Even if you have successfully created an innovative product and brought it to market, it is likely that your competition will surpass you eventually if you remain complacent. That is why when it comes to innovation and product development, you need to begin by focusing on the most important factor: your customers.
By clearly understanding your customers’ relationship with your product, you can develop a strategy for continuous innovation that will help you stay ahead of the competition.
Understanding Your Customers With Jobs-to-Be-Done
One framework that can be helpful in this process is called “jobs-to-be-done.” This approach focuses on understanding the complex set of circumstances that lead a customer to “hire” your product to do a specific job. In other words, it focuses on what they are trying to do by using your product rather than assuming that they are just deciding to buy it.
To use this framework, you need to think about your product from the perspective of your customer. What “job” does it help them do? And what are the circumstances surrounding this job? By understanding the answers to these questions, you can develop a clear strategy for innovation that will keep your product ahead of the competition.
For example, let’s say you are a company that makes sneakers. If your goal is to be more innovative, you need to think about what job your sneakers are hired to do. Whether your customers are buying your sneakers to make a fashion statement, to keep themselves comfortable, or to withstand heavy athletic wear is a big discrepancy. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what they are actually using your product for, it will be difficult to continuously update your product to keep fitting their needs better than your competition.
Creating a Product With Outcome-Driven Innovation
When your customer uses your product, they are expecting it to complete a job for them in a way that meets multiple criteria, which are called “outcomes”. As a product developer, it is your job to understand what these “outcomes” are and design your product in a way that helps them achieve them better than anyone else.
This focus on outcomes rather than features is what is called outcome-driven innovation. It starts with the customer’s desired outcome of using the product and works backward to design a product that best meets their needs.
This approach is different from the traditional approach of starting with the features of your product and trying to find a market for it. By adopting an outcome-driven innovation process, you can be sure that you are always focused on what your customer wants and needs. This makes it easy to innovate in a way that keeps your product ahead of the competition.
Innovation is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and focuses on your customers’ needs. The best way to do this is by using the jobs-to-be-done framework to understand their needs in detail. Then, using this method to reverse-engineer your innovation process and design products around your customers’ needs, you can be sure that you are always one step ahead of the competition.