JTBD is iteration

The 2012 job-to-be-done at Calm was meditation. But when engineers looked at the usage data they noticed something interesting, there was a lot of Calm usage at night. “When they started productizing around sleep,” explained Vinny Pujji, “that’s when it opened up from being just a meditation focus thing to what they are today, which is mental fitness.”

We’ve looked at a few JTBD ideas: does the bundle of good explain the transaction, as it does with free breakfast? Is there zombie revenue? Even Jazzercise was job-ercised.

With hindsight ‘jobs’ sound easy, but they are iterated solutions. David Packles of Peloton shared (October 2020) two instances where Peloton had to iterate on their first JTBD solution.

First, Packles and his team looked at the largest Peloton Facebook groups. Rather than build for the power users, a no-no, they looked for wider use cases, and thought peole wanted to see when their friends were working out.

“People hated it,” said Packles. While the camaraderie between instructors and peers was important to users, the now-ness was not. So they tinkered. There was almost always at least two people in the same workout at the same time. ‘Friends working out now’ became ‘here now’. This worked, forty percent of daily active users now use this feature.

A second instance was the location field. Rather than where, people used it for what. Packles himself is a ‘Peloton dad’. So Peloton added tags which per Packles, “exploded in popularity” and “became a means of expressing yourself rather than connecting with club.” Half of DAUs have some kind of tag. Rather than people near me, the Peloton users wanted people like me.

That’s interesting moments help us understand how other people see the world. Instagram once had a tool that fought spam by looking for accounts that posted a lot and deleted a lot. During one glance through the data, Mike System noticed that in Indonesia a person was doing that – but in an interesting way. Way back in 2013 she was uploading photos of her store’s products and when they sold she would remove the post. Interesting right?

JTBD feels like a spirit of philosophy as much as it feels like a technique or tactic. It’s a way of regularly reflecting on the world. JTBD isn’t an equation, it’s a long process with a lot of inquiry. But it’s worth the work.


Two cool Peloton stats: they film thirty hours of content a day and their 18 month churn is 14%.

Peloton ease

Economist Tyler Cowen cautions against the optimism around self-driving cars because when costs fall, consumption rises. If the costs of driving fall, there could be a lot more cars on the (now congested) road. Cost isn’t just about price, but also understandability, beliefs, and time.

Another way to think-like-an-economist is to consider ease. Every time a how will I… question gets answered things get easier and Peloton answers a lot of questions.

Wooden barrel

A wooden barrel like this can only hold water up to the shortest piece. Each answered how will I… extends the length of that board. Extend the set and action is taken. Here’s Christian Hunt on his background to buying a Peloton:

“My partner brought it up…we had been bombarded by advertisements…I knew a few people who had them and it just got to the point where we thought, ‘Let’s just give this a go, we can return it if we don’t like it.’ And the people I spoke to about it were so positively engaged. Worse case scenario: this thing goes back.” – @ChristianHunt, Human Risk

Just in that comment Hunt hints at the many boards that lead to a Peloton purchase. There’s price (finance it!), usage (we’ve got classes), social (follow your friends), competition (leaderboards), and even logistics!

When surveyed why they bought a Peloton, 78% of people said convenience. Consciously that means convenient to use but really it is everything.


Wood Barrel, via Wikipedia.