Team Activities to Better Understand Your Customers and Team

We all need to understand our customers and the teams we are members of. Customers need to be understood as they keep the business alive. The team(s) we are members of need to be understood so that we can work with them to improve quality.

The best tool that I have found to understand customers is the Theory of Jobs to be Done. This is an innovation framework that asks what job did someone hire that product or service for?  In “Competing against luck”[1] job is defined as “The progress that a person is trying to make in a particular circumstance”. Looking at the progress that a person is trying to make and the circumstances can help you understand your customers. It can help you and your team think of all the jobs that are done with the product or service that you are building. Jobs to be Done can be contrasted with personas. A persona describes the person, but does not give you the circumstance. I find the Theory of Jobs to be Done a useful way to focus on customers and have created a presentation to share this.

In some ways teams are rather like families and I have recently found that the ideas of Victoria Satir are often referred to in books and articles I read. Katrina Clockie[2] and Lena Wiberg[3] both refer to the Satir Interaction Model. This model describes the process that happens internally when we communicate. Looking at the model can help us understand how our team communicates. Satir says that there are four steps:

  • Intake
  • Meaning
  • Significance
  • Response

Gerry Weinberg has pointed out that the first three steps all occur internally. It is useful to consider this in terms of remote communication. If we are with someone when we communicate with them we will see non visual signs of how they are reacting when the first three steps occur, but if we are remote we will only see their response. This is particularly important to consider when we are communicating bad news such as “I think I have just found a bug!” We won’t see the rest of the team’s non verbal communication while they are going through the first three steps, we will only see their response. It could be useful to discuss this model with your team to improve team communication and understanding.

I hope that these two ideas for activities are useful in helping you understand your customers and your team.


[1] Competing Against Luck: The Story Of Innovation And Customer Choice by Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon and David S. Duncan

[2][3] Would Heu-Risk it? by Lena Wiberg

Published by Mike Harris

Mike has been working in testing for 20 years and is currently the lone tester for Geckoboard. He has been a Test Lead and has also worked as a part of waterfall, lean and agile teams. He is also Programme Secretary of BCS SIGiST. Mike has a B.Sc.(HONS) from Middlesex University and is an Associate of the University of Hertfordshire. He has set up and led a Testing Community of Practice and been part of a successful agile transition. He is Co-Programme Chair of the British Computer Society’s Specialist Interest Group in Software Testing. He also contributed to the e-book Testing Stories and has had articles published by the Ministry of Testing. Follow Mike on Twitter: @TestAndAnalysis

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