ODI Practitioner Insights: An Interview with Marco de Polo from Roche Diabetes Care (Part 2)

This is the second part of a recorded conversation between Marco de Polo from Roche Diabetes Care and Martin Pattera from Edizon. Marco, our long-standing client and an experienced ODI practitioner, describes the introduction of Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation® from an organizational standpoint and provides tips for interested companies.

Here you find Part 1 of this interview blog.

Martin: What would be the first steps to take if Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation® should be introduced in an organization?

Marco: I often hear of people trying to convince the top management that there is a good approach, or a good tool or a good process. That’s important, but I would also recommend building a grassroots movement and showing impact through results. That means running small projects that don’t require a lot of investment and showing results that prove that ODI implementation creates impact for your organization.

What would you recommend doing if someone plans to implement Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation® on a broader scale to become a customer-centric organization?

The key is leading by example. You can’t just show up with a PowerPoint presentation and show what JTBD & ODI is and how great it has been working for other organizations. That usually doesn’t work, at least not in our organization. You have to show results and then you have to lead by example.

The other part is that you have to include other departments, and let them own the JTBD mindset and ODI approach. It can’t be the “job” of a single unit, right? So my team is responsible for customer insights, but the insights need to be owned by several departments, not only by my team.

So you really need to approach this through a strong collaborative effort, so you can have other teams and other departments embrace the methodology as well. And then they will drive it as well.

What was the impact of Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation® on your product development?

The biggest impact we generated for product development was streamlining of the development pipeline. We had a clearer direction on which investments we should make in the early stages of product development. This helped our organization to minimize the waste of resources that occurs when you invest into the wrong solutions and develop those that actually never address unmet customer needs.

Are there specific roles that you need to develop or that you need to align with Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation® if you want to implement it in an organization?

That’s a very good and important question. There are multiple models that I’ve seen in organizations, such as the role of “catalysts”. Catalysts are people who are part of another department, but are trained in the methodology and are immersed into the content; they then become part of an internal community that multiplies and scales the department’s expertise.

And most importantly, this can be part of the cultural transformation that an organization is pursuing. This is work in progress and we’re at the beginning of it though.

Where in your organization is Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation® aligned with the top management level? Is there a certain top management position that maintains and supports it?

We get strong support from the senior executive management. They strongly believe in JTBD and the customer opportunity driven value creation process. My group belongs to the strategy and portfolio management unit, so we’re actually a neutral function. We don’t own any products and that’s a huge advantage, because we are not emotionally or in any other way attached to solutions.

It’s rather the opposite: we must care about customer value and not about products. It is very important that the insights team is a neutral function within the organization, so that it can wear different “hats”.

You work together not only with product management teams, but also with the top management, especially when it comes to strategy development. How does this work in your organization?

One of the most important effects on the innovation mindset is that we now have a common language to define what a customer need is, within our organization. And that’s been a struggle in the past.

I always say: “How is it possible that an organization can deliver value to the market if value hasn’t been defined?” JTBD thinking helps to find a common definition of what a customer need is, and what the difference between a met and an unmet need is. It also helps us to understand what value metrics customers use, and to recognize if and how we can address important problems for them.

So it’s really about language and alignment in the organization! The key is also not to worry about what customers do today, but to try to understand what our customers want to achieve and/or avoid at the end of the day.

How did Jobs-to-be-Done and Outcome-Driven Innovation® affect the way you make decisions?

We are currently driving this from a bottom up and top down approach. Therefore we developed the so-called “Lean Strategy Sprint Approach”. It’s a process that helps us to define where to play, how to play and how to win. The business teams need to own the results, but we deliver the content and the process together with other functions. The output of the strategy work is then owned by the senior executive management. We get very strong support to run this process. The JTBD is a very important puzzle piece, but there are many other puzzle pieces that are needed to inform the strategy.

When we talk about strategy development, there are two influencers: One influencer is technology and technology developments, and the other influencer is the market, market developments and customer needs. What is your experience in bringing these two aspects together to formulate a combined and comprehensive strategy?

We have to acknowledge that there is no right entry point into the value creation process. We can start with the customer problem, the unmet need and the customer opportunities; but it’s also okay to start with a technology first approach, because then we go back and focus on the question what customer problem that the technology solves; and if solved (= customer value), how we can generate business value.

At the end of the day, the organization should only care about customer value. There’s a need and there’s a solution, and if the solution addresses a highly unmet need, then there’s chance to generate value. We have to acknowledge that there is also a place for technology or solution first approaches. If the innovation process does not support a technology push approach, then we limit ourselves in searching and generating customer and business value.

If you could decide what to start with, what would you do first: understand customer needs or understand new technology possibilities? Where would you place the focus?

For us it’s really important to first get out of the office and to see and experience the environment, where we believe our customers face problems, challenges and barriers. For us the firsthand experience is absolutely key.

Today there are thousands of solutions that we could consider, and it is really difficult to decide which solution we should actually consider for value creation. Generating customer and business hypotheses and using them to narrow down the customer problems and needs, surfacing opportunity segments is a key activity. It’s really an iterative approach where we go out and talk to people, visit people, observe people in their natural environment; and from there we run experiments, exploratory and evaluative studies and so forth.

What is your future vision of the healthcare market 20 years from now? What will be different? What kind of developments will we expect to see?

That’s a very complex question. I would say, in future we need to help people improve their quality of life besides improving medical outcomes. As an organization, we want to achieve the best possible medical outcomes, but often the best possible medical outcomes are in a conflict with the desired quality of life outcomes of patients and their caregivers.

In order to improve the quality of life outcomes we must go beyond addressing the needs of the body – we must fundamentally understand people’s experiences, their fears, motivators, interactions as well as their mental models, beliefs and emotions. This a the key to offer solutions that are consuming less mental energy of people living with a chronic disease, and thus improve their quality of life.

I do believe that successful companies in the future will deliver “adaptive value”: solutions that are “smart” and thus can adapt to the needs of patients and their family members as well as to the needs of professional caregivers over time and across the entire journey of living with a chronic disease.

Thank you very much Marco. Let’s make the world a better place.

Yes, let’s! Thanks, Martin, for having me.

Thank you.

Marco is also one of our speakers at the 2nd JTBD SUMMIT EUROPE. He will hold a keynote on “Outcome-Driven Innovation Applied to Strategy – An Opportunity Driven Approach and Process to Strategy Development”. See the full program on our event website. 

Roche & Edizon: How the customer's JTBD accelerates decision making from strategy to product launch

Listen to the case study with Martin Pattera from Edizon and Marco De Polo from Roche. This track talk was recorded at the Innovation Roundtable® Summit 2018 in Copenhagen.

JTBD Summit , 24. Mar - 25. Mar, 2021


NEW DATE: MARCH 24-25, 2021. Due to the decision of the Austrian government to cancel events because of COVID-19 travel restrictions and due …


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