Tackling the Internal Jobs-to-be-done for Improving Innovation

internal-frustration

We are constantly nudged towards understanding the needs of customers through the jobs to be done approach. So why do we still seem to not achieve this ‘higher purpose’ of providing solutions to customers’ needs?

Predictable growth has run its course as we live in unpredictable times; we need a better way to identify ALL those unmet needs that our customers have. That need comes from knowing the “job which needs to be done”. We need to sharp shoot to hit clear targets, we need to become a lot more explicit in our knowledge of a customer’s unmet needs, and they need to make the connection of that need with our product (or service).

Mapping the hierarchy of customer needs

We need to map the jobs and generate desired outcome statements that are specific and of real interest to the customer, not our list of multiple ideas generated based on where we are or what we think we know. We need to build the hierarchy of customer needs.

By even attempting to follow a ‘needs first’ approach we are often left to figure out the unmet needs. The flaw lies in not having these fully understood. All needs can be captured but this requires combining a more rigorous, controlled approach, coupled with astute observations.

The key still requires us to accurately quantify the degree to which a proposed solution will increase customer satisfaction – and that means knowing the job’s they want to complete.

We need to segment by jobs and to do this we need to capture this in clear, precise job outcome given statements. We need to become clearer on the product, service or business model ‘job’ it is intended to perform, measured by a customer’s desired outcome.

I really believe our internal processes are letting us down.

There is real scope to do a jobs-to-be-done (JtbD) evaluation internally, let me explain. We can become so intent on finding out the customer JtbD we might be forgetting the internal ones that need addressing as well, they get ignored and continue to ‘undo’ all the hard work of customer need discovery.

We need to fix the internal need for innovation first, the job we are trying to achieve. We are failing on this considerably.

So what is the internal job to be done?

Is it to keep everyone employed in developing and launching new products, to keep our innovation structures humming along or just because it is expected from us?

Surely the job to be done might be “to reduce the product failure rate” – the end need is to get into the innovation pipeline only high-value products that are sustainable, offer clear market differentiation and have a distinct demand. Often we allow products into the development pipeline that are less than stellar.

Actually we have a wide range of reasons for ensuring failure before the product even gets launched. These are the jobs-to-be-UNDONE that need to be eliminated.

Can you spot these happening within your organization? Do you sense you have seen or been part of this set of actions that had the triggering effect of altering the product from its original discovery point.

Failure Points Activity outcome and its potential impact on failure
Inattention Someone decides to deviate from the original detailed specifications and this impacts significantly on the JtbD originally identified but accepted internally as ‘an acceptable’ risk, without any tracking back and validating this ‘internal’ change and how it compromises the original need.
Lack of Ability The skills, conditions or training to execute the JtbD that has been identified, so as to successfully translate this back into a product that delivers on this need are not available within the organization. They are not brought in to offset this lack of internal ability, it becomes ‘let’s reinvent here’ failing to understand critical experience points.
Deviance The internal process suddenly gets short-circuited to speed up the process, the missing ingredient of understanding gets overridden by this need for speed or someone up top overrides the process and the deviance has a knock on effect that (radically) alters the final product intent.
Process Inadequacy The discovery and development process are faulty, they miss critical signs or ignore them and keep pushing on to keep to the prescribed project time line for fear of being singled out. To call stop is bad and indicates weakness not strength, so the process continues regardless
Uncertainty The initial idea lacks the type of real clarity researchers require, gaps begins to be filled in by one person’s assumption, that was ‘best’ judgement and ‘reasonable’ but produces undesired results that are difficult to call a stop too. Actions adjust going forward with future consequences
Task Challenge The task becomes far too difficult to execute reliably every time and the eventual production quality becomes variable and compromised and the products lacks consistency on that final finish and fails to meet the expectancies of the customer
Process Complexity Those well laid out plans, built on a complex final production layout suddenly encounter constant and sometimes novel interactions unexpected and cost overruns, delays, final product rejections all suddenly rise with variable final product results that should have been unacceptable but forced to be acceptable, but on to the consumer.
Hypothesis Testing The hypothesis sounded great, it was heavily backed as a winner but suddenly fails, sometimes when capital commitments have been made. Instead of simply ‘pulling the plug’ it begins to have a momentum of its own, heads go down to prove the hypothesis irrespective.
Exploratory Testing Some adjustments or experimentation made it into the final product, it was meant to be a clever addition to expand knowledge and cater to the JtbD need but has undesired results unforeseen or not thought through.

