Using Observation and the Jobs to be Done technique

One of the reasons I became interested in the Jobs to be Done technique is that my son has limited empathy and because his pre-school teacher mentioned that he had would play with certain other children depending on the circumstances.

He would play with x in sandpit but would do drawing with y.

He is now in the main primary school and blanked his old pre-school teacher – he still remembers her as he occasionally does his impression of her, but she does not have a function in his life.

As he is so functionally minded, creative play does not come easily to him so when he named all the stuffed toys after children in his class, it gave us an unique opportunity to understand his view of his classmates.

One thing that is quite apparent is that he takes a role separate from them – he plays the role of the teacher or adult, telling them off, putting them to be etc.

Yet each of the children has their own role to play and by watching the way he sees the stuffed animal we are starting to understand more about how he sees each of them.

It is very different from the way he describes them as he does not really understand what the adjectives that he uses automatically for each of the actual children mean – he will describe one as smart but not be able to explain whether this is because he is clever or because of what he wears.

As it is not reality it does have its limitations but also from his point of view it is better than reality as toys will never refuse to play with him because they are too tired or for other reasons he does not understand.

In other words it takes away a key variable that he does not really understand – why they would not want to play on one occasion but might on another.

Watching him play helps us understand him but also raises questions about why he does something however we feel through watching him we understand a little more about him, us as parents and his classmates.

Most importantly we are not asking him questions that he cannot understand which upsets him but we are starting to understand the patterns in his behaviour. In a certain situation it is clear which of his stuffed toys he will choose and the reasons for that choice are becoming clearer.

It does suggest that the Jobs to be Done system is highly conducive for gaining deeper understanding and as a source for a series of hypotheses that can be tested or quantified using other research methods.

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