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How to innovate like elon musk with Jobs to be Done ?

Innovation has always been a top priority for corporations because what makes money today mayn’t be able to make money tomorrow. It is also a top frustration for business leaders because of the unpredictable risk reward equation. While day to day jobs consume and demand attention there is a heightened need not to take eyes off the market evolution.


Precisely, Innovation throws up a chicken and egg problem for organisations and their leadership teams. When companies are new and nimble, they have the huge challenge mustering resources to invest. When companies are established, they don’t have the risk appetite and bandwidth to experiment. The times we live in just amplifies that dichotomy. 


Studies has shown that the estimated time for an S & P Index 500 company is reducing at an alarming rate. Amount of time a large cap stock survives in the market has been constantly decreasing indicating a trend of under performance and disruption. 


With the rapid advancement in technology ecosystems, it’s increasingly becoming easy for anyone to disrupt. Today, innovation is table stakes that decides the very survival of business. It’s impossible for businesses to avoid “death trap” without innovation. We all know many stories of innovations gone wrong at Kodak (disrupted by digital media), yahoo (disrupted by google) to name a few 


To tide over this companies need to consistently


a) Attract Top Talent

b) Meet and Exceed Customer Expectation

c) Achieve Brand Differentiation in Marketplace

d) Improve Supply Chain Partnership and Efficiency

e) Grow Market Share through Penetration, Extension and Expansion

f) Anticipate the Futuristic product needs 


All of these important activities feed on one another. innovation connects all of them to deliver consistent outcomes. While it is recognised as important, corporations, enterprises and SMB’s struggle at innovation or successfully commercialise innovation. This is especially frustrating for those executives trying to foster innovation and an innovative culture. From a customer perspective, vast majority of innovations fall far short of ambitions and that is giving them jitters.


Innovation can be driven through qualitative, quantitative and blended approaches. When it comes to quantitative, never have businesses known more about their customers as they do today thanks to the data collection, data storage and data access technologies. companies now can collect an enormous variety and volume of customer data at unprecedented speed and perform analyses of it. Data driven innovation


It looks as if companies have mastered a scientific process. Yet, innovation performance and impact on business bottom line is still painfully hit-or-miss.Why is data driven innovation not delivering the results ? A research of this area highlights the below reasons. 

Why is data driven innovation not deliver the results ? 


A research of this area highlights the below reasons. 


a) Data is mostly used for tactical purposes

b) Organizations are just skimming the data

c) No systematic processes available to unearth insights

d) Distrust of Data due to Governance Challenges

e) Shortage of Data Science Talents

f) Lack of appropriately integrated digital tools  


Notwithstanding these challenges, fundamental problem is how data is used to show correlations. In an article written by Clayton Christensen et al in hbr they note that most managers have grown comfortable and over reliant on basing decisions only using correlations.While this is easy and comfort zone activity, this just solves the quantitative aspect while completely ignoring the qualitative side that highlights the context in which the data was funnelled into the system.. 


Organisations are failing in their innovation initiatives big time as they get stuck in the wrong direction. In other words, without knowing or including “why ?” a customer bought something (the data we don’t have) in the analysis they are trying to make sense of when and what he/she purchased (the data we have). 


A successful innovation is one that is able to align the demand side with the supply side. If there is no demand then whatever good is done on the supply side is lost and vice versa. There were many innovations that lost its track because of the assumptions and aspirations of demand.


Market research indicated an unmet need yet at a commercial level customers didn’t accept it. Classic case is the indian car “Tata Nano” whose productions were shut down recently. Obituaries have been written. It is not positioned. It is not safe. “World’s Cheapest Car” branding was wrong. aspiration class didn’t wish to be a associated with it. One of the critics even called it “solution in search of a problem”.

Why do customers make a purchase ? 


Take a sample case of ordering food. you need to be hungry (motivation), it is breakfast, lunch or dinner time (trigger), there is no food at home, have other work to complete and need help (inability). List goes on. What we need to understand is that fundamentally a purchase, engagement, interest and every other activity is a behaviour. Every behaviour is based on 3 different levers namely (abilities, trigger and motivation) coming together at the same time. Refer to B J Foggs Behavioral Model to know more. 


Customers made a purchase because they were triggered to do it, they lacked the ability to do it themselves and they were motivated by an urgent need to do it now. In other words, customer is trying to make progress with his current circumstance to accomplish a goal and your product/service is a tool that helps that objective. Essentially, the customer hired the product/service to get a job done in the best possible way in comparison to his context.


While it sounds straightforward, it is not. Studies of human psychology highlights the tensions we as people undergo before arriving at a decision. Behaviours are always preceded by decisions. Sometimes decisions are deliberate and in other circumstances intuitive. Decisions are preceded by Choice. Balancing the essentials with ideals is always a struggle while choosing. 


Extending the B J Fogg Model, Bob Moesta a leading consultant sought to explain this struggle we go through as we seek to accept the new into our life through a purchase. He articulated the forces model wherein he explained those things that is in favor of consumption and those things that stifle consumption.  


There are Push (internal and external) and Pull (expectation, outcome) forces accelerating the “why’s” to consume. There are also habits (internal and external) and concerns (self doubt and trust deficit ) that are stifling consumption and explaining “why not” to consume ? The study of the many why’s in our life and the circumstances leading up to the transition is embodied in the “jobs to be done” philosophy. There are many, many aspects to understand the situation. 


The roles one plays in life are ubiquitous. Roles – such as spouse, parent, charity volunteer, engineering professional, and manager – fulfill important functions within one’s family, community, and work lives. These roles also provide the individual with a sense of who one is and who one is becoming. 


Within organisations, everyone becomes, at one time or another, an employee, a subordinate, a manager, a department member, a customer, a supplier, a project team member, and the like. These roles are enacted or played either separately or simultaneously. It seems as though individuals, as well as organisations, can not function without roles wherein structured inter dependencies organise and create a network of intertwining tasks and responsibilities.

Why are roles important ? 


Simple. They define the job we do. They help us divide the job we do into task, delegate, hold self and others accountable, improve efficiency, leverage tools to improve communication and efficiency and list goes on. Depending on the role we are performing at that point in time our jobs also gets piled up. 


Mind you, We have many many jobs to be done in our lives. Some are like passing the time while waiting in line while other about submit a proposal. Some are urgent, some predictable, some routine. Hope you get the idea.  


We don’t buy a product but hire people or things to help us do a job. If it does the job well, we continue to use it. As it deteriorates in performance but completes the job we grudgingly continue. If it is impossible to continue using it, we start to explore for alternatives. In the corporate setting, many roles collaborate to complete a job. Decider, User, Influencer, Buyer are different roles that needs to be jointly convinced to in order to hire a new device.  


So far we have learned that people have roles. Each role has jobs to complete. Every Job can be broken down into tasks. Each Job/tasks has goals to achieve. As a scheduler or an executor of a job you are working to make progress. Wee hire people or things to get things done. 


Anything that is a persistent stumbling block inhibiting pro  

Jobs to be Done


Last updated Sep. 1, 2018


Program Director – Product Management

Digital Product leadership


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