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Do public policies articulate society's jobs to be done?

Julia Freeland Fisher, 7/20/2016

The theory of jobs to be done helps us to fundamentally reexamine demand through the lens of particular circumstances and forces in people's lives. This can give us critical information about what might prompt someone to "hire" or purchase a particular product or service or alternatively "fire" something that isn't satisfying his JTBD.


We can construe public policy as society's (somewhat) collective agreement on what we want the government and the governed to "get done"—for example, we’ve observed that in the education sector, since we began holding schools accountable to student test scores, which in turn lead schools to, for better or worse, integrate their purchasing decisions, organizations structures, and teaching methods around activities that may boost test scores.


But treating public policy as society’s JTBD remains fuzzy because many times policies are watered down compromises between various interest groups’ divergent priorities and other times policies may purport higher order goals but in the end coalesce around bare minimum compliance. Here are some outstanding questions we may need to tackle when applying JTDB to public sector frameworks:

- Is compliance itself the job to be done of public policy—rather than specific ends articulated in laws and regulations?

- Is there such a thing as a collective job to be done across a range of individuals with diverse goals?

- In situations in which regulated public and private entities are doing their best to work around public policies, what does that tell us about society’s JTBD?