 

Tackling the internal JtbD is not easy. While we deviate, while we let internal interpretations into our new product development process we are building in the chance of product failure.

Managing the internal JtbD really does need thinking about.

Knowing the need of our customers and markets is the place that will get us towards growing our business. Yet we do need to focus more often on the failures we have in the internal Job to be Done to actually improve our product success rate. Internal ego’s and the innate wish to constantly meddle along the innovation development process seem to have many jobs that need to be undone.

We need as much internal discipline to stay focused and true to a discovered customer need within our internal processes and pipeline.

How often does a product in its development get altered to accommodate internal wishes? This internally driven perspective, intent on ‘just’ getting the product out of the door, because keeping it in its original state seems simply too hard for all sorts of reasons. The emotional factors kick in and you hear “compromise and cannibalise” and a host of other fear factors to protect existing products, systems or structures that are ‘turf’ driven.

Internally we have this need to identify the true internal jobs-to-be-done and that often centers around deviations from the “customer need discovery point” and it is these which might be causing more failure than you realized, well before any product gets launched. These internal failures need to be undone.

*******

Publishing note:  This blog post was originally written on behalf of Hype and with their permission I have republished it on my own site. I recommend you should visit the Hype blog site where they have a range of contributors writing about a wide-ranging mix of ideas and thoughts around innovation, its well worth the visit.

The Age of Large Business Model Reinvention

Most of our existing organizations are searching for the mechanisms to reinvent their business models, through identifying, designing and executing differently from the existing ones, where they tend to simply be ‘locking themselves into’ repeating patterns, possibly opening themselves up to new forces of disruption.

There is a sense of urgency that is growing at the corporate level, to master this ability to design different business models and then set about executing them, to combat the multiple ‘disruptive forces’ swirling around in the present and near term business environment.

Reinventing the Business model is such a big ask in the complexities to overcome, the legacies, the vested interests, the distribution of created wealth (dividends, bonuses, performance) are all ‘locked into’ the existing business. Many of those necessary bolder decisions get caught up in horrible compromise.  Parallel managing is both an art and a science but it always needs clarity.

Addressing the current dilemma within business models

So we have a classic dilemma, we need to manage and extract as much as we can from the existing business but simultaneously begin to reinvent, to design something different.

Caught up in this dilemma, increasingly the large organization is questioning how it can use the Business model canvas in more effective ways. I believe there are many exciting options available.

Business models need a common language, they need to be easily described and here is the fundamental value of the BMC – it can set about supporting a common understanding, it can be used to describe in multiple ways.

Here is my view  

Move the thinking. Move the emphasis. Today the BMC is discussed more as the blank canvas to start new ideas and concepts and its present focus has been in its use for start-ups and entrepreneurs. From these opening sketches the canvas does a great initial job to describe these ‘emerging’ concepts. We need to change this emphasis point.

The possible new dimensional values of the Business model canvas.

Make the Business model canvas as a multiple describing and communicating tool. We should shift our thinking and open our minds up to its (BMC) greater value within the larger organizations

These are clearly:

  • To simply explore new business models as the book, the Business model generation, originally sets out, in the how, what and where of doing this through the business model canvas approach. To experiment with all the advice, tools and experiences that have been built up since this book first appeared.

The richer and perhaps broader dimensions that large organizations should explore:

