Jobs To Be Done Framework Is More Useful Than Personas

The jobs-to-be-done framework posits that people “hire” a product to do a specific job for them, and understanding what that is helps companies design successful products.

I wanted to apply this framework to my camera app, Futurecam, and see what jobs people might hire Futurecam to do:

  1. Capture beautiful photos different from run of the mill photos, as a hobby, for personal satisfaction, and to win appreciation from friends.
  2. Capture personal memories like vacation photos. Here the reason is emotional rather than artistic, as with the previous point. Your family photo means nothing to strangers.
  3. As a professional photographer, to increase revenue, either by taking better photos they couldn’t otherwise take (easily), or indirectly by developing a reputation.

The jobs-to-be-done framework is slightly different from the traditional approach of segmenting your users into different personas.

First, imagine a persona Peter is in his mid 30s in a city in a developed country, works in a bank, is single, introverted and does photography as a hobby over the weekends. Most of this information doesn’t seem particularly relevant to a camera app.

By contrast, in the jobs-to-be-done approach, the focus isn’t on who users are; it’s on what they’re hiring the product to do. This seems more relevant to the product. As an example, imagine a divorced Indian in her 50s with two children, who works as an interior designer, is extroverted, and lives in a town, who’s a photography enthusiast. From the personas, she seems completely different from Peter, but from the point of view of using a camera app, she probably has more in common with Peter than not. In that sense, personas can be misleading. What we care about is what people are hiring a camera app to do, not age, gender, marital status, race, profession, town vs city, developed vs developing country, introvert vs extrovert…

Second, the jobs-to-be-done approach also avoids the problem of making up personas, as I did above. Yes, personas should ideally derive from thorough research, but in practice, we don’t often have the time for that. The jobs-to-be-done framework seems more lightweight.

Third, the same user might also hire the product to do different jobs on different occasions, like a professional photographer going on a vacation.

This is why the jobs-to-be-done framework seems more useful than personas.

On-demand Leader. Earlier: IIT | Google | Solopreneur | Founder | CTO | Advisor