Design Research Strategy

Resource list



Reflecting on work

  • An incredibly rich source of career and management advice vitamins. The podcast series on how to write your resume is both instructive and hilarious.
  • Bob Sutton is the Professor of Management Science at the Stanford Engineering School and author of The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss Bad Boss. His writing on organisations is evidence-based so the next time some fad comes your way, check-in with Bob’s articles and blog.


Design practice

Remote research

Technology opinion

Human directory

  • Directories crafted and curated by actual humans used to be a big thing, and was a reason why Yahoo! was a thing before Google. While they may seem anachronistic compared to search they can uncover gold hard to find in your personalised search echo chamber.

For design and product inspiration and curiosities


Do you have a trusty go-to resource? Let me know what it is in the comments.

Events Research

JTBD for Health meetup wrap-up

Last Monday saw a great crowd of almost 30 people turn up at Brain Mates to hear Justin Sinclair of Neo speak about a health case study at the JTBD Sydney Meetup.

Justin shared how Jobs-to-be-Done research was applied to investigate customer needs and behaviour when choosing a health provider. His client had hit a crossroads in the development of an online solution for provider selection and decided that some customer centred research was needed.

Some background to JTBD (and the case-study)

For those unfamiliar with JTBD, it is a research technique that focuses on the moment where a customer has made an explicit choice to switch between one product or service to another. The underlying rationale being that all priorities have been crystallised in this moment of decision making which can then, in turn, inform product development.

For the health study, Justin and his team from Neo recruited customers with a range of health needs who had chosen new providers.

The next fundamental concept of Jobs-to-be-done is the job itself which in JTBD terms is framed as a problem that a product or service is “hired” to solve.

The problems discovered in the health study went far broader than diagnosis and treatment. The problems involved the whole experience; some examples:

  • The convenience of location and appointment times.
  • Cost, and lack of information around insurance.
  • History of information with an existing provider as a reason to stay and a barrier to change.
  • Comfort, trust, and alignment of values between patients and health practitioners.
  • Questions of expertise and credentials of health practitioners.

The research successfully illuminated the customer journey. It also posed a challenge because the importance of all decision making factors and touchpoints varied significantly depending on whether the patient had chronic needs, a new serious illness, a minor illness or was simply organising a check-up.

Applying Jobs-to-be-Done to customer research

Jobs-to-be-Done was incorporated into the research discussion guide and all researchers received training in how to do a “switch interview”. Group analysis was done using the “Four Forces” model: looking at the forces driving a customer to a new solution and the forces that are holding them back.

In this case study two of the four forces in the framework – habit and anxiety – proved fundamental to understanding customer choices and the difficulty faced by the client’s solution in trying to solve far-ranging problems with their online product.

So consider for a moment that this approach seeks to find and define customer “jobs” in order to make products that do those jobs. What was most fascinating to me was hearing about the challenge the researches faced in framing the job at the right level. Defining the “job” too broadly, at too high a level, gets us insights that aren’t actionable. Defining a job too narrowly or specifically categorises customers by type and fails to capture the needs of the behaviour around the task or job of choosing a provider.

Interestingly for the client, the research brought into question the fundamental value that this product was bringing to the market. The product is now on hold maybe because of this insight: “Discovering a job isn’t enough if you can’t viably solve it.”

Questions from the audience

I think what I am beginning to like most about Jobs-to-be-Done is the diversity it attracts. We had user experience designers, product managers, and developers in the audience. Their questions reflected how diverse these disciplines can be in their approaches. We had side conversations about personas and the value of qualitative research versus quantitative research.

It’s difficult to baseline the understanding of such a wide audience with a new toolset. Jobs-to-be-Done is quite jargonistic to someone new to it. This made it all the more valuable to hear about it applied in practice and also shows how much awareness and education around this and related techniques are needed. Which is the reason for the meetup so come along to the next one Monday July 13.

The Jobs to be Done Sydney meet up was founded by Christian Lafrance and is organised by Christian and yours truly. 

Follow Justin Sinclair on Twitter at or check out where he works at Neo. Thanks to Justin and Neo for sharing your work at our meetup. 

New to Jobs-to-be-Done. Check out

Thanks as ever to our hosts and event sponsors Brain Mates

Events Product design Research

Jobs to be Done Sydney #4 Interview workshop

Monday 23rd March was the fourth installment of the Sydney chapter of the Jobs to be Done meetup, and the first co-organised by me. That’s right, after so many years of attending meetups I’ve finally stepped up to help Christian keep the ball rolling. As always we were wonderfully and generously hosted by Brainmates who also host and sponsor Product Mavens and Product Talks Sydney. I’ll be getting along to one of those very soon.

Always putting on a great spread for us.
Always putting on a great spread for us.

