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Adding Jobs-to-be-Done to a Persona-Based Product Development Process

Chris Spiek

In this episode we dive into the sometimes controversial topic of how Jobs-to-be-Done and Personas complement or contradict each other with Claire Menke, the Senior Manager of UX Research at Udemy.

Claire has deep experience with both frameworks, and after conducting a JTBD project and identifying the Jobs that users were hiring one of Udemy’s products to do, she worked hard to reconcile the newly uncovered Jobs-to-be-Done with the Personas that had been created and refined at Udemy over the years.

Enjoy the episode!

UPDATE:  Soon after the launch of this podcast episode, Claire wrote an in-depth article on Medium about how she combines Jobs-to-be-Done, Personas, and Customer Journey Maps to create a mix of insights that fuel different functions of Udemy. It’s definitely worth the read.

Udemy and Re-Wired Analyzing Findings After Conducting Interviews

If you like what you hear, check out more episodes of JTBD Radio: You can subscribe on iTunes or grab the RSS feed.

JTBD + Personas Slides

Claire talks through these slides here.

Show Notes

About Udemy

Udemy was founded in 2010 with the aim of improving lives through learning. Udemy is a global marketplace for learning and teaching online where more than 15 million students learn from an extensive library of 45,000 courses taught by expert instructors in 80 different languages. Whether learning for professional development or personal enrichment, students can master new skills through self-paced, on-demand courses, while instructors have a way to share their knowledge with the world. For companies, Udemy for Business offers subscription access to a collection of business-relevant courses as well as a simple platform to host and distribute their own content in one central place. Udemy is privately owned and headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Ireland and Turkey.


Welcome to the latest edition of Jobs-to-be-Done radio where we discuss how to apply the Jobs-to-be-Done framework to understand why consumers switch from one product to another and ultimately, how to get more customers to switch to your product. And here are your hosts.

Chris: All right. Welcome to the latest edition of Jobs-to-be-Done radio. I’m Chris Spiek. As always, I’m joined by my partner Bob Moesta.

Bob: Hey, Chris.

Chris: How are you doing?

Bob: And we’re missing Ervin so I just want to make sure we’re clear. We love to have Ervin here and we’ve decided we’ve got to start recording some more podcasts and…

Chris: We just pulled the trigger.

Bob: Well, and we’re never together too much and so we made the call but we miss you, Ervin. Just want you to know.

Chris: Absolutely. And we’re also joined by Claire Menke. She’s the senior manager of UX Research at Udemy. Hey, Claire.

Claire: Hey, how’s it going, guys?

Bob: Good.

Chris: Going great. So the topic we want to dive into here is personas and jobs and sort of how they play together.

Bob: I love it.

Chris: And so, to provide a little bit of context, Claire, I’ll let you get into the little bit of project details, whatever you want to share but we made…

Claire: Sounds good.

Chris: We were able to come together and collaborate on a project for Udemy and at least my version of the story is the product guys reached out. They said, “Hey, we have an interest in jobs. We’ve got a topic we wanna explore.” We started to define the project and then as you were looped in, you kind of did a great job of coming in and saying, “All right. Here’s the world as I see it, right. We’re going to find jobs but we also have personas.”

And it’s a guiding principle of the business and I’ll… You can correct my language but the understanding is… And this is what I feel a lot is like… Look, I’ve been working to form the personas, to make sure they’re right, to get all the teams using this language and now as much as I want to take the next step, I can’t undo all that work because it’s possible that we erode some of that stuff and take a step back, right.

Claire: Right. Right.

Bob: And it’s about trying to make progress in one dimension without having to take two steps backwards in another.

Chris: Exactly.

Claire: Right.

Chris: So can we start by just asking you what’s a persona and how do you use personas?

Claire: Yeah. So my definition of a persona has actually evolved through the process of trying to understand how Jobs-to-be-Done and personas and also customer journeys, for that matter, have worked together. Now I see personas as… It has some demographics, it has some attitudinal information, behavioral information, sort of. I consider it to be the top layer, sort of like the icing on the cake where you have great coverage. You’re covering a lot of people. You’re understanding a lot about generalized behaviors, what is their attitude towards the learning, for example. Is this something that they’re scared about? Is this something that they’re super excited about and see as a powerful way for them to move forward in their lives as a general characteristic?

