• Nnenna

Persona/JTBD/User Story: Rise & Fall?

At the last BA Community of Practice with my client, one of the BAs mentioned that Personas (a UX tool that allows you to understand the users of the system, to ensure a customer-centric software development) was now obsolete and not fit-for-purpose... (or something like that) and had now been replaced by Jobs-To-Be-Done.

Regardless of the fact that I greatly disagreed, I was extremely curious as to why the speaker would think that, so I probed further for an explanation. Apparently, the UX Community of Practice seemed to think that "the rival" UX tool ( Jobs-To-Be-Done), did a much better job of focusing on the software build, more than it did on the person, as developers did not see the need to worry about the "who" would use the system, but "what" should be done with the system.

After my research of Jobs-To-Be-Done, I have to admit that it does get the job done as fast as possible, due to the fact it focuses on the capabilities or functionalities that the software is meant to deliver (also known as user goals). But why am I not comfortable with this finding? Let's start with defining what "Persona" is in the software/product development world:

A Persona is a collection of generalised attributes, bias and characteristics of potential users, which may impact the way that these users would use a software/product. In simple terms, a Persona is what makes an interface designer/developer know that they are creating a software for a child and not an adult, or for an accountant and not a doctor, or for international students (who may not be fluent in the complex common language) and not the local students.

To further illustrate the explanation, say you were making a calculator app for a Till Manager or Cashier, you would not expect them to need more than the basic calculation tools. A basic calculator, however, is insufficient for an Engineer, who might want to calculate the gravitational force in Jupiter if Mars was orbiting along... (you see where I’m going with this??).

The "Job-To-Be-Done" in the above scenario is to perform calculations, however, the interface and core processes of this calculator, would rely on the "Persona"-lity/subjective/background of the user.

I once read a story about a building company that suffered poor sales of their lovely apartments. After an in-depth investigation, they found out it was because they never understood the demography of their potential buyers. The target customers were single people yet, the building company installed a dining set... Situations like this can occur when you focus on JTBD only.


These two tools are as important as each other and neither of them should be sidelined; they aren't rivals, they are very useful, especially when used together. The mixture of these two powerful tools birthed the hybrid tool, called USER STORY.

An example of a User Story:

1) As an Engineer, I want to do crazy calculations, to satisfy my crazy mathematical desires.

2) As a Cashier, I want to add up purchases at the till, so that I don't have to refund missing items to my employer.


JTBD isn't a rival of Persona, they complement each other for a great User/Customer Experience; they are all still useful, of which user stories are the most useful tools because, it is basically:

As a <persona>, I want to perform <job-to-be-done>, so that <the reason why persona wants job-to-be-done>

#persona #jobstobedone #productManager #UX #CX #userFocus #softwareDevelopment #businessAnalyst


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