  • To ‘map’ changes to existing business models as they evolve or need to pivot differently. Steve Blank has explained this in significant detail and terms as the BM dashboard that ‘indicates’ the important changes and these become the focal point of necessary discussion, knowing what is changing, to focus the thinking and see what changes need supporting differently.
  • Then why not to sketch out competitors positions to explore possible opportunity gaps. This should become one of those consistent ‘habits’ that so many large organizations often have a real blind spot to undertake, they just keep assuming nothing has ‘visibly’ changed. Then they get caught out and surprised when they see their share slipping away as the competitor has made a directional change and this was not spotted and communicated to all parties who ‘need’ to know. The BM Canvas can spot and track competitors.
  • Use it as a designing dashboard for innovations that have or could have an impact on existing business models. Whenever you have any major BM change you capture it on your BM Canvas so all above and below in the organization can picture this to see the possible risks this change might bring.
  • Use it to compare business model components across each of the countries within the organization, where more often than not different models are being applied to build businesses in multiple ways. This enables all involved to quickly focus on the differences on these operating models and how the market formation is occurring to get quickly into the strategic discussions, implications and requirements this ‘specific’ approach takes.
  • When you are pitching for internal funds having a clear BMC as the visual focal point provides the top picture that others can quickly see and appreciate the why and how – they ‘see’ the value and the $$ potential, . This can offer ‘intelligent enquiry’ not getting bogged down in detail and getting involved in the running of the business but supporting owners or business managers with different experiences and knowledge to compliment theirs, so as to conduct the type of ‘intelligent’ and strategic conversation needed, instead of many that needlessly occur today.
  • To have ready alternative scenario’s for volatile business conditions as ‘early warning scenarios’ that have mapped out potential changing conditions showing where, why and how the business model might be adjusted or radically changed. The earlier ‘warning system’ pays in volatile times that we are all facing at present to be more aware and ready of rapidly changing conditions, possibly already ‘worked up’.
  • Managing multiple portfolios of business is a complex challenge to spot ‘commonality,’ to detect change, different opportunities or simply recognizing there is a growing ‘drift’ of direction that needs addressing. You can use the BMC as the detection kit, the reoccurring adopted format practice to capture these different portfolios.
  • Rapid concept brainstorming to move into prototyping evaluation and market testing. Testing many different variations in small bite sized bets is rapid prototyping, do this through the effective use of the business model canvas. Testing fast in the actual market place new business models and then learning from them to improve the approach is absolutely critical. Get the customer involved and engaged, get your potential partners grouped around the BMC to build and extend out, the internal thinking.

The business model needs to be constantly tested for its potential in its recurring value, and it needs a canvas to constantly challenge its present position and worth.

There are multiple ways the business model canvas can be explored in exciting new visual ways so as to describe effectively in a common format and capture the wealth of different opportunities.  To invent, to communicate and explore the ‘richness’ within the potential value that is simply laying underneath the different components that make up a business model.

Let’s keep moving the conversation forward on where the business model can work in creative ways within large organizations. Do you have any further ideas?

The Understated Back-End of the Business Model Canvas.

So we all know a standard company balance sheet has three parts: assets, liabilities and ownership equity. The accounting equation states assets and liabilities are known as equity or net worth and this net worth must equal assets minus liabilities. The balance sheet summarizes the present position or last audited position.

Well in the Business model canvas we have the cost side, the back-end, made up of the activities, resources and partnership aspects and a revenue side, the front end, made up of customer segments, channels and customer relationships. It is the ‘net worth’ of all these blocks that makes up their contribution to the Value Proposition.

It is the nine building blocks when put them together tells the complete story, a little like a business model balance sheet. Balancing this out thoughtfully does needs bringing it all together, so as to give others the compelling story and begin to mobilize around and attract the necessary resources.

My question though is this: “is the BMC understated at the back-end today and should we strike a different balance for more established organizations?”

Balancing the BMC BMC model is by Osterwalder & Pigneur. Visual source: Steve Blank

Balancing the BMC
BMC model is by Osterwalder & Pigneur. Visual source: Steve Blank

What happens when one side perhaps gets over emphasised?

Very much the orientation of the business model canvas is presently skewed towards the front end – the market facing part and rightly so. You are in search of a new business model, you will never find it in the building. As Steve Blank rightly stated “you have to get out of the building” to validate your assumptions or hypothesis, to search for the value in the real market place.

The present BMC creative energy focuses are mostly placed on the front end as  many of the emerging tools, methodologies and creative work seek to explain and explore this in novel ways, helping to work out if you do a have a meaningful business emerging or not. You want to test your ideas or concept as soon as possible. As you learn, you pivot, learning what makes sense to customers, what might not, making continuous adjustments to confirm the business idea.

Now we need the same creative energy application channelled to the back-end to draw out the supporting aspects that underpin the new business model.

