Nucleus Blog

Job-To-Be-Done or Personas?

Posted by Sean Shepherd on Feb 15, 2018 10:16:00 AM

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In our quest to continually improve Customer Experience methods and practices, James and I regularly expose ourselves to various strategic and tactical concepts put forth.

One of the most interesting concepts is that of the Job-To-Be-Done framework, put forth by Clayton M. Christensen, et. al, in their seminal Harvard Business Review article (and later expanded into an excellent book).  

The concept can be summarized as an investigation into how companies succeed. First lesson, discover what job consumers are hiring your product to do (what's The Job-To-Be-Done).

While one of the most intriguing and exciting concepts around innovation in recent years, the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework has (rightly) been seen as another way of understanding the consumers' perspective on a product or service. 

When seen in this light, this framework can be seen as a useful tool to be added to the Customer Experience toolbox. Any method that allows organizations to understand how they are viewed from the perspective of their customer is a step forward towards true customer-centricity.

However, whenever we consider adding another tool to our toolbox, the question must become one of integration with existing CX tools, the most obvious being personas. Does this job-to-be-done framework conflict with current persona best practices? Does it add or detract from our current Customer Experience toolbox?

Luckily, the great people over at Nielson-Norman group have written a fantastic article about this exact question.

Although they look at the challenge from a strictly User Experience perspective, the findings apply equally to Customer Experience.

Here's the summary:

"Personas have long been a useful tool in a user-centered design process; however, in recent years, jobs-to-be done, a new technique for focusing on customer needs, has been gaining steady prominence.

Definition: Jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) is a framework based on the idea that whenever users “hire” (i.e., use) a product, they do it for a specific “job” (i.e., to achieve a particular outcome). The set of “jobs” for the product amounts to a comprehensive list of user needs.

With the popularity of the JTBD paradigm, there are calls in some corners to abandon personas, suggesting that JTBD has emerged as a more useful technique. This point of view is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of personas as primarily demographic representations of users, missing the key behavioral considerations that are essential to good personas and that provide much needed guidance for interaction design and product strategy."

Check out the rest of this fantastic article here.

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Topics: The experience economy, customer experience, user experience, user-centred design