Much Ado About People

Note: This is Part 24 of the Ruminations for Aspiring Designers series.

JTBD (Jobs To Be Done), user story and persona are considered essential parts of many design areas, such as UX design or product design.

Here’s a short post to set the record straight based my own experiences and reflections over the years.

JTBD is Skinnerian

JTBD cares about the actions, and how those actions are associated with the intended outcome or goal (even though it doesn’t necessarily care about what that outcome actually is).

As Skinnerian as it gets, JTBD uses behaviour as the measure that points us to the direction of an outcome. It doesn’t really care about what that outcome implies, it only cares about whether the behaviours correctly reflect the direction towards that outcome.

User Story is Freudian

User story cares about template and how that template is associated with an intention. In other words, it cares about the form of that intention.

Not unlike Freud’s psychoanalysis framework, user story provides a rigid linguistic frame in order to translate user intentions into definable features.

Persona is Jungian

Just like Jungian archetypes do, persona cares about universal patterns of characteristics.

In other words, persona is just substantialized archetype. Creating personas is about identifying archetypes.

Thinking Tools for Design

The takeaway of this very short post is simply that, JTBD, user story and persona are merely thinking tools. They are not design dogmas. Any of them works when put to proper use, and your grasp of what’s “proper” only improves over time, by experience and through learning.

So what’s the worst thing you could possibly do to a tool?

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Don’t do that.


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