How Twitter Utilized the “Jobs to Be Performed” Strategy to Technique

On the outset of a conference call with securities analysts in July to debate Twitter’s second-quarter earnings, CEO Jack Dorsey laid out his firm’s technique: “We intend to construct an ecosystem of linked options and companies centered on serving three core jobs: information, which is what’s occurring; dialogue, dialog; and serving to folks receives a commission,” he stated.

The language Dorsey used — “three core jobs” — refers to an idea referred to as “jobs to be accomplished,” which is an strategy to defining a enterprise from the angle of what actually issues to its prospects.

Such strategic focus is important for a corporation reminiscent of Twitter — which competes in opposition to a various set of gamers starting from Fb and TikTok to the Wall Avenue Journal and the New York Instances. And Twitter’s outcomes have been spectacular. Its every day lively consumer depend has grown above 200 million, up from 126 million at year-end 2018. It’s on tempo to cross $4 billion in annual income in 2021, up from a bit of greater than $3 billion in 2018. And as of September 20, Twitter shares had appreciated over the previous 5 years by 170%, which compares to 185% for Fb.

It wasn’t at all times this fashion for Twitter. Because it seems, jobs to be accomplished has been a key device in Twitter’s turnaround, which started in earnest after Jack Dorsey reassumed the CEO function in October 2015. On the time, the corporate was nonetheless evolving and its focus was unclear. Fb was rising customers at an astounding scale and tempo, and Snapchat was the shiny, new social community set to take it on. In 2015, Twitter posted a web lack of $521 million on income of $2.2 billion, and its shares have been buying and selling under its IPO worth of $26. As Dorsey described it later, on the Innosight CEO Summit in August 2019, “We obtained overly reactive to all the things our friends have been doing. We didn’t have a transparent sense of what our objective was, and that basically harm us rather a lot.” (Disclosure: Twitter has not been a consumer of our agency, Innosight, and he was an unpaid speaker on the 2019 CEO Summit.)

Dorsey and his crew have been grappling with one of the profound questions each chief should reply: What enterprise are we actually in?

How a corporation defines its enterprise impacts practically all the things it does: what prospects it serves, the way it serves them, whom it competes in opposition to, what exterior forces it regards as related, the way it interprets these forces, what methods it contemplates and pursues, and the way it innovates.

But too usually this query is answered in methods which might be overly constraining, myopic, and obscure what’s actually occurring on this planet round them. Even worse, the improper body of reference can lead to fully lacking rising threats and alternatives. This usually occurs when a corporation defines itself by the merchandise it sells (“we’re within the insurance coverage enterprise” or “we’re within the automobile enterprise”) or by another inward-looking attribute reminiscent of its enterprise mannequin (“we’re a web based market” or “we’re within the rental enterprise”) or a functionality (“we’re a software program improvement enterprise”).

What’s wanted is a approach to outline a enterprise from the angle of what’s on the coronary heart of any firm’s success: its capability to create worth for purchasers. The “jobs to be accomplished” strategy offers such an answer.

A job could be a downside to resolve (e.g., “restore my automobile,” “soothe my sore throat”) or a objective (e.g., “run a marathon,” “get into faculty”). When jobs come up, individuals are motivated to hunt merchandise, companies, or experiences to “rent” to carry out these jobs, similar to they could rent an individual to do a job reminiscent of fixing a leaky pipe or babysitting the children.

The thought may also be used to outline strategic route — and has explicit worth as a approach of framing a corporation’s identification.

How Twitter Utilized the Strategy

For Dorsey, jobs to be accomplished supplied a device for strategic readability at a crucial time. “It cleared one thing up that was lacking for me, which was how will we plan and construct round a customer-centric framework that might focus the group on why our prospects are coming to us within the first place,” he stated. Upon his 2015 return to Twitter, Dorsey launched an effort to determine the roles that folks employed Twitter for and, importantly, which jobs it could deal with going ahead. It concerned three steps.

1. Perceive the complete set of jobs for which Twitter was already being “employed.”

The corporate obtained this info by gathering insights from buyer interviews, observations of how folks engaged with Twitter, and knowledge gathered from web site utilization.

This generated a protracted record of fairly particular jobs, which might then be aggregated into higher-level jobs to think about for strategic prioritization. For instance, jobs reminiscent of “get real-time updates a few dwell sporting occasion,” “study extra a few longstanding curiosity or pastime,” or “be alerted to breaking information occasions” might all be grouped into the higher-level of job of “inform me.”