But when we tried to… We actually ended up… So Udemy is a marketplace and it has students who come and consume and buy courses that are created by experts. So in theory, every student can find the right teacher and when we were developing the student personas, we actually ended up doing it twice and had real, serious issues with uptake the first time, partially because it was done by consultants and people didn’t really buy that this was real, kind of scared of someone coming in from the outside and telling them things.

And then when I came on, we did it again and we still had issues with uptake and it came down to the fact that it was almost too high-level. It was almost too general and one of the people in my office said, “Hey, you know what? I am this persona but this persona really likes learning. They see it as a path forward over obstacles, very growth mindset but if I get a traffic ticket and have to go to traffic school, I don’t like learning in that situation. So what does that do?”

Bob: Yeah.

Claire: And so there was this disconnect between your average attitudinal self and the situation and how that shifts your attitude. And so, what I thought was really interesting in combining the two of these is we still have personas and it is this, “Okay. My general perspective on learning or my general perspective on teaching and why I do it is X, Y, Z.” It includes a little bit of demographic information but what Jobs-to-be-Done helps us do is understand within your…especially emotional… Within your emotional spectrum, how would you react in a situation? If that makes sense.

Chris: Yeah, yeah.

Chris: Yeah. I think the traffic school… So the traffic school is a great example, right? So it’s like I can have a passion for learning. It can be my hobby. All that sort of thing. Traffic school is the one and then the other one that I always think about is on-the-job training. My boss told me to do something or I know that in order to make it to the next level, I have to learn this skill so I can provide the competency. I might not… I love the outcome. I’m driving towards the outcome. I might not love going through this learning but I’ve got to check the box.

Claire: Right.

Bob: Right.

Chris: And now, all of a sudden, I’m cutting across personas, right?

Bob: Right.

Bob: And for me, I think about personas as actually helping to shape the job, right? It’s…

Claire: Correct.

Bob: It’s part of the…Personas don’t cause me to buy but personas affect the value code by which how I decide. And so, for me what I found over time is that I might find a job and the job might be… It’s the same for whether I’m a millennial or a baby boomer, right. And so, I have a persona for each one but the reality is as a designer, I’m actually designing the same product for both but they’re using different language to describe the value code.

And so, it might be that I need… Under this job, I might have to use a persona or different personas to help me make sure that I’m marketing it the right way or that I call a button the right thing or whatever. And so, to me, it’s… Personas are almost…

Chris: It’s like a flavor.

Bob: Yeah. I call it a pathway, right. So if I start with personas and do jobs, it’s harder than if I start with jobs and then add personas.

Claire: Well, actually, I don’t know. So we had an interesting experiment of sorts in that we had… The two sets of personas we had created were for our student population.

Bob: Yep, yep.

Claire: In our marketplace business. We also have a business to business component where…it’s called Udemy for business. You… We take a curated…higher quality, curated subset of all of our courses and can sell them on a per seat basis to employers to give to their employees. And so, when we actually did Jobs-to-be-Done, you guys came in to help with the business to business side of things and we hadn’t really done personas for the employees, the student side of the business to business component of the company. And so, we did this interesting experiment where we decided not to look at…consider personas. We ended up typing people to see who they were after the fact.

Bob: Yeah.

Claire: But before the hand, we did not do that. And so, when we came out with the jobs on that for those employees, it was interesting to see that the emotional component, so how you reacted in a situation where you needed learning to overcome whatever obstacle it was in your professional career, that emotional component had a huge range. It went everywhere from, “I am so excited to potentially take advantage of this learning opportunity so I can get into this new project or I can get that promotion or…” Very forward looking.

And then you also had a subset of people who were panicked or they were frustrated and just that there was a huge swing in that emotional variety and it was very interesting when we went back and did it on the student side for the marketplace. We decided, “You know what? We want to be able to really focus our jobs on who we’ve already decided our target personas are.” And that emotional variety wasn’t there because one of the defining characteristics of that group is this growth mindset, positive attitudes towards learning, all of that. And so there wasn’t that huge swing because they know, “I can learn it. I can do it and that will get me over this hump.” Rather than, “Oh, my God. I don’t know if I can do this.” Which was a very different experience.

Chris: Yeah. So tell me about… Share what you want about the findings on the marketplace side. So one of the things that I would say is… I’d cringe… Maybe not, but part of me would cringe if you were to say, “Yeah, let’s do the project but let’s scope it only to people with these characteristics like persona based characteristics.” I think if we were setting up a project, I might push back like, “I don’t know if that’s going to be too narrow.” Were you still able to… Did the job still pop out at you even though you feel like you had set the bar on that emotional dimension?

