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At the outset of a conference call with securities analysts in July to discuss Twitter’s second-quarter earnings, CEO Jack Dorsey laid out his company’s strategy: “We intend to build an ecosystem of connected features and services focused on serving three core jobs: news, which is what’s happening; discussion, conversation; and helping people get paid,” he said.

The language Dorsey used — “three core jobs” — refers to a concept called “jobs to be done,” which is an approach to defining a business from the perspective of what really matters to its customers.

For Dorsey, jobs to be done provided a tool for strategic clarity at a critical time. “It cleared something up that was missing for me, which was how do we plan and build around a customer-centric framework that would focus the organization on why our customers are coming to us in the first place,” he said. Upon his 2015 return to Twitter, Dorsey launched an effort to identify the jobs that people hired Twitter for and, importantly, which jobs it would focus on going forward.

The framework was also applied at Dorsey’s other company, Square, to help the financial services and mobile payments company redefine its business and figure out where it might look for growth. The initial approach it took was similar to that of Twitter: The company gleaned insights into the jobs to be done from customer interviews and observations of how business owners used Square solutions. For instance, Square’s managers realized that its technology, which enabled small businesses to process credit cards, was a means to solving the broader job of “grow my business.”