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Putting Theory Into Practice Part 14: Final Thoughts on Great Idea or Solution Looking For A Problem

We covered a lot of process steps in our 14 part series on discovery driven design  describing how to take an initial idea and frame it into a preliminary customer value proposition (the business hypothesis) using the Jobs-To-Be-Done Marketing Lens, how to identify key assumptions using the business model canvas and reverse P&L tools, and using early stage Voice-of-Customer research to validate and discover the important jobs customers are trying to get done and how they define “success” in their own terms.

We have learned that it is not realistic to simply ask customers what new products they would like to make their life’s simpler  because most customers aren’t thinking in these terms. More than likely the answers we will get will be at best incremental improvements to the current way people are getting their jobs done.

However, if we focus specifically on understanding what the actual job (or jobs) that people are trying to do we can uncover a rich source of data leading to new insights on customers desired outcomes and the constraints and circumstances that prevent them from achieving 100% satisfaction.  Customers may or may not know “how” to get their jobs done better but they will know why they are doing the jobs in the first place and what they are trying to achieve by doing the jobs.

It is up to us as developers and innovators to listen to and observe the jobs customers are trying to get done. Our target customers are the experts in executing their current jobs. But the customers may be too close to their own circumstances that they can’t see beyond their own standard operating processes (how they get “it” done today).  They use the tools that they are familiar with and either struggle and/or muddle to get the job done (important desired outcomes aren’t being met) or perhaps the current tools provide them enough satisfaction that they don’t need a change (the desired outcomes are being met – status quo will rule).

Clearly the best opportunities arise when we identify important jobs where the customer’s desired outcomes aren’t being met. These are the opportunities we want to focus our development resources on. And when we find customers who are by in large satisfied with their current desired outcomes in getting their jobs done – there is a good chance that his is an “over served” market that will be difficult to compete in unless we can present some credible compelling advantage to change their minds.

In part 10 we learned how to use quantitative questions such as “on a scale of 1 to 10, what level of satisfaction are you achieving in getting your job done?” And how to use follow up qualitative question such as “why did you give it that score?” and “what would it take to make it a 10?”  The qualitative questions and probing provides the real insights into what customers really want.

These initial insights help us frame a better understanding of  the true desired outcomes job executers are trying to achieve. By parsing the data from the initial interviews into “desired outcome statements” we can conduct our next level of research to determine the set of desired outcomes job executers define as most important to them  and of these which ones are being met or exceeding their expectations (over served outcomes) and which ones aren’t being met or failing miserably (underserved outcomes). By identifying important outcomes that are underserved, we can potential define a successful new product strategy to capture a “blue ocean” opportunity. (I’ll talk more about Blue Ocean Strategy in future blogs.)

As for team Teknovantage (our fictitious company), perhaps they discovered that their “location aware” tools did create deep dialog about desired outcomes but that the real opportunity wasn’t so much to help construction workers find misplaced tools on the job site but rather help the tool crib managers make sure job executers were coming to the work site with the right tools and  that these job executers’ desired outcomes are to improve the overall management of  inventorying tools and keeping tools in working order.

Thus the primary  job executer for team Teknovantage would higher up in the consumption chain – the tool crib managers.  Of course this is very hypothetical – but illustrates the power of discovery driven design and jobs-to-be-done marketing lens: What we thought was a good opportunity turned out not to be as important as a related problem that represents a more promising opportunity Teknovantage should pursue.

Though there are much more details we can drill down on we will conclude our multi-part series on “Putting Practice Into Theory: Discovery Driven Design” for now.  I’ll be visiting various elements and steps in using discovery driven design and introduce you to VALID Innovation Discovery Driven Design framework to help you develop products customers want and will buy while avoiding the frustration and waste of launching product duds. For now, keep innovating by focusing on the jobs customers want to get done, their desired outcomes, and the circumstances and constraints that prevent them from achieving 100 % satisfaction.



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