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Archetypes and Agile

Customer Behaviour
Customer Behaviour

Photo by Shelter on Unsplash

An Agile organisations relationship with customers

"Customer service shouldn't just be a department. It should be the entire company", said Tiny Hsieh, founder of Zappos.

Customers can be fickle, wrong, and not share your vision, but most organisations will cease to exist without their "buy-in."

One of the four values of Agile is collaborating with your customers instead of negotiating on a contract. It's about taking them along with you on the journey of developing your product. It's not just at the end when it's usually too late to change your direction.

So how do you collaborate with customers in the journey?

In an article by HBR, "Have we taken Agile too far?", Colin Bryar and Bill Carr, both former employees for Amazon, believe that practising agile alone (e.g. two-week sprints) can jeopardise the team's ability to think bigger. Instead, they propose combining it with other methods to make it a better solution. I couldn't agree more. Agile and its most famous manifestation, Scrum, will not give you an answer on how to involve your customer in product vision. Instead, it would be best to combine it with methods like Design Thinking and Lean Startup principles to build what the customer wants truly.

As we said at the beginning of the article, customers can be fickle and wrong, so a lot of patience and time is required to understand who your customers are and what they want.

Introducing Customer Archetypes

Video Source: Youtube

To quote Patch Adams from this movie, "If you treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you'll win, no matter what the outcome."

Larger organisations segment customers by how much they are worth,

like total revenue, savings, net worth - to know who can spend the most.

The challenge is, Net Worth doesn't define customer behaviour. It doesn't say what they like, habits, aspirations.

Customer archetypes allow you to define these behaviours. Carl Jung coined it as "...inborn tendencies which shape the human behaviour". Archetypes can include both positive and negative behaviour. His original archetypes included The Persona, The Shadow, The Anima and The Self.

4 Major Archetypes as defined by Carl Jung
4 Major Archetypes as defined by Carl Jung

Image Source: The 4 Major Jungian Archetypes,

Personas are used very widely in the marketing industry when defining customer journeys. Still, there is a difference with the more extensive definition of Archetypes in which Personas merely describes how one presents themselves to the world, the "mask" or facade. Refer to this article to understand the differences better.

Here is a simple list of money archetypes that's relevant to financial spending.

Using Customer Archetypes

As an Agile team that's intent on collaborating with customers, you start with defining the customer archetypes you target, which could be early adopters if you are at the prototype or MVP stage. Before starting sprints, please create the archetypes or create version one of your archetypes in a sprint of its own. The user stories you develop can now utilise the Archetypes.

Evolve Your Archetypes

Remember that with everything Agile, be responsive to changes as they come, and this applies to your Archetype definitions. Archetypes represent people behaviour, and people change their minds!. So be empathetic to these changes, speak to them often, immerse, observe their behaviour as much as possible. Make this an activity in your sprint and not just code testing.


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