Your next one-on-one interview

How you can move at the speed of light

Heavily inspired by the Customer Activity Cycle, this HBR article about doing ethnographic research rather based on outcomes and NOT on solutions and Helge Tenno’s Jobs To Be Done canvas, I created my own methodology to capture observations during one-on-one interviews. These observations should help give direction to the definition of digital products, services and experiences. I’ve tested it during conversational and observational interviews with six health insurance professionals and my impressions about the methodology during the data capturing and analysis were quite positive.

*This exercise works really well when you don’t have time to go deep into the replay of your recorded interviews, when your respondents are “rather stiff” (you ask them to come out of their shell and stick post-its) or when you feel your own learning curve about their specific situation (e.g. very technical job, you need to learn about their different activities) is still quite steep.*

It goes like this:

1/ Make sure you break down their journey into key stages. These could be different units of activities within a certain cycle. It is important to cover the whole picture, and think about how you can extend the different units both to the left and right. The more you stretch an experience, the more present you can be in a customer’s life, and the more value you can provide.

2/ Populate each stage with activities related to one specific stage within the cycle. What are the biggest activities, tasks, decisions, thoughts, etc. that are currently happening here?

3/ Then observe or ask questions that help you to define problems that are related to these activities. Try to find out people’s pains, frustrations, things that are currently not working, etc. How do people feel about these pains? Ask them to describe those moments. What was the context? Where were they? Who was involved? What were they doing before this painful moment? What did they do afterwards?

4/ Once you’ve reached the third level, it’s time to unravel outcomes. What is it that people would want a product or service to do for them in each stage? Why is this not happening at the moment? How is this linked to the aforementioned pains and frustrations? You might be able to unravel some initial outcomes during the interviews, but perhaps they require a lot more reflection when you’re on the train back home. These outcomes are slow burners and are often unexpected.

5/ Based on this populated canvas, you can now start noting down multiple assumptions formulated as jobs-to-be-done across the whole experience. Why are people hiring your product or service? What would be the role of the product or service in their lives? How does it fit into their lives?

These jobs should ideally spark a discussion with other team members. Which are the jobs that team members didn’t expect? Which are the ones that allow you to reframe the solution in an interesting way?

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Thomas