Today, the BMC is well accepted for start-up’s, for entrepreneurs but still does struggle to gain the real momentum it deserves and can contribute within larger organizations. Why is this?

The back-end and its lack of real attention just might be holding the BMC back for large organizations. Now we need the back-end to have the same ‘explosive’ forces and focus as the front end. Let me explain why:

So for me the understated side of the BMC is the back-end.

Here we are looking to ‘plug in’ the key partners, the key activities and the key resources. If you look at any introduction to the BMC you get these as short explanatory introductions to these three parts

Key Partners – what can partners do better than you at lower cost (and thus leverage your business model)

Key Activities – What activities do you need to perform in your business model and how easily?

Key Resources – What resources does your business model require? These are seen as the assets required offering and delivering the other described elements within the BMC.

Perhaps these are just not deep enough in explanations, even for a starting point for a new business model design. These prompters as they initially stand inadequately address the existing organizations deeper issues in my view.

The ‘drag’ in adoption performance might lie at the back end

The Business model canvas and by extension BM design, struggles with the back-end, this tends to always ‘lag’ as we address ‘breaking opportunity’, especially in established organizations. There is too much invested legacy. This is the ‘drag,’ the anchor weight, that holds bigger businesses back in investing fully in (radical) business model design. We need to open this up, in finding solutions that resolve this back end of the BM canvas.

Originally when Alexander Osterwalder was working through his thesis that ‘spawned’ the BMC, he was talking far more of a multi-layer set of approaches where you had a more defined planning level – the strategic layer, following by the architectural level – the business model layer and then the third level, the implementation level for the process layer. He suggested (at the time) layers were acting like glue between strategy, business and processes. I think he was right. We need to layer and glue.

We need to ‘layer and glue’ at the back-end

The BMC frame does not need to be changed as resources, partners and activities can be a sufficient ‘catch all’. What we need to actually do is raise often the ‘thorny’ issues, of existing structures, conflicts and possible solutions to overcome these.

This time we don’t get out of the building to learn, we ‘work’ the existing building (or organization) to begin to identify and test aspects of your emerging business model across all the internal ‘touch points’.

We are equally looking to discover and validate in our initial explorations , to pivot and stay agile and aware. To ‘flush out’ roadblocks, internal barriers and search for novel solutions. To keep gaining acceptance and recognition.

Here we are exploring existing infrastructure and looking at what would be needed that would be different to support a new business model. To build anew or extend.

I think it is time to let the infrastructure skeleton out of the cupboard.

We have to acknowledge and talk through the fact that big organizations have involved processes, they operate in complex ecosystems that are difficult to navigate, negotiate change with and seeing where you need to pick certain parts of the value system apart to accommodate the new. Perhaps it is easier to ‘start anew’ or spin out the new business as the antibodies can come rushing in to kill anything life threatening.

The other issue is the reputation risk.

Can you accommodate a small, lean and light weight business in its early stages as it tries to sit alongside the big brothers of existing businesses? Many of the larger organizations have thresholds for revenue size that are telephone numbers to even think of creating something even more ‘demanding,’ a new business model.

You struggle everywhere within established organizations to make the necessary changes to adopt new business models, there is so much vested interest. Yet new business models are desperately needed. So lets address  back-end constraints head on?

We need to tackle complexity far more and early on.

Often the complexity within our organizations; the politics, the whole need to convince established positions & overcome legacies will hold most simply back from exploring business models, on a broad, bolder front. They don’t want to acknowledge the necessary holistic fit of all nine building blocks. They attempt to retrofit what they see into the existing back ends, into their known and existing paradigms.

This limits the potential not just of the visionary power of the BMC but the whole design of any new business model. Often new BM’s are squeezed into the existing:  the push through existing channels, sold to existing customer segments, delivered within the existing supply chain, managed through the same resources and invoiced through the existing systems. We compromise, perhaps, the greater potential by not reflecting deep enough on what new BM’s can give us.

There is nothing wrong with leveraging what you have, exploiting existing resources and structures but as you are drawing on what you know (exists) you can stay blind-sided to what it can potentially offer. If you don’t ‘opened up’ your mind and thinking that little bit more you can constrain a new concepts real, sometimes game changing, potential.

We need to ‘ratchet up’ existing visual methods and tools.