Claire: Oh, a hundred percent. It was just… The jobs are based on slightly different things. So if you think about someone who is volunteering to come and spend their own money on a learning outcome or getting a class, for example. They… The people who do that more often naturally have this desire to learn and if you really want to tailor your business towards people who have already bought into lifelong learning, which makes sense because we’re not going to go into somebody’s house and force them to come and take our classes if they have no initial instinct to do so.

Chris: Yeah.

Claire: That makes sense whereas, in the B2B employee side, you do have bosses coming in and saying, “Okay, you have to do this.” And assigning courses and all of these kinds of things which has very different motivational characteristics and a different makeup of who will actually be using the site for that purpose.

Chris: Got it. So I think just great example that you can do it in both directions, right?

Bob: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Chris: Start it and then we can, I’d say, confine it or not consolidate or you can say, “No, I’m just going into this. I want to…” I want to say, “I just want to go into this persona and explore that space and get value out of it.”

Bob: That’s right.

Claire: Well, and the way that we’ve ended up reconciling personas in Jobs-to-be-Done, the persona really helps with the overall brand message, the brand understanding and that high-level, “Who we are going after?” But the jobs helps us find them in those moments of need or want and really bring them in and tailor the product to them.

Bob: That’s right. Well, and that’s… And the thing is you have to realize that a lot of the market research that… If you look at the evolution of market research, it comes from being able to buy media and media is literally… The language of media is, “I have a magazine or I have a… I’m running an ad to this demographic under these things.” And so, what… A lot of times, they just try to recycle that research and use it for product side and it just didn’t work. And so, you do need both and the thing is that you still can’t buy media or you still can’t figure out how to target without understanding the persona piece but at the same time, it doesn’t cause people to choose. It doesn’t have the mechanism of the value code of what…why they’re deciding.

Chris: Yeah.

Chris: And so, that’s where you end up having to correlate everything as opposed to getting the causality.

Bob: Yep. What…

Claire: And just real quick, an interesting side note to all of this. So do you start with personas and then go to Jobs-to-be-Done or do you build Jobs-to-be-Done and then extrapolate personas? When we did the persona work, we… After that, we did customer journeys on the student side.

Chris: Yeah.

Bob: Yeah.

Claire: And for… Specifically, for that target persona and realized we backed into the jobs in a weird way.

Chris: Yeah, yeah.

Claire: Where we ended up with essentially three distinctly different customer journeys depending on a variety of characteristics. Are you coming in for a personal reason, for professional, skill development, did you stumble into this or were you actively seeking for it and some of those components that drive your overall experience?

When we did the Jobs-to-be-Done, it ended up having a lot of similarities in terms of the dimensions that were used and the ultimate matrix development and everything. Very interesting.

Bob: Yeah. So I’ve been listening to this book called “The End of Average,” and this guy articulates that things are becoming more and more about the pathways by which people do things. And so, this aspect of the… He talks about the jaggedness of, let’s say, things like… The jaggedness of a job. One job has these five things in it. The other job has a different five things in it and so it’s hard to compare one job to another.

Chris: Yep.

Chris: The other is the context actually is almost like the beginning of a fractal. A different starting point ends you maybe in a different place but the reality is the mechanism is the same.

Chris: Yep.

Claire: Yeah.

Bob: And so, to me, that’s where we start to use personas to say, “Is this one job or is it really two jobs? Is it really a different mechanism of value and it relates to the product?” And then the third thing he talks about is the fact there’s a pathway. He’s like… So the journey mapping is really cool because you start to realize there’s no… I’m becoming a big, I will say, anti-advocate of ideal customer experience.

Chris: Yeah.

Bob: Because there’s never one. There’s going to be a couple and so part of it is being able to manage and frame the tradeoffs I have to make to basically satisfy, let’s say, three different paths as opposed to, “Okay, we’re gonna do this one really well and do we have one product? Do we have three products?” And knowing how to make all those product decisions is, to me… The core of jobs is really about being able to frame and manage the tradeoffs so I can create value.

Chris: Yep.

Claire: Well, and the nice thing about the jobs is it explains the situation you’re in when you decide to hire this product.

Chris: Yep.

Claire: And what that… And what your expectations are. And those two components entirely drive what you expect your experience with a product to be like.

Chris: Exactly.

