Tag Archives: Innovation

THE ONE PERCENT EDGE Now Available on NetGalley

One-PercentEdgeRemember Polaroid? Firestone? Montgomery Ward? RadioShack? Like hundreds of once-booming businesses, these fallen giants failed to anticipate and adapt to change. Driven by technology and globalization, change has become the constant state of the business climate. Long-term strategic planning is obsolete. Playing catch-up is for losers. Business leaders need to be visionary and agile—that’s all a given. The challenge is how to make foresight and innovation doable on a day-to-day basis.

Journalists, booksellers, book reviewers, librarians, and media professionals interested in small business are invited to request Susan Solovic’s The One Percent Edge: Small Changes That Guarantee Relevance and Build Stable Success.

It presents a six-step process for making incremental adjustments in seven core areas: leadership, customer relations, products and services, people, marketing, operations, and finance. With diligent application, step by step and tweak by tweak, any business will continually improve, be proactive rather than reactive, and stay competitive.

SUSAN SOLOVIC is an Internet pioneer and attorney, as well as a trusted authority on small business issues. A former small business contributor on ABC News, she regularly appears on Fox Business, Wall Street Journal’s “Lunch Break,” and Newsmax. She is also a featured blogger on Constant Contact, Entrepreneur, and FoxBusiness.com, among other sites, and author of The New York Times bestselling It’s Your Biz (AMACOM, 2011). She lives in Jupiter, Florida. Her coauthor, RAY MANLEY is a freelance writer and content marketing expert based in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

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NetGalley is a service for people who read and recommend books, such as book reviewers, journalists, librarians, professors, booksellers, and bloggers.

There are a number of different reading options for this e-galley:

Find all of AMACOM’s e-galleys on NetGalley.

You can review how to get AMACOM’s digital galley request approval on NetGalley HERE.

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Podcast: Stephen Wunker on Jobs to Be Done

Jacket cover of Jobs to Be Done by Stephen Wunker, Jessica Wattman, and David Farber Stephen Wunker recently sat down with the AMA Edgewise team to discuss his book, JOBS TO BE DONE: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation (co-written with Jessica Wattman and David Farber), and how the best companies don’t focus on innovation for the sake of innovation: they determine what the customer wants–and not simply the product the customer wants to buy, but the end result they want to achieve. It’s customer-centered innovation, and it’s the right way to do innovation.

Stephen Wunker says most companies are innovating the wrong way. They’re making what their customers say they want. Instead they should be asking “why” their customers want those things and making a product the customer didn’t even know the needed. Today on Edgewise Stephen joins us to give examples of companies doing it right and to talk more about his book Jobs to Be Done, published by AMACOM.

Listen to Stephen Wunker on the AMA Edgewise Podcast.

Stephen Wunker, author of Jobs to be Done

 

STEPHEN WUNKER worked with Clayton Christensen for years, led development of one of the first smartphones, and now runs New Markets Advisors. He has written for Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The Financial Times.

 

Listen to more interviews with AMACOM authors on the AMA Edgewise Podcast.

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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.

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The Right Approach to Innovation: Stephen Wunker on Jobs to Be Done

Today on the blog we’re featuring part 1 of an interview with Stephen Wunker, one of the authors of JOBS TO BE DONE: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation (AMACOM November 2016). Innovation is one of the central buzzwords of our current era–but so many companies go about it the wrong way. Read on for Wunker’s explanation of how to do it right. Stay tuned for part 2 next week!

 

  1. Many companies focus on asking customers what they want or how satisfied they are with their past purchases. Why do these common questions represent the wrong approach to innovation?

The analogy we often make is that using past behavior and customer wish lists to innovate is like trying to drive using only the rearview mirror.  When customers talk about what they want in a product, they’re drawing on what they already know, often from looking at what your competitors are already doing.  If you want to design truly innovative products that customers will seek out – and even pay a premium for – you need to understand what tasks they’re struggling to get done in their lives.  We call those tasks their jobs to be done.

 

  1. What is the Jobs to be Done concept, and why is that a better way to innovate?

The Jobs to be Done concept basically says that customers “hire” products to get things – or “jobs” as we call them – done in their lives.  When the products that they’re currently using make it difficult to get a job done, they’ll start thinking about “firing” those products in favor of new ones.  Think about hailing a taxi before Uber.  You might have to wait out in the rain hoping a cab would stop for you; then once you got a ride, you would nervously check your wallet as you watched the meter continue to tick up on the drive.  When you look at how many pain points there were around satisfying such a basic job – confidently being able to get from point A to B – it’s no wonder that consumers were so willing to embrace a solution that could improve the experience.

