Church Technical Leaders: Jobs-to-be-done

Recently, I had the privilege of contributing an article for the Church Technical Leaders website where I discussed jobs-to-be-done theory and how it relates to the local church tech team, “What Motivates Your Team?“.

“As technical directors, we usually think in terms of what the church hires the tech team to do: run audio for live events, make videos, maintain infrastructure, etc. Have you ever considered what your volunteers are hiring your team to do for them? In other words, what is motivating them to serve in technical arts? If technical arts was a product, why would they be your customers?” From my article.


When it comes to products, there are 2 great loves of my life: Diet Mountain Dew, and Apple. It is a known fact in our church that if you want to bribe the tech team, you bring us Diet Mt Dew (Which is curious, since I am the one who drinks it on the team…).

I know everyone doesn’t like Apple and now that they are experiencing success, Apple fans tend to rub it in. I’ve never been one to back down from the PC flame wars, but that’s not my desire here.

I know that everyone will not like Apple products, because I know that Apple designs them that way.

If you can disassociate yourself from personal preference, you have to admit that Apple’s comeback has been remarkable. Here’s why:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” Steve Jobs

This focus has led Apple to do the hardest thing of all–to cannibalize their own products in the pursuit of better products. It is the message of Clay Christensen’s book “The Innovator’s Dilemma“. The hardest business decision of all seems to be disruptive innovation that disrupts your own cash cow. Apple has succeeded on this front while others have timidly waited to see which way the wind was blowing.

This leads us back to jobs-to-be-done theory.

“People don’t want a 1/4 inch drill, they want a 1/4 inch hole.” Theodore Levitt.

“Success in innovation doesn’t come from understanding the customer. It comes from a deep understanding of the job the customer is trying to get done.” Tony Ulwick

Check out my article and tell me what you think.

Want more info?

Here’s an article from the Harvard Business School that is a great introduction to this idea, Clay Christensen’s Milkshake Marketing.

I personally like Horace Dediu’s Asymco. His application of jobs-to-be-done theory is 2nd to none in the mobile industry.

Tony Ulwick’s Strategyn is a good place to peruse to get a feel for jobs-to-be-done theory.


2 thoughts on “Church Technical Leaders: Jobs-to-be-done

  1. It seems in churches, we are looking for that next great thing to attract the masses, so to speak, and we forget what God has called us to do. We copy what other growing churches are doing, and we become a huge Golden Coral to the church body. It’s a buffet of half cooked, mediocre at best, food from a can, pile it as high as you dare, mess. Where the staff is tired and cranky, and if they add one more thing……it’s over. This is why focus is needed in our churches….so people can see and know God for who he really is, and not be distracted by all the noise. Thanks Mike!

    1. I sometimes wonder how much of our ministry designs are for us verses for God or the people.
      I am coming to realize a place of vision is a place of focus.
      There is always more we can do, could do, might do, others are doing… Saying YES to something, means NO to something else.
      Saying YES to everything, means NO to effectiveness.

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