Claire: And so, we… If you think about the architecture of this framework is we start with the overall brand. Okay. There’s limits to who we’re going to speak to. So you have that limit. And then within the people you do want to speak to, we’ve done the jobs so we understand. Okay, what are the various situations that they’re in, why would they come and hire Udemy? And then based on those situations that seem like they’re most important for our users, then we go through it and we do the journey map to understand. Okay, well, how are we doing for these people? Is this what they want? Where are their points of pain? And use a combination of the Jobs-to-be-Done and the journey to hone in on that.

Bob: Yeah. So one of the things we’ve been doing lately with one of our clients is around… As we see that, we actually realize that there’s very different measures of satisfaction and they’re not easy to get. And so all of a sudden, you start to realize that we’ve been taught to say…ask people how satisfied they are. We use net promoter score as a way to look at all the different jobs and see what…how happy they are with it but the subtleties of knowing how well we’re actually executing on the job is one person wants to make sure they get the right depth and another person wants to make sure they have this skill in a certain amount of time and there’s two really different measures of satisfaction.

So it gets to this thing that Clay and I’ve been working on which is we’re actually… We end up… This big data notion of having all this data around… Because it’s easy to gather and easy to look at. We still don’t know how to actually truly measure satisfaction if we don’t have the jobs in place.

Claire: Exactly.

Chris: And so, we found a lot of that in learning, right? So it’s like, if I’m doing it to please my boss, I need to get the checkbox. If I’m doing it because I used to use one system and you just pulled that system away and put in a new system and you forced me to learn that, I don’t need the checkbox. I just need competency. When I can do my job again, I have learned enough. And like to your point, the satisfaction metrics might look bad in the data. It’s like they’ve taken 10% of the course but they’re delighted. I’m back to doing my work, right? But understanding the starting point and the ending point is…

Bob: So I’ve done a lot of work in education and one of the things we found is that in the community college level, they’re always talking about graduation and what you… When you do jobs and you interview people at the community college level, it’s like, “No. I want to get a new job and I need to learn this programming or I need to…”

Chris: No, they’d say he failed. He didn’t finish.

Bob: He didn’t finish. Not only did he… He barely finished the class. The fact is he never graduated. So they have all these numbers but when you really look at it, it’s like, “No. I’ve got a 20% bump in my job and you know what? Now I can do it.” And the reality is like, “I don’t care about the grade. I don’t care.” And so, it’s actually adding a ton of value to the community but by education standards, because they didn’t do the whole course and they didn’t get an A which they didn’t really care about, it looks bad but in their mind, it’s like, “Hey, I just got the job with a 20% bump.” So this is where it’s so different.

Claire: Well, and then the question becomes how do you explain that to the instructors?

Bob: That’s right.

Claire: Because you have to change their frame of… Their mental model of what success looks like with the uptake of their classes which is very challenging to communicate because we get it internally but it’s very hard to pass that on to the other side.

Bob: Yeah. So I’m teaching at Northwestern next fall and one of the things that I… And I’ve been helping with a couple of different professors and so, to be honest, one of the things we’re doing is we’re going to actually figure out… We know the jobs and we’re going to basically have people almost do a job survey coming in of what progress do they want to make and then build them into their own groups and then literally be able to grade them differently and see how it goes.

Claire: Oh, fascinating.

Bob: Because at some point, I can deliver the content but I might give different homework to one group versus another group because they want to do something… So one of the groups is a set of entrepreneurs and they actually want to apply it to their current business. And another person is like, “I’m taking this because I want to be a marketing person at a Fortune 500 or I’m going back to that and I need to know how to think about it through the brand lens.” And so, what we’re doing is we’re dividing the projects to actually fit the jobs.

Claire: Brilliant. Well done.

Bob: So again, we’re… But we can see the struggle and we’re trying to design some new solutions. The hard part with education is it’s just so slow. I love your motto words. You could probably prototype in a week or two, get some feedback and help change. That’s awesome.

Claire: Yeah, for sure.

Chris: How… So I’m going back to the business project that we did. How long into it did you think you felt comfortable that you were going to be able to pull off the reconciliation? I feel like we had the call at the beginning where I was like, “No, we can do this. We can figure it out.” Were you comfortable then or was it halfway through analysis you’re still going, “Oh, my God. This could derail my whole…” How… Tell me about that timeline.

