Customer Journey Mapping and Outcome-Driven Innovation® - When to Use Which Method?

Successful innovations are based on a profound understanding of customer needs. “Customer-centric” market research and innovation approaches comprise different methods, such as Customer Journey MappingCustomer Touchpoint Analysis, Value Proposition Design and Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI). All are strong and proven methods. The question is: When to apply which method? 

 In this article we would like to discuss some of the essential differences and possible applications of two selected methods: Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) and Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI). Although the methods may appear similar at first glance, they are quite different. They differ not only in their technical approach, but also take a completely different perspective on customer needs, and therefore provide answers to different questions.


Use Customer Journey Mapping if you want to understand your customers’ experience with existing products and services

Customer journey mapping (CJM) is about gaining a better understanding of the actual behavior and experience of customers. It aims at understanding the status-quo experience that a customer goes through with an existing product or service. One may identify potential for innovation out of this understanding. However, the sort of innovation that will spring from this point of view is likely to be limited to the consumption chain of products and services. 

Let us illustrate this with an example: Imagine a customer wants to use a navigation app to help her walk from A to B, for example when taking a hike. Mapping out the customer journey helps understand steps, hurdles and needs when using a particular navigation solution when on a fine-grained level. These could include for example: searching for a spot on the map, selecting the best itinerary option, adjusting the itinerary to personal preferences, etc. 

The customer journey may also focus on the selection of a navigation app itself: Initially the customer discovers the way finder app (e.g. on a social media channel), then she compares it with several similar apps in terms of their functions, features, or price differences, then she purchases it and uses the app when walking from a point A to a point B. If she is happy with the product, she may also recommend it to his friends, and so on. 

This is an important view and it can be very informative for the seller of a navigation app, but it does not focus on the actual job the customer wants to get done, which is, eventually getting from A to B. Furthermore, CJM has to focus by design on users of apps, neglecting people who do not use navigation apps. Thus, not all people who have the job are included in CJM research. 

CJM is thus oriented towards an actual process. It´s about seeing the interaction of a person (often a predefined persona) with an already existing solution (what is seen on the app screen, which functions are available, etc.). It is totally incased in a given solution. 


Use Outcome-Driven Innovation if you want to know what job executors want to achieve independent of current solutions

Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) starts at the front end of an innovation process. It aims at understanding the underlying job a customer wants to get done – regardless of the product or service she is actually using (e.g. way finder apps, tourist information, markers, signposts, road maps, weather forecast, etc.).  

Let’s apply this again to our example. Using Outcome-Driven Innovation®, the job-to-be-done could be described as follows: “Get from A to B”. The customer needs around this job-to-be-done could refer to the estimated walking time from point A to point B, to the equipment required for a certain trail, the difficulty level of a route, the weather, possible stops on the way, etc. There are many possibilities.  

As we can see from the example, the solution space differs significantly from the CJM approach, as the focus of the research is no longer on the navigation app, but on the job the customer wants to get done, regardless of whether she uses an app or a completely different solution to get the job done. These insights open up new opportunities for growth and widen the potential solution space beyond apps. 

needs-based segmentation around this certain job-to-be-done allows you to identify under- and overserved groups of customers and new opportunities to pursue. We may find that one segment has underserved needs in terms of estimating the walking time, while another segment has underserved needs around choosing the best equipment for a trail, predicting the weather, or validating the difficulty level of a particular route. Thus, different products and services may be required to address different needs of different groups of customers. 

Whatever strategy is derived from ODI results, your strategy is based on real customer needs that are valid for as long as the job itself exists. Precise and solution-free outcomes formulated in the ODI process serve as a guideline throughout the entire innovation process, from segmenting the market, sizing the growth opportunity, generating feature ideas, concept development and creating product messaging.  


Conclusion – when to use which approach?

There are various so-called “customer-centric” research approaches that may seem similar at first glance – we have gone into more detail on two of them. Before you decide on an approach, make sure what kind of result you need for your innovation challenge:  

Do you want to stay close to the existing solution using CJM, or does it make more sense to go solution-free with intent using Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI)? The methods are not mutually exclusive. They can be combined and applied in different phases of an innovation process. 

  • CJM is a great if you want a detailed view about an existing product or service. It will fuel your “go to market” strategy as soon as it is clear what the solution is. It may therefore make more sense at a later stage in the innovation process.  
  • ODI aims at finding out what the customer ultimately wants to achieve independent of existing solutions. This approach fuels your innovation road map on the level of both, incremental solutions of existing products as well as radical innovations such as new product modules or entirely new solution platforms.  


First do the right things – then do things right

Innovation is not just about doing things right, more importantly it´s about doing the right things. When it comes to innovation strategy, many companies still fall into a product-centric trap: the unspoken goal of innovation is to sell more of an existing product (e.g. the navigation app) instead of developing the best solution to help customers get their job done (which may not be an app at all!)  

Needless to say, a good concept for implementation is important. But it is of little use if the wrong concept is implemented. So first of all, the right problem must be defined and properly framed. Putting the focus right at the beginning of an innovation process allows you to push those concepts that truly meet customer needs in the end. 

Are you curious to learn about other customer-centric research approaches, and how they differ to Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI)? Then write us a short note and tell us what method the upcoming blog article should be about! 

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