This is the exciting place to be, designing new tools and visualization but lets focus fully across the whole Business Model Canvas.  We do need to talk more ‘content,’ more purposeful design at the back-end, if the bigger organization is going to sign up in the way it can, but equally make it creatively applied.

We need to think how architecture and agility can combine; an opening exploration of operations, systems, applications, and of thinking different ways to be agile thus providing a more transition planning approach to underpin the emerging business model’s design.

Alex talks sometimes about a CAD equivalent for business model design in the future. Perhaps he has something there. We need to design the structure, work through modification, analysis and search for optimization no different from the front end. This is why we need the Business Model Design Architect as central to this required repositioning, to manage the complete design of any business model’s new blueprint.

My call here is that we need to broaden the  back-end conversation.

Let’s get the conversation going on the back-end and then unleash the multiple designers within this part, not just the huge community of IT related architects already out there working on many of these internal problems. We need creative design, ingenuity and understanding, all combining in new ways.

We need to step up one big huge level within conversations around Business Model design in existing organizations. We need to seek creative, visually stimulating solutions to the complexity that lies within the four walls of organizations. Let’s address the internal complexity and all learn by openly exploring this. We need to get the tool smiths working on forging the internal BMC foundry, block by block.

To play back to the team designing and orchestrating the BMC, we do need to create better conversation at the back-end of the BMC. We need a new depth in the visual tools needed to capture this side of the canvas.

Otherwise we don’t stay at beginners level Alex, we stay locked into start-ups and entrepreneurial check lists as the use for the business model canvas and that would be such a pity. Addressing the architecture of the back-end is essential.

We need to address the existing organization far, far better in the back-end

Until we address this back-end far more, then I think the BMC will stay considerably  constrained, especially for established organizations. It might simply remain a check list, or as Steve Blank chose to depict it as the Business Model dashboard, or it is only a starting block A4 white board to begin to explore new ideas for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

It might not become the real ‘catalyst’ for exploring new business models as I believe it can be in established organizations. That would be a real shame, if the back-end stays a clear liability on the business model balance sheet. The back-end is hugely different within the established organization and the business model canvas needs to tackle this urgently, in a host of highly creative ways that we have seen so far applied to other parts of the BMC.

The (Re)birth of the Architect for the Business Model Design

Business model both in new designs and it management have become centre stage in many of our existing organizations’ thinking. The need is not just too simply find new growth through new business models but to ‘react and adapt’ those existing business model designs that are in place, to catch-all the emerging possibilities that are around, hopefully before others do. Are we doing a good job of this at present?

BMC- Osterwalder & Pigneur. Visual source: Steve Blank

BMC- Osterwalder & Pigneur. BMC Visual source: Steve Blank

Those without a legacy or are really agile usually are in pole position to explore new opportunities quickly. Also to start with a blank business canvas is exhilarating. It seems we are in the era of the Entrepreneur or are we?

The entrepreneur has a great chance to pioneer, to quickly expand and seize those opportunities to disrupt those occupants serving a known market. The art of discovering the unmet needs of not just existing consumers but attracting in the ones presently outside the focus markets is such a valuable place to attack.

The constraints within the existing organizations

Designing the new business model seems an awful lot easier than if you were involved within the’ poor old’ established organization locked into its structures, systems, existing markets positions battling with satisfying existing shareholders. Just moving those conflict points along within the organization often seems certainly from the outside, in perpetual conflict. There is a real challenge to see things differently and design differently!

The established organization has to combat this increasing threat from all these “usurpers”. There is a strong call for change in existing organizations but there are often complex ecosystems to overcome and the demands for new structures and approaches to resolving these are increasing.

The ever increasing call for more C-EX’s of something

It seems we are continually called upon to add more chief officers in innovation, in information, in knowledge, etc., etc. to address the constant gaps found within existing organizations inability to adapt, focus and design the business. Specialisation is needed but we seem to increasingly lack the function of pulling this all together. The Chief Executive seems to be so out on a limb defending, cajoling, managing and simply reacting to constant crises across their shortening tenure; we are losing the bigger picture perspective when it comes to designing the business to shape it towards the future.

