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Jobs To Be Done: Improving Upon Personas and User Stories August 4, 2016

Jobs To Be Done: Improving Upon Personas and User Stories

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To design valuable features, user interfaces and user experiences, development teams must empathize with and recognize the causality, anxieties and motivations of their customers.

Traditional marketing has focused on the consideration of customers needs based on attributes such as age, marital status, income or other categories. By employing this old approach, companies are focused on selling rather than on what customers want and need. By focusing on understanding the “job” for which customers look to “hire” a product or service, firms are able to create and market products that mirror what their customers seek to do.


  • Jobs-to-be-Done helps undercover attitudes and behavior by framing purchasing decisions as a choice to “hire” a product or service to do a job…Most products are hired for up to 3-4 jobs, which essentially line up with different customer segments. The reason JTBD is so helpful for marketers is that you are not creating these segments based on demographics or personas, but instead based on motivations, context and triggers.
  • Designing an innovative customer value proposition begins with genuinely understanding the customer’s “job-to-be-done.” The premise is simple: customers don’t really buy products. They “hire” them to do a job. Instead of asking what products customers want to buy…ask what problems they want to address. (Innosight)
  • A job to be done (JTBD) is a revolutionary concept that guides you toward innovation and helps you move beyond the norm of only improving current solutions. A JTBD is not a product, service, or a specific solution; it’s the higher purpose for which customers buy products, services, and solutions. (The Innovator’s Toolkit)


“Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and coauthors articulated the JTBD concept in a Sloan Management Review article (Spring 2007) as follows: “Most companies segment their markets by customer demographics or product characteristics and differentiate their offerings by adding features and functions. But the consumer has a different view of the marketplace. He simply has a job to be done and is seeking to ‘hire’ the best product or service to do it.” Therefore, if you understand the jobs your customers want done, you gain new market insights and create viable growth strategies. Sometimes a good solution for a JTBD, or a family of JTBDs, does not exist; when this is the case, you have a great opportunity to innovate. (The Innovator’s Toolkit)


  • Causality and context should drive your customer thinking.
  • Frame every design problem in a Job, focusing on the triggering event or situation, the motivation and goal, and the intended outcome:
  • When ___ , I want to ___ , so I can _____ .
  • Think it terms of the why, rather than the who and what to uncover true customer context and motivations.


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