Claire: Oh, goodness. I mean, I found that… I actually don’t know if I fully believe the reconciliation. It took me probably three or four months after we did the business…the employee side, Jobs-to-be-Done to really develop this framework and articulate my own thoughts around it. I had a very hard time figuring it out but it’s funny because now when I share this with… I just did a workshop with a bunch of researchers in the Bay Area and when I share this internally with my company when I show it to them, everyone’s like, “Oh, yeah. That makes sense.”

Chris: Yeah, it’s obvious. Obvious in hindsight.

Claire: Yeah. I tore my brain apart and my manager and I just passed it back and forth for three months trying to figure out how to put it together but I think rationally it just makes a lot of sense now.

Bob: Yeah, but this one of the things you said really early on is you built your first set of personas with an outside consultant and it’s one of those things where we… We’ve learned through the years. We won’t go do jobs for people. You either do it with us or we’re not going to do it because you need that time to wrestle and it’s your reconciliation that’s most important. Not the fact that we came up with the perfect jobs.

Claire: Right.

Chris: And the other side of that is I don’t know that you could’ve… Well, you can correct me on this. I don’t know if you could’ve done the wrestling if we would’ve just handled you the report. I think your ability to wrestle is like, “I heard every story. So when I go to try to reconcile, I know all the data so I can play at that level.”

Bob: That’s right. And to be honest, it’s one of the reasons why I don’t Jobs works is when you outsource it to other people to do the thinking because part of the power of it is having the whole cross-functional team in it and having to wrestle with the language and having to hear it. This isn’t words on a PowerPoint deck that you have to wrestle with because we picked the wrong words. This is what people said.

Claire: Yeah. Well, it’s funny because we actually just… What was it? Yesterday or two days ago finished up doing Jobs-to-be-Done with instructors. So we led another round of that.

Chris: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Claire: And so this is our third…my third time now going through the process and I created this whole training deck and gave it…did this presentation, had them try it in working groups where I gave them a dumbed-down version of several interviews and have them come put dimensions and go through and create the matrices and all of that process and we did a two hour workshop with the people who are going to do the Jobs-to-be-Done that next week. And I think they walked away, they’re like, “Oh, why are we dedicating all this time? It seems really easy.” All of this kind of stuff.

Chris: Oh, God.

Claire: And about four days in, they’re like, “Holy crap. This is a lot of work and I totally get why we do it.” But at the same time, you still have… We brought some engineers in.

Bob: Yeah.

Claire: We did two… We ran two parallel processes and we each had an engineer and the engineer in my group still wants to try and program it so you actually built… You guys would laugh. He built a computer program to essentially run regressions on all of the dimensions that we came up with.

Chris: Awesome. That’s awesome.

Claire: To see… But we ended up with a different set of Jobs-to-be-Done than what his program suggested that we do.

Bob: Yeah, because he’s actually doing it correlatively and because you’re trying to do causality, there’s no regression. Regression actually doesn’t work. That’s kind of the point is we want to know what are those ending energy states that we’re trying to…actually, that are motivating people to go through it and they’re trying to look between… Again, the reason why somebody… The context that they’re in is like, “Boy, I’m really disorganized.” They think, “Well, the opposite is well, they want to be organized.” It’s like, “No, I want to get a better job.”

Claire: Yep, yep.

Bob: And so, there’s just not that orthogonality that’s there and so it’s… That’s one thing that… Again, I’m an engineer and a math guy and to be honest, I wrestled with it for a long time and I just realized it just doesn’t work that way.

Claire: Well, and part of it is you have to go through that struggle and I kept telling people, “Yes, I know. I’m sure there is a simpler way to do this if you want to program it or you want to run it through some Excel spreadsheet but part of it is also you just have to struggle through it and after that, that’s when you buy in. That’s when you believe it is when you put all of your blood, sweat, and tears into it.”

Bob: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.

Chris: And he’ll get… You can get the math right. So we have cluster… Like Bob said, if you cluster on situation and outcome, you’ll get the same jobs, right. So I think if he goes through one project, two project, three… He’ll see the patterns and he’ll be able to program that into the math. You can’t optimize it. Like you said, you can’t optimize it before you’ve had the struggle.

Bob: So I have a beta version of the way we’re doing math and one of the things that came out was the notion of systems thinking is so core to this because what happens is people will use a thesaurus to affinitize the forces and what happens is they’ll say, “Yeah. These two words are similar so that’s the same thing.” And when you unpack it, it’s like, “No, this one’s coming from internal, “I’m motivated,” versus, “I’m being motivated externally”.” Though it’s both like, “I’m being pushed to do this.”