JTBD 4 was all about customer interview practice and the particular techniques used in Jobs-to-Done. Like other qualitative interviews it probes for detail but a Jobs-to-Done interview also

  • hones in on a participant’s ‘hotspots’
  • asks seemingly irrelevant questions, such as what the weather was like that day to not only trigger memories but to stop the interviewee post-rationalising their decisions
  • tries to identify each trigger where the participant progressed through a stage of the buying, switching, or leaving journey.

Which customers to recruit to understand the buying journey.
Which customers to recruit to understand the buying journey.

JTBD interview facilitation tips
JTBD interview facilitation tips

We watched a video of Bob Moesta and Chris Spiek demonstrating the interview technique at Business of Software 2013. Then everyone got a chance to practice interviewing themselves in groups. It was pretty funny and sweet hearing everyone’s stories. Especially from the business owners. Inspiring stuff.

The most fun was the discussion afterwards. We all shared our own experiences and opinions on interviewing etiquette: the art of asking open questions, whether it is OK to ask closed questions, and the trick of leaving a question hanging for the participant to fill the void.

Getting ready for group work and interview practice.
Getting ready for group work and interview practice.

Thanks to all who attended. A guest speaker will be announced very soon for the next event so sign up on Meetup if you haven’t already. See you there!



Events Product design Research

Deconstructing a Jobs to be Done switch interview

It’s fascinating to hear about the decision making process of customers when they decide to buy a product. Its more interesting still to think about the reasons they may be leaving another product for this to happen. What may on the surface seem perfectly rationale ends up being haphazard, circumstantial, and even highly emotional.

Design research methods promise to uncover this human story and outlay the behaviour, needs and goals of customers and/or users of a application. What the Jobs to be Done approach adds is a focus on identifying valuable features from the customer’s perspective and contextualizing them against the forces of habit and anxiety that may cause the inertia behind not switching to a new product. Its a compelling model, so I am so pleased that my former colleague and friend Christian LaFrance has started a Sydney Jobs to be Done meetup.

It was a great turn out for the third event this week hosted by Brain Mates in the centre of the city. Thank you Adrienne for the perfect setting, and for the wine and food.

Christian played back the switch interview from the second meetup. He led the interviewee to unwind his experience from the point of purchase right to the beginning explaining small and broad details of his story. As we listened we modeled notes along a journey framework and analysed them in groups with the Jobs to be Done four forces model.

I won’t go into the detail of the approach here. There are much better resources online for that (check out JTBD online, JTBD radio, and Christian’s Flipboard collection as a start). I did pick up some tips though from meetups 2 &3

  • Its important to get granular. Asking after irrelevant details is a useful technique to help people remember and visualise events.
  • Christian recommended asking questions to validate assumptions as soon as you catch yourself inferring too much.
  • The value of the model is explicitly seeing and thinking about the weight of the combined factors within the Push and Pull quadrants that have to overcome the customer’s habit and anxiety for a switch i.e. a purchase to happen.

The audio of the switch interview which is about a customer buying a mobile phone is available on the meetup page of the group. Join up while you’re there. This is a practical group so I promise you will learn something while you’re there. Thanks again Christian for a wonderful event.

Events Product design Research

Jobs to be Done Sydney meet-up review

I’ve been meaning for the longest time to do some reading on Jobs to be Done framework, but like so many little jobs it had remain undone. Until Monday night that is when Christian Lafrance organised the first Sydney meet up at the Trinity Bar in Surry Hills. Christian has presented on Jobs to be Done at UX New Zealand  with ABC colleagues Justin Sinclair and Raymond van der Zalm and he has been incorporating the method into UX and product strategy and design projects at the ABC.

What I learnt.

  • It’s deceptively simple
  • A product management methodology, popular to those who practice Lean startup, now getting traction in UX circles
  • Helps business stakeholders relate to designers
  • Applied in user research phases of projects
  • Uncovers functional objectives of products
  • Helps designs and product teams define and prioritise product features
  • Helps to encourage stakeholders away from their focus on features (solution mode) towards goals and context.

We touched on …

  • recruiting switchers to gain rich insights at the moment where a choice is made
  • analysis frameworks (4 forces of progress)
  • prioritisation frameworks
  • defining the customer value proposition

And next time we will talk about

  • provocative interview techniques for switchers

Biggest takeaway that will make me look into Jobs to be Done some more … once this method is used to frame the use of products stakeholders look for the goal, the job and it becomes a powerful driver of customer centricity. They stop talking about features, and start talking about what customers want to achieve.

It was great to meet everyone who turned up on the night. And a big thank you to Christian for organising this and making the commitment to do it again. I worked with Christian for two years and I miss the interrogation to HCD methodology that he brings to the table. So although we still get to see each other on the odd occasion it was great to geek out together and see him in action. Thank you Christian!

If you want to learn more about what we covered check out