Jobs to Be Done

A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation

 Jobs to Be Done

Authors: Stephen Wunker, Jessica Wattman, David Farber
Pub Date: November 2016
Print Edition: $24.00
Print ISBN: 9780814438039
Page Count: 224
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814438084

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Introduction – Charting a Roadmap to Great Ideas

A New Approach to Growth

What do a revolutionary scooter, cat food, and an eGovernance platform in Africa all have in common? More than you would think. They are all products of an innovation approach called the Jobs Roadmap. The Jobs Roadmap is a straightforward process that enables companies to consistently uncover new opportunities and generate great ideas. It’s based on the groundbreaking work of Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, who popularized the concept of Jobs to be Done as a surefire way to spur innovation. By combining a deep understanding of customer needs, attitudes, and behaviors with hard data on the market landscape, the Jobs Roadmap enables companies to arrive at insights and solutions that are original and profitable. It makes the concept of Jobs to be Done highly actionable.

So much of today’s current thinking sees innovation as a creative free-for-all where the best ideas inevitably rise to the surface. Teams sit in front of whiteboards and brainstorm lots and lots of ideas for new products that their company can offer, or they imagine numerous creative ways for their organization to grow. The winning ideas are usually chosen not through any consistent process but through a one-off assessment of what seems most promising given the information on hand, the company’s internal climate, and the preferences of key stakeholders. Rarely are customer insights fed into the process in any meaningful and systematic way, and hardly ever are the results breakthrough innovations. Even when organizations hit the jackpot with a new product or service, they soon realize that they don’t know how to replicate their success a second time.

This book was written to help organizations tackle the challenge of innovating in a way that is consistent and repeatable, using Jobs to be Done as the cornerstone of a rigorous framework. Our view is that to create innovation it’s necessary to focus on the approach taken as much as on the ideas themselves. In fact, we argue that getting the “how” of innovation right will in large part determine the quality of the “what” – the solutions that organizations ultimately produce. Through a detailed but straightforward approach, which we call the Jobs Roadmap, companies can navigate the various requirements of innovation and consistently come up with winning solutions.

Customer insight is at the center of the Jobs Roadmap. Understanding what jobs customers are trying to get done and the obstacles they face in doing so points to fertile terrain for new solutions. As a framework, the Jobs Roadmap offers a logical approach to any innovation project – enabling organizations to gain a deep understanding of their customers and key stakeholders, focusing idea generation around big opportunities, and creating parameters that enable the quick and inexpensive testing of new solutions.

Why We Need a New Approach

The customer is always right. Especially when it comes to innovation. Whether they know it or not, customers have the answers for where the next big breakthrough will be. The problem is that customers are notoriously bad at imagining the product that solves their problems and conceptualizing how they would interact with truly breakthrough solutions. As Henry Ford reputedly put it, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” The trick is figuring out how to unlock the right information that can get you to the winning solution without relying only on asking people what they want. This critical step is where many innovation efforts fail.

It’s not for lack of effort. Companies often invest heavily to understand the “voice of the customer.” They may gather overwhelming amounts of data around current and potential customer behavior, opinions, and attitudes. Problems arise when these organizations try to figure out what to do with all the information; they lack a structured way of determining what’s important and what’s not. This makes it difficult to figure out the right direction to take.

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