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Finding the right "focus adjustment" for your innovation space

I have a three-year-old son who keeps me busy by asking “Why”. “Why are you turning the vacuum cleaner on?” – “Because I want to remove dirt from the floor.” “Why do you want to remove dirt from the floor?” – “Because I want to keep our house clean.” “Why do you want to keep our house clean?” – “Well, because…” At some point I always get stuck looking for a good answer and asking myself: what is the real goal I am trying to achieve beyond the obvious?

The same way of thinking is applied in Jobs-to-be-Done theory to define the target area for innovation. According to Jobs-to-be-Done thinking, people “hire” products and services to get a specific job done. For example, people can use a software program to keep track of their financial plans or they can entrust the job to a financial administrator: two completely different solutions for the same job-to-be-done (“keep track of financial plans”). The whole power of the theory lies in having a good definition of the job-to-be-done, as it enables companies to think and find opportunities beyond existing boundaries – meaning beyond existing solutions.

Defining the job-to-be-done at the right level of abstraction is one of the most critical steps of Outcome-Driven Innovation®, the innovation process that puts Jobs-to-be-Done theory into practice. And it is anything but trivial: defining it too narrow (meaning too close to existing solutions) will limit the innovation space, allowing only incremental improvements. On the other hand, defining it too broadly might lead to non-viable results. That’s why we talk about finding the right “focus adjustment” when looking at a market through the Jobs-to-be-Done lens. A job-to-be-done is well-defined when it acts as a driving force for innovation by being one level above existing solutions, thereby opening up the innovation opportunity space while still remaining in reach for a company and still being suited to its overall strategy and competences.

Providing a higher perspective is one thing Jobs-to-be-Done thinking can do for your growth ambitions. But there’s more. In my next blog I will explain why the job-to-be-done provides long-term guidance for your innovation strategy and why it is always bigger than you think.

 

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