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2 Takeaways for your Small Business from Jobs-To-Be-Done

Published on Feb 08, 2017.

One of the things I do well is coming up with ideas, sometimes they are small ideas and sometimes they are big ideas that require quite a bit of financial backing and bandwidth. A couple of months ago, I was sitting in a team meeting brainstorming ideas for a new product that our department was looking at launching in the market, only there was one problem...We had no idea what the customer was actually trying to get done.

Sound familiar?

A few months following these meetings, I began reading Anthony Ulwick’s new book titled Jobs-To-Be-Done. Jobs-to-be-Done is the theory that “people buy products and services to get a job done and that new products and services win in the marketplace if they help customers get a job done better and/or more cheaply”, and it employs Outcome Driven Innovation strategy “a strategy and innovation process that ties customer-defined metrics (desired outcomes) to the Job-to-be-Done, making value creation (innovation) measurable and predictable”, in order to discover underserved markets within industries. Therefore, Outcome Driving Innovation can help companies innovate with a higher level of success (86%).

So what can your small business take away from this theory?

Here are the 2 most important ideas to take away from Jobs-to-be-Done theory and the Outcome Driven Innovation process:

Trust the customer. Invest some time in this. Your product might look amazing on the conference room whiteboard but will it get the job that the customer is trying to get done better and more cheaply than your competition? You will not know the answer to this by speaking only to those within the doors of your business. The most important part of Outcome Driven Innovation is getting out into the marketplace and asking questions that will provide your team with legitimate feedback into what a customer's job may be. After you compile a list of customer’s desired outcomes, you will be able to see where your current market or new markets are underserved or overserved and, therefore, more accurately innovate based on those specific Jobs-to-be-Done.

Invest in the research. The research is the key part of Outcome Driven Innovation and Jobs-to-be-Done theory. Without the knowledge and understanding of the customer and their desired outcomes, your company will unlikely be able to make the necessary changes in order to succeed in the marketplace. Your odds of guessing what a customer really wants and being successful at it are likely similar to winning the lottery. As a small business or startup your finances are probably pretty tight. If there is one place to splurge, make sure it is on the qualitative and quantitative research needed to develop a detailed list of desired outcomes in a specific market. Take your time. Innovation is not a race; although, we have been told it is. There are always new ways to innovate in a market even if it has been overserved for years. Take your time and do the research accurately and correctly. It will save you time and money in the long run.

The same thing goes for any theory, take what you like from it and what you think will work and then test it. Small businesses do not have the funds, resources or bandwidth to hire high priced outside consulting agencies. Use these two key takeaways from Jobs-to-be-Done theory to help jumpstart your company's future in Outcome Driven Innovation.

Written by Tate Glasgow
Media & Events Coordinator
Boise Center Site Manager
The Center for Professional Development
Northwest Nazarene University

Contact the Center for Professional Development at NNU about a free Strategic Value Design consultation for your business.