And so, when you realize, “No, you’ve got to separate those. Those are different things. Not the same.” And so, it’s a really different process by which to build that matrix out to do the next nearest neighbor. So it’s like… To be honest, the math is the easiest part. It’s trying to explain how do you actually affinitize and build the variable set that’s the most meaningful to help you get to the jobs.

Claire: Exactly.

Chris: So I think one thing we might do is share. If you’re comfortable with it, you… I think you sent me your workshop deck and you have a couple of slides where you’ve actually done… It’s like the framework around reconciliation. We might throw that up on the page where we publish this pod. Do you want to…

Claire: For sure.

Chris: Talk about that at all or do you think it’s self-explanatory if people see it? They can walk themselves through it?

Bob: Nothing is self-explanatory.

Claire: I mean, there is a little bit of supporting text about what this means in our student context. I can generalize that a little bit but overall, going back, the personas sitting at the top of the page and it’s this broad swath understanding of who a person is in their average daily life, daily sets of belief. If you move a layer down, you get to this Jobs-to-be-Done where you have situation points on this line of your life and you react differently in the different situations.

So if I provide an example, it’s like, “Hey, in one situation you just lost your job.” And so, there’s certain emotional components that go along with that. You look for different types of tools to regain your occupation. You may have a new project at this exciting new job. You really want to jump on board and so you go and you learn a new set of skills to help you get into that project and that leaps and frogs you into something else and then you have this other situation where you need to learn and so it moves on down the line.

And then from each situation… For example, if you have just lost your job, you’re already feeling a little bit panicked. You’re feeling a little frustrated. You’re pretty concerned and you really need something to take you from zero to hero which is a very different expectation set of what the learning experience should be like then, “Hey, I need to learn this for this exciting new project but I need to learn it by tomorrow. I need to get in, get out, get this knowledge, get it quick.” And you have very different expectations of what that customer journey will be like and so you have the journey lines for each job that you’re trying to accomplish that have different frequencies and variation.

Bob: Yeah. So I have something very similar where we did it for higher ed, basically, undergrad and master’s and what you find is one reason why people go back to school is basically to rebuild their confidence because they’ve been out for a while. And another one is just, “Help me get to that next career level.” And they’re both in the same class. And you’re like, “All right. Well, how do I reconcile with that?”

Claire: Right, right.

Bob: And so, part of it is helping them be clear on their expectations coming in as opposed to me saying, here’s the syllabus and this is what we’re going to cover and you guys get what the heck you want out of it but this is how I’m going to grade. I just find it to be such a supply side orientation of education because they keep talking about teaching but this is not a business of teaching. This is a business of learning and if you flip that lens that way, it’s like, “All right. Now we’ve got to be able to understand.” And content, to be honest, is becoming a commodity. Actually, how do I actually help you frame up what you’re really trying to do better and understand the level that you need to get…go do it that you can actually make more progress faster. That’s really, really…

Claire: Well it was interesting because we talked with instructors in this last set and there’s this one guy who was getting mixed reviews on his course where some people were saying, “Oh, it’s too basic.” And other people were saying, “Wow, it’s way too advanced. Can you slow it down?” And so, he intuited these jobs and ended up structuring his course so that he has the long set of lectures and then at the end of each section has the summary.

Chris: Right.

Claire: So for the people where, “I just need to make sure I haven’t missed something…” We have a lot of students who have a little bit of fear of missing out. They are worried that they don’t know some gem and so they want to speed through the content pretty quickly. So for those guys, he has that summary lecture. For the people who really want to spend the time and dig into it, he has the step by step piece as well. So he backed into his own jobs.

Bob: That’s right. Well, and as… This is the classic engineer problem which is it’s too simple, it’s too complex. Okay. We need to get to the 50-50 point where we have as many people complain about too simple versus too complex as opposed to, “No, let’s redesign the thing so we can actually…” And it’s a bifurcation of these two things and they’re like, “No, no. This is why this guy at the end of average gets in.” Because we’ve only been able to use the average to resolve that as opposed to take a step back and say, “Well, maybe there’s something else going on here that we don’t understand.”

Chris: Everyone complains.

Bob: Or I’m just minimizing the number of people who complain on both sides of it.

Chris: Yeah.

