In his seminal work 'What Customers Want', the renowned innovation strategist Anthony Ulwick proposed that to improve the success rate of value proposition innovation, the focus should be beyond customer-driven, innovation should be customer outcome-driven.
His outcome driven innovation and now widely implemented 'jobs to be done' theory is based on two fundamental tenets: whether as consumers or businesses, we buy products and services to help complete jobs or tasks; as individuals and organisations, we use a wide variety of performance measures to evaluate the outcomes - how well a product or service performs in this regard
If follows that an understanding both exactly what customers want - what jobs they are trying to get done - and the performance measures that matter for different customer segments - how they measure the outcomes - should underpin the ideation phase of any innovation program. Additionally, its important to have an understanding of the constraints that may might prevent adoption of a new product / service / process.
The process of gathering these three sets of customer inputs is more business critical than ever in today's rapidly evolving world, and elucidating the required insights demands deep ethnographic research, employing a much more sophisticated set of methods than traditional 'voice of the customer' or focus group market research methodologies.
Instead of seeking to capture desirable solutions, specifications, needs or benefits, customer research should focus on informing the clarity of the 'jobs to be done', the desired customer outcomes and constraints.
Where is the value in this approach?
- Knowing which jobs are important and under-served informs opportunities for growth
- By satisfying outcomes that are under-served - helping customers get a job done better, get more jobs done or do jobs for which there are currently no solutions- creates value
- Understanding constraints can open up new markets.
Of course, strategy always comes first. Prior to undertaking such research, it is imperative that organisations have an innovation strategy that provides clear focus on for which customers they want to create value, where they want to play in the value chain, and how they want to do this.