My vote is the Job Story and I feel this article does a great job explaining it. A Job Story summarizes key insights way better than an audio recording or written notes.
Let’s write an example job story from my experience in FinTech: planning for retirement.
When I start a new job, I want guidance in selecting my 401k contribution rate, so that I can feel confident about my decision, finish my HR paperwork and get to work!
Let’s look at each clause in further detail.
The When Clause
This is perhaps the most critical part – it provides important information about the context in which the person is trying to do a job. Some key questions to ask when writing this:
- What’s prompted the person to think about doing this job? (In the CREATE framework I wrote about previously, this is the cue). In this example the cue was probably filling out some HR paperwork.
- Where is the person when the cue occurs? As you might imagine things like whether this person is at home, at work, or on the road would be important. Do they have a computer nearby? Or just a phone?
In the example above, if I had just talked to a new hire about their journey to make this decision, I might refine my when clause:
When I’m sitting in my first day HR orientation and am asked to fill out paperwork about how much I want to contribute to my 401k…
The I Want Clause
This is where you explain the job to be done. In this case, it’s deciding how much to save for retirement. Note that I intentionally didn’t specify a solution – no mention that we should show something like “you’d have $50,000 per year if you saved 5% and $70,000 per year if you saved 7%” or “to max out your employer match you should contribute 6%”. I’m not saying you can’t suggest solutions when reviewing the story with your squad, but I’m a big believer that product managers should be presenting problems, not solutions.
In this example, as the squad starts brainstorming possible solutions, they may come up with either a tool to explore the implications of different contribution rates or an engine that just spits out a recommendation with an explanation. Both solutions might work for the person.
The So That Clause
This is where you explain why it’s important to the person to complete this job.
In this example, it’s important to note that for this person, they want to make a good decision but the real goal is to get through the paperwork and start the role she was hired to do. There might have been other reasons the person wanted to do that job:
…So that I can retire as soon as possible (he doesn’t like working!)
…So that I can minimize my annual tax bill (trying to lower her take home income)
Think about how different the squad might interpret the story based on the way it’s written.
Don’t forget the emotional and social aspects
Every job story has 3 components:
I’ve only written about the functional here to start: what is the person trying to do? It’s important to consider the other two aspects though.
Emotional. How does the person feel before, during, and after they’re doing this job in their life? In this example, we know that doubt is a prominent feeling when retirement planning; no one is really sure when planning for something that might feel so far away.
Social. Will others know that the person has done this job? Will they discuss it openly? What will others think about the person based on how they did this job? In this example, we know it’s not common to discuss your 401k contribution rate with others. Maybe part of the solution is to make it easy to share your contribution decision anonymously within the company or to publish anonymous data from HR so new hires know what others have done in the past.