Bob: And you actually don’t make the market bigger and so it’s really… This notion of the average is how we’ve been taught to develop and program and do all these things. It’s really, really… It’s really interesting. So to me, the other thing is about some of this is where… You do a lot of this in the conference room and we end up coming up with words, let’s say, from marketing perspective of, “Boy, we have a platform that does this and this and this.” And we did some work earlier this week and nobody called what they had a platform and nobody actually…

Claire: Well, a lot of people don’t know what it is.

Bob: Well, that’s right. Well, they like it because everybody says, “Oh, platform. That’s good.” But the reality is the word platform actually started creating anxiety because they had bought other platforms and they weren’t sure if that platform was going to replace the platform they had and so they wouldn’t even get involved and the fact is they kept calling it, let’s say, a tool…

Chris: Yeah, I can’t do another platform. I just introduced a platform. I can’t introduce another.

Bob: Right. And so, then all of a sudden, it’s like… And they kept calling it a tool and they going like, “Yeah, but we don’t want to be a tool.” I’m like, “But you are a tool.” And they love it. And they’re like, “Yeah, but that’s just degrading to us.” That’s what you’ve got to resolve with but lots of times, we’re sitting there, adding things to the product because it makes us feel better and it just doesn’t help them at all.

Chris: Yeah, we can charge more for a platform.

Bob: But it’s like… Well, and the funny part is people would say, “Yeah. Boy, I’d pay more for it because it helps me with this and this and this.” And it’s still called a tool. It was like, “They’re insulting us.” I’m like, “No they’re not.”

Chris: So funny. So I love the… I’m glad we got to the point where you said, “I was comfortable with it four months after the project was over.” I just think it’s so important to at least set expectations. So the one thing Bob and I always talk about is progress. There’s like… The funniest thing to me is the wars that go on. You go on Twitter and it’s the persona guys versus the job guys and everyone’s commenting. It’s like, “What the hell is going on, right?” And we always come back and say, “Learn everything, use everything and when you need the tool, you pull it out and you apply it, right.” So there’s… We’re not going to find one right or wrong answer. You’ve got to find ways to pull the right tools in and make the progress on the product when you need to, right?

So I just love the idea of… If you’re the researcher, the engineer, the marketer, whatever and you’ve got personas, you’re going to introduce jobs, you’ve got to get comfortable with the fact that we’re going to learn things, it’s gonna be at a different level than our persona and we might take some time and it’s going to be stomach turning but we’ve got to figure out how to reconcile it. It’s not going to jump off of the page at us. We’re going to have to wrestle. And I just want to…

Claire: Yeah.

Chris: I think the clearer we are about that, the more people can get comfortable with it.

Bob: But I would say that this is the… Go ahead.

Claire: And for some groups, the persona might be more effective than the Jobs-to-be-Done and that’s entirely possible and for our marketing team, the personas was great at that brand level but for consumer marketing, so for that…your daily emails and all of that, they need the jobs. And so, at different levels of the company, different orientations on how you work with the customer, you’ll use different tools probably.

Chris: Yep.

Chris: Right.

Bob: That’s right. And so, to me, it’s really about, in the end, building a good, solid theory of how the market works and how people are choosing and using and creating progress with their things. And so, to me, again, is a persona a different job or is persona just a different way to look at the same job? And those are the words you need to wrestle with to say is… Because if it’s a fundamentally different mechanism, the different context, and different outcome, the thing is…to me, it’s a different job but if it’s… It’s fundamentally the same, similar context, similar outcome but just different words. Then it’s a persona problem. And so, that’s where people say, “Well, these are two jobs. Well, what if we put persona on it?” You can fundamentally see if it’s different, what I call the social, emotional and functional energy. Then it’s probably different. But if it’s not, then it’s just words.

Bob: Yep.

Claire: Well, we actually did that experiment. So we created a…marketplace students created a typing tool where…to classify people into the different jobs and ran that with the people that we created the jobs around, so our target persona. And then we actually, as an experiment, sent it to some people that we know are outside of that persona so they fit into a different one.

Chris: Oh, that’s awesome.

Claire: And it was really interesting to see that Venn diagram of there are certain jobs that every single persona does or three out of the five or whatever it is and then there are some that…some personas where that… None of those jobs that we’ve created applied.

Chris: Yep.

Claire: So because they have different forces that are acting on them, they have different emotional and social expectations and all of that. And so, it was just very interesting to see that play out in an actualized format.

Bob: I’m studying that right now and we’re… I’m starting the, why do people switch religions?

Chris: Yeah.