We need to manage the cross-cutting concerns in functionality, in constraints, in unlocking the resources successfully. Yes you could argue this is the role of the Chief Operating Officer but they seem far more focused on squeezing every bit of juice they can find from the existing operations. I hated it when the COO came knocking, you knew it was going to hurt. So who is this person then?

This person, I call the Business Architect who designs and develops the business ecosystem.

This person or function has to hold distinct views of the five essential aspects that impact across the organization. They are seeking out the unique ways for the internal competencies, processes and assets to combine and relate in seizing ‘breaking’ new business model design. They must have a comprehensive overview:

1.       They have the business strategy view and then are capable to break these down into the essential parts to tackle and address the strategic needs. They provide the strands for traceability to make sure these components are being actively worked upon

2.       Check and test the business capabilities and flag where gaps are found, assign the resource and focus to bridge these gaps and set about the building of the lasting capabilities needed to meet the business design needs

3.       Seek out and make sure the flow of business knowledge is occurring by applying a clear absorptive capabilities structure that sets about capturing, facilitating, accelerating and diffusing knowledge for it to flow throughout the organization and to its partners.

4.       Possess the best business operational view or be part of the inner team to support operational structures that cut across functional and organizational boundaries. This includes working the boundaries to extend and push any key design parameters, such as open innovation, platform innovation, collaborative ventures that extend and build on the existing entity.

5.       Have a clear view on the operation- perhaps not the responsible oversight but is able to capture, explain and link roles, capabilities and map these to the challenges being tackled today but designing those that need to be taken forward to build the future in more adaptive designs.

These five aspects have been discussed in numerous Business Architecture papers before and are suggested to provide the integrated view of the organization.

The absolute difference, for me, is not having these buried within the IT department but given the critical centre piece role of being the Chief Business Model Design Architect across the organization with an essential seat within the C-level team. They are responsible for the value configuration, building the necessary capabilities and focusing on the key activities and resources that are needed to implement change for different business models. They are a real change maker.

So we need strong business model design architecture today.

This person and his team design the business logic. It sets about to understand and describe the building blocks of business model design. It is the master of the Business model canvas, it understand the importance of the parts, their interlocking nature and can describe the rationale of how the organization creates, captures and delivers value for today’s business and is constantly exploring the future alternatives and having these designed into the future considerations.

The Business Model Architect designs the different blueprints. They work out offering through all the means necessary the common understanding, facilitate the roadblocks and design constraints so as to align the strategic objectives with the demands placed on the design of the organization. They work the team, they cut across boundaries, they set about ‘creating’ the organizational framework and deliver the “how we do it”, they are the business design translators.

They seek to design constantly what is needed, they look to instigate and demand changing capabilities to increase flexibility, to optimize and to adapt what is in place with what is needed to deliver the opportunities identified for giving new growth.  They map, model and design. They make design more dynamic to adapt to change.

Maybe they are tasked with offsetting  the entrepreneur out there, presently determined to disrupt their business. It is time for exploring all the value points of being the ‘incumbent’ and it needs this holistic business architecture approach.

They have and own the Architecture mandate for the organization for designing the architecture framework necessary for the business model and its design, not just for today but for the future.

The challenge is to provide them with all the tools and immense ingenuity available to them if they can harness it correctly, which I believe they can. ‘Locked’ within the organization is plenty of latent energy wanting to find new ways of working, new designs, structures and processes.

The design of new business models needs a clear focal point within established organizations. The very catalyst is that you need the Architect to orchestrate and completely manage this design process.

Juggling Innovation around Business Model Design

Juggling Innovation image via Michael Grills

Juggling Innovation Is Hard
image via Michael Grills

There seems a lot at present going on around the Business Model and formulating its design. Following on from the Business Design Summit held in Berlin in April of this year there seems to be a gathering of momentum surrounding the Business model.

There is an awful lot of designing going on, actually it is hard to juggle with it all, even for me that has a 100% focus on innovation.

The Business Design Summit had as its primary question: “Are the Business Tools you are using relevant for today’s world?

