How to Make Your Company More Innovative: Stephen Wunker on Jobs to Be Done

Today on the blog we’re featuring part 2 of an interview with Stephen Wunker, one of the authors of JOBS TO BE DONE: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation (AMACOM November 2016). Click here for part 1 of Stephen Wunker on the right approach to innovation.

5. What about companies that just aren’t innovative? Do you have any advice on how Jobs can play a role there?

We include a lot of the unsexy examples in the book for exactly that reason, from industries like pet food and sports clubs.  You don’t need to come up with the next Uber or iPhone, and most companies shouldn’t be trying to.  What’s great about using Jobs to be Done is that it gives you a common language to help build that culture of innovation, even where one has never existed before.  It helps get your customer insights people, your marketing team, your product development folks, and everyone else all on the same page.  Once companies start talking in Jobs terms, it’s amazing how much more in tune with customers they end up being.

6. For managers who want to start being more innovative tomorrow, what advice can you share with them?

I’ll give you three ideas.  First, get outside the office and talk to real customers.  That gets overlooked way too often.  Second, start thinking about how you might build a process to both understand and respond to customers’ jobs.  If success isn’t repeatable, you’re going to waste a lot of resources on failure.  Third, drop your industry-specific or product-specific way of looking at things.  When you start talking in terms of jobs, the whole landscape of competition changes, and so do the possibilities for innovation.

7. You’ve mentioned both jobs and circumstances as elements of success. What else is there that companies need to know about customers?

In the book we talk about a framework we call the Jobs Roadmap, which looks at eight different pieces that all come together to help us understand why customers buy what they buy.  That looks at everything from the jobs they’re trying to get done to the criteria they’ll use to evaluate a new solution to how much they value what it is you can offer.  Looking at all of those pieces is key.  Anyone can get lucky and launch a product that ends up being a success.  Having a process that allows you to repeatedly come out with breakthrough innovations is a lot more challenging.  That’s where you need a framework that allows you to consistently look at all the right elements.

 

8. One potential barrier I see is that a lot of companies already have innovation teams and set ways of innovating. Does Jobs to be Done fit with what they’re doing today?

One of the things we focus on in the book is how Jobs to be Done fits with the rest of the innovation process.  There are other key elements around strategy, ideation, and prototyping – just to name a few – that all need to be in alignment as well.  But the short answer to your question is yes.  Jobs to be Done is really a tool for reframing the questions that companies are already trying to answer and organizing the insights that they end up gathering.  Using Jobs to be Done doesn’t mean abandoning ideas like Lean Startup or Six Sigma.  They can all work together as long as you’re clear about when and where to use each one.

9. What about companies that just aren’t innovative? Do you have any advice on how Jobs can play a role there?

We include a lot of the unsexy examples in the book for exactly that reason, from industries like pet food and sports clubs.  You don’t need to come up with the next Uber or iPhone, and most companies shouldn’t be trying to.  What’s great about using Jobs to be Done is that it gives you a common language to help build that culture of innovation, even where one has never existed before.  It helps get your customer insights people, your marketing team, your product development folks, and everyone else all on the same page.  Once companies start talking in Jobs terms, it’s amazing how much more in tune with customers they end up being.

10. For managers who want to start being more innovative tomorrow, what advice can you share with them?

I’ll give you three ideas.  First, get outside the office and talk to real customers.  That gets overlooked way too often.  Second, start thinking about how you might build a process to both understand and respond to customers’ jobs.  If success isn’t repeatable, you’re going to waste a lot of resources on failure.  Third, drop your industry-specific or product-specific way of looking at things.  When you start talking in terms of jobs, the whole landscape of competition changes, and so do the possibilities for innovation.

jobs-to-be-done-wunker-interview

Save

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s