 

  1. In the book, you talk about jobs being both functional and emotional. Why is that important?

When I said that Uber helps you confidently get from point A to B, you’ll notice that that includes both a functional and an emotional piece.  Getting where you need to go is important, but so is knowing that someone will actually pick you up as you race to catch a flight or that your driver won’t bring you in circles to increase your fare.  That emotional piece is what helps companies set themselves apart from the competition, and it’s often what allows you to create premium offerings that you can charge more for.

 

  1. When we talk about a lot of new companies, whether it’s Uber or Airbnb, we often say they’re disruptive. How does this idea of disruptive innovation relate to Jobs to be Done?

It’s no coincidence that disruptive innovation and Jobs to be Done were both popularized by Clayton Christensen.  He’s a professor at Harvard Business School and was actually my mentor for a number of years.  His two theories are closely related.  Disruptive innovation helps you understand when a market is overshooting what customers actually need – when it’s primed for someone to step in and excel along the dimensions that really matter.  Jobs to be Done tells you what those dimensions are.  It tells you how to design the products or services that customers really want, even if they’re struggling to articulate exactly what it is they’d want in a new offering.

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Random Quotes from New Books This November

The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want by Diane Mulcahy

Jacket cover of The Gig Economy

“Contract and part-time work without benefits used to be largely limited to ‘bad jobs’ in fast food, retail, and other service companies. Now that contractor work is infiltrating core middle-class industries, it’s gaining more attention. An executive assistant used to be a good middle-class job. Now we can hire a virtual assistant, in the United States, India, or anywhere else, by the hour. If we want an accountant or bookkeeper, we can automate most of that function on QuickBooks or hire a contractor via Upwork, LinkedIn, or FlexJobs. Universities already pay teachers by the course as adjunct professors, and those part-time, non-tenured faculty members (of which I am one) now make up a growing minority of teachers at many U.S. colleges and universities. How long will it be before this teaching model moves into our public school system? The more the Gig Economy demonstrates that white-collar and professional work can be restructured, contracted out, and purchased more cheaply, the more disruptive it feels(pages 9-10).

Hard-Won Wisdom: True Stories from the Management Trenches by Jathan Janove

Jacket cover of Hard-Won Wisdom

“I’ve heard many similar complaints about millennials from managers like Sam. They follow the same theme: millennials aren’t loyal, they’re too self-focused, their work ethic is problematic, and they don’t communicate well. My response is always the same: Don’t create self-fulfilling prophecies. The minute you indulge in the stereotypes, you’re doomed to experience what you don’t want. A better idea is to use your millennials as a test case for the concepts and tools I’m sharing in this book. Start with the What/Why Ratio: Every time you tell an employee what to do, explain why, the purpose served by the action. Think of the alternative reference to millennials: Generation Y (as in the one that followed Generation X. Only think of it not as the letter Y but the word why. Make the What/Why Ratio 1:1 and watch what happens to the relationship” (pages 32-33).

Jobs to Be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation by Stephen Wunker, Jessica Wattman, and David Farber

Jacket cover of Jobs to Be Done

“Let’s look at the grocery industry. A few years back we conducted Jobs research for a client who wanted further insight into people’s decision making about what they took home from the store and why. Through the research, we noted that at least three stakeholder types would have distinct requirements in the shelf-to-table flow: the person buying the product, the person preparing the food, and the person eating the food. Certainly, there was often overlap…But this varied from scenario to scenario. If we had observed only the in-store shopper, we might have assumed that price and fit into established shopping patterns were the most important jobs to satisfy. Had we focused our efforts on the meal preparer, we might have determined that ease of preparation reigned supreme. Had we simply talked to someone who just finished a meal, the level of spiciness might have been top-of-mind insight. Looking too narrowly would have led to a new product that failed to satisfy important stakeholders” (pages 50-51).

Leading the Unleadable: How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, and Other Difficult People by Alan Willett

Jacket cover of Leading the Unleadable

Note that you can have terrible form while serving a tennis ball. You might get an ace. However, without truly proper form and follow through, you will find the ace is just an accident.
Sometimes taking the actions prescribed in the previous chapter does work almost like magic. Things get better immediately and stay better. However, without follow through, you will find them to also be happy accidents” (page 83).

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Want to sample other AMACOM books? Check out our Random Quotes from New Books series.

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