It went on to ask “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them, instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking”. “Your business ideas deserve better than PowerPoint and Excel”

The momentum is specifically aimed at Business innovation design tools and how to manipulate them and this is giving rise to the ‘school’ of tool-smiths. I wrote about the Business model canvas as set to explode in 2012 and events this year are certainly ‘exploding’ in multiple ways. Let me give some examples:

The Business Model has become even more critical to create and relate too. Rita Gunther McGrath has just released her book “The End of Competitive Advantage- how to keep your strategy as fast as your business”, published by Harvard Business Review Press. Her whole premise is that today “Strategy is Stuck as most leaders are using frameworks that were designed for a different era of business”.

Rita believes “we require a new set of practices based on the transient competitive advantage”.  We are in a time of fast evaporating competitive advantage and we can’t spend months crafting a single strategy, we need to keep exploring and reiterating different initiatives that are more focused, leaner, more defined, more transient in their nature.

This needs more fluid, greater visualization and more customer-centric approaches and modular strategic design approaches.

So what if?

What if you prototyped business models like architects sketch buildings this is one of the main appeals of the business model canvas, outlined in the book: Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, written by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, You can simply do that, sketch out new business ideas or quickly visualize existing businesses and the ‘multiple’ canvases can be used in teams as a sharing tool to structure the thinking.

What if you had a clear method to uncover what customers want to get done? How about a tool and methodology that will help you to Identify and prioritize the jobs-to-be-done? Knowing these is clearly of high value and can lead to rapidly achieving growth segments that tap into this. Jobs-to-be-done is very fertile ground many are exploring including Clayton Christensen, Tony Ulwick and Strategyn, Mark Johnson and Innosight and plenty more. One of the best books outlining a well thought through approach to this JtbD is in Lance Bettencourts book “Service Innovation: how to go from customer needs to breakthrough services”

What if we learnt to talk  always around the Value Proposition, not that difficult part of explaining ‘our’ (boring) business strategy? Recently we have been seeing the emergence of a Value Proposition Canvas from Yves Pigneur, Alex Osterwalder and Alan Smith. This will ‘emerge’ in a book “the Value Proposition Design” due to be published sometime soon. The VP canvas dovetails into the BM canvas. It takes the JtbD concept to achieve a greater fit between the value you intent to create and the expectations your customers have.

Part of the Business model canvas proposition is extending tools to build better models and through www.strategyzer.com this web site (at present) is dedicated to working away at different tools and becoming the official Alpha web-app from the makers of Business Model Generation developing software solutions.

Also expect to see further development through the Business Model Foundry and the Strategyzer Academy that will explore and educate upon all the emerging tools and techniques being ‘crafted’ away at present. I’d recommend joining the Business model hub by the way, another from this growing business enterprise, centred on the Business Model Canvas.

Juggling, juggling and juggling.

Have you thought about “Pruning the product tree?” Luke Hohmann and his company The Innovation Games Company are providing a range of serious but fun games that can produce concepts that shift your thinking. On his ‘pruning the product tree’ the focus is not on ‘cutting’ but ‘shaping’ to arrive at products that your customers desire more and so you eventually  create a ‘new canopy’ of innovating options. They are developing a whole range of innovation games

Within organizations there needs to be greater, richer conversations – those strategic conversations that are more creative, collaborative and working more though adaptive challenges arising more constantly than ever.  Lisa Kay Soloman, who teaches Design Strategy at the California College of Arts is co-authoring a book due out next year “Moment of Impact: how to design strategic conversations that accelerate change”, published by Simon & Schuster.

Have you checked out Dave Gray, founder and CEO of Limini. Dave has authored two books Gamestorming, a practical handbook for innovators and change agents and a second book, the Connected Company, offering a strategic blueprint and roadmap for businesses who want to innovate. He is exploring a “culture map” approach to help teams understand their cultures as well.

I could go on, as there is an awful lot of fresh thinking emerging.  Just take the ‘body of work’ that Steve Blank is producing centred around a methodology for focusing around the customer, take time out to get into his manual “The Startup Owner’s Manual” written with Bob Dorf.  More and more entrepreneurs have discovered Eric Ries and his thoughts on applying continuous innovation in lean ways to create radically successful businesses which are outlined in his book “The Lean Startup”.