Claire: Oh, interesting.

Bob: And so, it’s almost like what job does church do and so it’s trying to understand… And what you realize is the competitive set is so different because it’s actually not switching churches. It’s… CrossFit is a really big competitor to the church because if you look at the social, emotional pieces. And so you star to realize all of a sudden, it’s like the personas… I’ll say a boomer isn’t thinking of CrossFit as competing with it but a millennial is literally like, “Okay. It’s a sense of community. I feel stronger. It’s a bunch of people that are really… It’s like it does four of the five key elements that they did for church before.” And it’s like, “Yeah, I’m out.”

And so, it’s like… And there’s a… Yeah, I go to church once a week and they’re going to CrossFit four times a week or five times a week and then start to realize, “Boy, I feel a lot better both socially…emotionally and spiritually.” Because they’re working out and you’re like, “Yeah, but they’re not going to church.

Chris: Yeah.

Bob: It’s very interesting.

Chris: And so, what you might find is that younger generations will be able to pull different solutions into that job.

Bob: That’s correct. That’s correct.

Chris: But the personas that fit in the…people like the boomers and stuff. They might not be that willing to switch. So now we have a job that might not cut across personas.

Bob: That’s correct. So we can start to put those together.

Bob: And the interesting part is the churches keep trying to say… Well, they’re trying to do… They’re almost like the milkshake. They’re trying to do every job well and they do no job well so they do all of them halfway until what happens is you go through life and you need more sense of community or you need more… It’s just really interesting to see how people will come back to church but the church is trying to improve everything and they’re actually improving nothing.

Claire: Interesting. Interesting.

Bob: They’re making it chewy, chunkier, chocolaty-er, or thicker like the… All the dimensions that they think are important and it’s just not making a difference. And so, they think it’s moral decay and it’s not.

Bob: You’re going to have to go to church after this podcast.

Chris: I do… I will but that’s all right.

Bob: Okay.

Bob: It is Good Friday. Or it’s a fish Friday so…

Chris: It’s a fish Friday.

Claire: Yeah.

Chris: All right.

Bob: Anything else? Thank you so much for coming. This is one of those conversations that Chris and I will have on the phone or with clients all the time and to be able to at least put this out there and help people have access to this is phenomenal for us. So I really appreciate it.

Claire: Yeah, and it was fun. I mean, this whole process, it’s been a long process because we worked with you guys first in what? August or something like that?

Chris: Yeah.

Claire: And here we are, come March, and we’ve done three sets of persona… Or three sets of Jobs-to-be-Done for different parts of our marketplace and trying to integrate with the personas and doing both and the customer journey and it’s just been fun to play with it and see where it ends out.

Chris: You guys are jamming. So one of the coolest things… So most people who listen to podcast know, anytime we do project work, we’re always doing it under the guise of, “We’re going to answer the questions that you have and then we’re going to teach your team the method,” right? So the “promise” is the next time you need to apply this, you don’t have to call us. So we decided to do a podcast. I worked the schedule out with Bob and then I shot you the email, “Hey, let’s do it this Friday. We’re both free.” And the reply I got was, “I can’t do it. I’m running two parallel Jobs-to-be-Done projects at the same time.” And I’m like… When I got that email, I was like, “Oh, my gosh. This is the best email I’ve gotten all year.”

Bob: Real deal. Real deal.

Chris: This is fantastic.

Bob: But that’s a sense of progress for us when we know that you can do it. At the same time, that you’re willing to take the time like this and hop on and share and we really appreciate it.

Chris: Yeah, so we’ll put the…

Claire: Well, thank you, guys. You’ve really changed the way that we think about our users and the experiences that they go through in their lives. So thank you.

Chris: That’s fantastic. So we’ll post this, a couple of slides. We’ll put up however you want to share… Twitter or however you want people to follow you and get in touch with you because I know you’re doing the meetups and the workshops and stuff out there in San Francisco too. So people should definitely be following whenever you do that stuff.

Claire: Awesome. Sounds great.

Bob: How can people find you?

Claire: Right now, on LinkedIn is probably the best bet and I’m working on pulling together the other components of this so…

Bob: Got it.

Chris: Awesome. So we’ll post that link so people can reach out. Thank you so much.

Claire: Great.

Bob: Thanks, Claire. Have a good weekend.

Claire: I appreciate you guys too.

Chris: Thanks.

Bob: All right, bye, bye.

Claire: Bye.


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