How the Jobs to be Done Theory Empowers Project Managers

Consultant,Maria Richter, shares how the ‘Jobs to be Done’ theory can unlock the power of a project manager

In the realm of projects, the role of a Project Manager (PM) extends far beyond just delivering documents and meeting deadlines. A skilled PM understands that delving into the diverse motivations, needs, and challenges of the individuals behind a project is *essential* to a project’s smooth path to success.

It’s essential to recognise that behind every project lies a whole bunch of people with their own unique motivations, frustrations, goals, and priorities. It’s like a cocktail of different personalities and agendas. And with these being different, ultimately, all of them might see the success of a project differently. So, how do you know all the different motivations? And how do we figure out what success looks like for each stakeholder? Enter the ‘Jobs to be Done’ theory.

The Jobs to be Done Theory: A Human-Centric Approach

The Jobs to be Done theory is a customer-centric framework that helps understand the motivations driving decision-making. This theory encourages you to look beyond the typical surface-level details and demographics and dig deeper into the ‘why’ behind people’s actions. Instead of focusing solely on what customers want, we explore the functional, emotional, and social jobs that products or services are being hired to do. It’s all about shifting our mindset from “People buy products because they’re amazing” to “People hire products/services to get a job done.”

Laptop and stethoscope

For example, let’s consider a healthcare organisation implementing a new electronic medical records system. The traditional approach would focus mainly on defining the system’s features from the perspective of the project managers or whoever came up with the idea. However, many other types of stakeholders will interact with this new system such as doctors, nurses, and administrative staff. By applying the Jobs to be Done theory, we can uncover the jobs that these stakeholders need to be done—their motivations for supporting the new system implementation. For doctors, it might be about streamlining patient record management to save time. Nurses may prioritise seamless coordination between departments, while staff may crave easily accessible information. By understanding these underlying jobs, the project manager can tailor the solution to meet the specific needs of each stakeholder, resulting in greater satisfaction and successful implementation of the new system.

Project success and satisfaction are not just about ticking off boxes. They’re also about delivering value and building meaningful connections. By empathising with the diverse needs of different stakeholders and using the Jobs to be Done approach, project managers can go beyond a transactional relationship. They can forge long-term partnerships based on trust, collaboration, and mutual respect. And that’s where the magic happens!


Incorporating the Jobs to be Done theory into a project management toolbox unlocks their power to deliver real value. By understanding the underlying motivations of your stakeholders, project managers can tailor their strategies, foster collaboration, and drive successful project outcomes.

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