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I Get It! People Really Want Quarter Inch Holes, Not Quarter Inch Drills. But Now What?

In the last article, we took our initial job statements and explored if these jobs are primary jobs (“core” jobs) or sub-jobs of a primary job. The purpose of this analysis was to create a clearer picture of the overall scope and complexity of the target job(s) under investigation. And get a preliminary read if the target job(s) is attractive and sufficient to innovate around by answering:

  1. Is the target job clear and definable?

  2. Is the target job too trivial and obvious?

  3. Is the targeted job too broad to be meaningful?

  4. Does the targeted job fit within our business strategy defined as

  5. Where we want to play (the market) and where we won’t play.

  6. How we will win (exploiting our current and future capabilities to innovate and launch successful products).

Recall our fictitious company Myopia Door. Before applying the jobs-to-be-done innovation lens, they viewed themselves as being in the business to make doors. Their business model was to make and sell standard doors to contractors, as well as respond to custom door spec jobs for higher end home designs.

Like many companies, Myopia’s business model had served them well to date, but now they are experiencing more competition. They are beginning to compete on price and margins are eroding quickly. Though they have made improvements in their manufacturing processes, they simple are not set up to be the “low-cost” leader in the market. They cannot win at that game.

They want more high-end custom door jobs, but they are having problems scaling this business. Not enough architects or builders are seeking them out for their solutions. And “one-offs” don’t provide enough margin contribution to justify growing the custom business as currently defined. It just adds more projects into an already over tapped development and manufacturing schedule causing delays and budget overruns.

Myopia Door needs to change the rules of the game and/or find a new playing field to compete on – but where and how?

Though it seemed like a radical idea, if not nonsensical, Myopia’s innovation team allowed itself the freedom to think differently and frame the market from the jobs-to-be-done perspective.

“People don’t need doors – People need security, privacy and interesting room transitions to enhance the flow between spaces in their homes.”

Myopia Door hypothesized that architects and homebuilders could add more value to their offerings by creating more interesting and secure living space though novel passageway systems.

Further Myopia believed it could help builders get more construction jobs done better by designing door systems that are easier to install. And include important new features and functions that integrate security and “awareness” (i.e. exploiting the “internet of things”) into their products.

Myopia’s lightbulbs were turning on. Lots of great ideas. But which ones represented the best new growth opportunity? Which ones could they realistically solve with a reasonable level of assurance that the opportunity was real and worth pursuing? It was time for Myopia to conduct a “job-scene-investigation.”

Understand what customers’ true needs by conducting Job-Scene-Investigations (JSI’s)

Before starting a “job-scene-investigation,” it is important to have a preliminary job definition (job statement or job statements) in place. Without direction, much time and resources can be wasted on chasing interesting but not relevant information. Most likely you will not learn what you hope to learn because you don’t know what you are looking for, and won’t recognize it if you see it.

By focusing on important jobs that people need to get done, we can determine what specific outcomes job executors want to achieve. And what prevents them from achieving their outcomes and objectives with 100% satisfaction. In other words, why aren’t they getting their important jobs done perfectly?

There is no one-single right way to discover if a job under investigation is important, viable and attractive. To play the game of innovation to win, we need a set of plays (methods) we can draw upon to work our way through the knowledge funnel which represents the innovation playing field (see figure 1).

iNPD knowledge funnel

Figure 1: The Knowledge Funnel and New Product Development Phasesfrom “The Innovator’s Playbook: Discovering and Transforming Great Ideas Into Breakthrough New Products” (www.theinnovatorspaybook )

I like to use football as an analogy to explain why the situation dictates the plays (methods) an innovation team faces in advancing ideas through the knowledge funnel.

The plays a successful football team will call when facing first and goal at the one yard line, will most likely be totally different than the plays it calls when facing third down and 20 yards from their own 10 yard line. That is, if the team is committed to winning the game, and has a playbook to deal with the game situation.

In future articles, we will continue to build our innovator’s playbook and draw up a set of plays to conduct job-scene-investigations effectively based on where we are on the innovation playing field. Our playbook will be designed to test early, test often and test cheaply to answer the quintessential question:

Is this job under investigation a great opportunity worth pursuing? And if so, what must the solution provide in value to win the customer’s business and beat the competition?

Myopia Door is ready to advance the “idea football” down the innovation playing field and create new opportunities based on important jobs people want done. Stay tuned on how they will approach the game of innovation to win.


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