2. Prioritize the roles Twitter wished to deal with.

This was accomplished through workshops during which firm leaders evaluated the record of jobs by standards reminiscent of how broadly they have been shared by prospects, the anticipated worth of fixing them, and the place Twitter had a compelling and differentiated answer. The outcome was alignment round three precedence jobs for Twitter shoppers: “inform me,” “have a dialog,” and “inform others.” Comparable work was accomplished to determine the precedence jobs of different Twitter stakeholders reminiscent of advertisers and the developer neighborhood.

3. Talk the outcomes and use them to allocate assets.

Finally, precedence jobs have been communicated all through the corporate. In addition they supplied a strong mechanism for focusing how assets have been allotted. For instance, as soon as the strategic jobs have been recognized, all product teams and groups reviewed their present product roadmaps and assessed, for every undertaking, the way it linked to one of many precedence jobs. If it couldn’t be linked, the product was taken off the roadmap. The roles framework additionally helped transfer the group from describing its technique when it comes to options to creating longer-term plans geared toward fixing precedence jobs to be accomplished.

The framework was additionally utilized at Dorsey’s different firm, Square, to assist the monetary companies and cell funds firm redefine its enterprise and determine the place it’d search for development. The preliminary strategy it took was much like that of Twitter: The corporate gleaned insights into the roles to be accomplished from buyer interviews and observations of how enterprise homeowners used Sq. options. As an example, Sq.’s managers realized that its expertise, which enabled small companies to course of bank cards, was a way to fixing the broader job of “develop my enterprise.”

That realization opened up the crew’s eyes to different alternatives. For instance, development requires entry to capital, and lots of small companies have problem acquiring financial institution loans. Sq. responded by launching Sq. Capital (now referred to as Square Loans), which leverages its deep understanding of its prospects’ monetary well being (derived from their transaction historical past) to offer them with direct entry to capital.

The Worth of a Jobs Perspective

Defining a corporation from the angle of the client jobs it exists to resolve usually results in helpful new insights in regards to the aggressive surroundings, dangers, and alternatives, whereas increasing the chances for development and innovation. For instance this, contemplate the contrasting implications of a automobile firm defining its enterprise from a product perspective (“we’re within the automobile enterprise”) versus a jobs perspective (“we’re within the private mobility enterprise”).

Viewing a market via the “jobs to be accomplished” lens produces a much wider image of the aggressive panorama.

“We’re within the automobile enterprise” “We’re within the private mobility enterprise”
Main Lens
Merchandise Jobs to be accomplished
Competitors Automakers Automakers, ride-hailing (e.g., Uber, Lyft), rental automobiles, strolling, biking, videoconferencing, house supply companies
How we compete By making higher-performing automobiles with extra options By serving shoppers’ jobs to be accomplished in novel and sudden methods — via innovation within the core enterprise (e.g., electrification, new-purchase experiences) or in new enterprise strains (e.g., fleet companies, micromobility)
Market measurement Measured in whole car gross sales (automobiles, vehicles, SUVs) Measured in car gross sales plus different mobility-related markets (e.g., ride-hailing, e-bikes, in-vehicle leisure) ― any intersection of jobs to be accomplished and circumstances during which folks or issues have to be moved from A to B
Innovation levers Advancing expertise to create better-performing, extra richly featured automobiles Product innovation plus enterprise mannequin innovation reminiscent of new services and products, new consumer experiences, new monetary fashions
Developments to fret about Elevated preferences for SUVs, advances in electrical propulsion methods, rise of driver-assist options, autonomous automobile expertise, client deal with connectivity, new distribution channels All the product-related tendencies plus elevated demand for private mobility companies (e.g., scooters), elevated use of videoconferencing or telecommuting, advances in drone supply expertise, actions of nontraditional opponents (e.g., Google)
Supply: Innosight ©

See extra HBR charts in Knowledge & Visuals

Clearly, these two views result in very totally different conclusions about what’s occurring on this planet, what developments advantage consideration, and what the strategic choices are.

Past the readability it offers, we’ve noticed three major advantages of the jobs-to-be-done strategy:

Increasing choices for technique and innovation.

Jobs offers a customer-centric lens for technique improvement, clarifies who the true competitors is, and opens up a variety of recent avenues for development and innovation.

Investing in what issues most.

When everybody within the group understands and is oriented in direction of the roles it exists to resolve, staff in any respect ranges are empowered to make higher choices of their day-to-day duties.

Aligning and provoking the group.

Clarifying the precedence jobs your agency exists to resolve helps all staff perceive how the group creates worth on this planet and realizes its objective. It additionally performs an necessary alignment function by speaking strategic focus and making certain it is a shared language and methodology for innovation, product improvement, and creating buyer insights.

All organizations ought to mirror on the client jobs they’ve solved as much as the present second and decide how this focus would possibly want to alter sooner or later. By doing so, they’ll can chart a transparent path ahead.