When you think of innovation, you will most likely think of technology, products, services, brands, perhaps even new business models first and foremost. But most people do not first think about the things that people want to achieve and how they can make their work easier. But "innovation" is no good if it does not bring about significant progress.
Who cares about products if you can't achieve any progress with them, or if you have too many questions or worry that the new solution will actually help? And then again: Who loyally uses one product when they can use a better or cheaper one that meets their needs? It is important to enable people to do things they could not do before, or to do them much better, faster, cheaper or safer.
If you want to innovate effectively, you must help people achieve progress
If you don't see technological improvements as an end in itself, and understand that ultimately the customer decides what is and isn't innovative, you have an enormous advantage over people who focus solely on technology. How well we understand the reasons why and the manner in which people want to achieve progress, as well as what things stand in the way of their progress, what strategies people typically apply to make progress, allow us to respond, plan and design effectively.
Customers can "use" various items and services to achieve their desired result. For example, to hold a meeting, they may book a meeting room or use conference telephone call solutions, or perhaps webinar software.
Complete tasks ("Jobs to be Done") to make progress
Jobs to Be Done is a powerful concept that allows us to better understand what customers want, and to change our self-image accordingly. It lets us be a service provider who adopts the tasks to be carried out by customers and concentrates all our efforts on doing this job in the best possible way.
To do this, we need to understand the customer's task and the circumstances under which they need to complete it. We no longer define ourselves by our product or service, but by the benefits we offer our customers. This view is more sustainable than defining yourself through a product, because technology and its capabilities are constantly changing, but "jobs" remain relatively stable.
The problem of selection
You can always decide anew (also depending on the situation) whether you want to complete a task - and if so, in what way. For example, if I am not sleeping well, I can try to turn my mattress, put a board under my mattress, take a sleeping tablet or painkiller, or even live with the unsolved problem.
When we want to improve products or innovate, it's basically about offering solutions that outperform existing ones. The application of the Jobs to Be Done concept can even sometimes restrict products or services, because when the product or service is tightly focused on the job, it is easier to use and understand.
In the next blog post, I will explain what advantages segmentation by job has over segmentation by customer demographics.
About the author
Eckhart Böhme worked for more than 18 years for an American software company and managed the training program for marketing staff at the corporate headquarters for many years. He is a trainer, speaker and author covering business models and development, lean startups and the Jobs to be Done concept. He was a technical consultant on the German translations of Clayton Christensen's latest book, Besser als Zufall (English version has yet to be released), and Eric Ries, The Startup Way, as well as the translator for Jonathan Briggs' Jobs to Be Done customer interview cards.