One could look towards “Design Thinking” with Tim Brown (CEO Ideo) traditionally leading this charge but take a look at a book written by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie “Designing for Growth: A design thinking toolkit for managers” where they lead you through the ability to turn abstract ideas into practical applications and cover the mind-set, techniques, and vocabulary of design thinking, so helping us to unpack the mysterious connection between design and growth

So we have an awful lot of juggling taking place

Those who have not yet picked up on Gary Hamel’s quest for change through the reinvention of management and his moonshots for management should find the time- it sets the Business scene and future agenda. Then you have Steve Denning who writes about radical management over at Forbes and I’d certainly recommend reading his recent article “The Management Revolution That’s Already Happening” where he is suggesting that today’s organizations represent a failure so deep and pervasive that there are hardly words to describe it.

 A veritable revolution in management and its design is under way.

 Steve Denning argues we are fleshing out a “new management canon” – a huge paradigm shift. He believes we are in a creative economy that generates dramatic reductions in cost, size, and time, and improvements in convenience, of products and services with new systems of infrastructure, new ways of socializing, new meaning as to how time is spent, and new ways of living these possibilities

Those of you not yet ‘plugged in’ then I’d begin, the sooner the better, as there is a whole new way of thinking going on and any movement of this potential magnitude needs supporting and exploring, especially if you share in the belief that much is out of kilter within the business world. There is a ‘certain business revolution in the air’.

Something in the Air by Thunderclap Newman
“Call out the instigators
Because there’s something in the air
We’ve got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here, and you know it’s right
And you know that it’s right

We have got to get it together
We have got to get it together now”

Innovation jobs-to-be-done

I tend to not like offering up checklists as blog posts, you know those one hundred and one ideas for this or that, although I have to admit I like collecting them as a kick-starting resource. Today I decided to change my mind, Why?

Well I think those of us involved in innovation need to keep reminding ourselves to not just work on the days problem that is in front of us but to ‘move along’ all the others, so this is my innovation jobs-to-be-done list that clients and consultants need to work upon. Also these do build towards a possible Chief  Innovation Officer’s agenda and content.

A reminder of what we need to keep tackling and consciously working on. What do you think?

  1. Building innovation capabilities: evaluating and accessing the company’s innovation capabilities, working through the culture, climate and environment that is needed for innovation, removing the barriers to innovation to increase the potential available.
  2. Developing the competencies and capacities to innovate: make innovation everybody’s everyday job; to grow the understanding and organization for innovation and often for the renewal that is needed.
  3. Creating breakthrough strategies: insights and fresh thinking, tools & techniques that enable the creation of new strategic innovation, discovery, exploring white space, extending beyond the existing core to turn thinking into real world solutions.
  4. Developing new business models: exploring different business model design and innovation. Building the business case to accelerate, change and (radically) alter the existing state in greater valued ways.
  5. Finding opportunities for innovation and new growth: create new value, disruptive and radical innovation, disrupting the market to create new growth, identifying and developing new markets and segments, optimizing new products, honing the incremental value, building bigger and better ideas that solve the customer need.
  6. Catalytic thinking: Innovation can be the catalyst to a set of strategic questions and problems, providing a new scope through innovation, shifting perspectives and mindsets, making different connections that lead to growth opportunities.
  7. Knowing the emerging, leading and best practice of innovation: having the latest insights, awareness and understanding of trends and approaches through innovation and what this can possibly bring to existing thinking.
  8. Recognizing innovation lifecycle management: organizing around different platforms, portfolio’s and approaches to enhancing the value of the investments made. Pinpointing, verifying and improving the ‘impact’ innovation can bring to the different stages
  9. Accelerating and bringing change: critically exploring speed-to-market, execution, alignment, stretching and scaling accordingly, more fluid structures, asset utilization, using innovation as the positive change agent/ enabler.
  10. Enhancing the quality of inventive intellectual thinking: leveraging the intellectual assets and the intangibles by enhancing knowledge sharing, transferring and the conversion strategies for improved deliverables and worth.
  11. Strengthening the collaborating effect: through a growing need for greater networking, collaborations and changing relationship management techniques to broaden horizons and possibilities, reducing tensions and accelerating agreement and opening up more informal innovation pathways.
  12. Building innovation resources: access to concepts and theories, tools, templates, techniques and methodologies, research, inspiration, knowledge insights and critically links to related activities that feed off of innovation.
  13. Leading clearly for innovation: insights on the role of top management and how innovation processes can be facilitated, developed and embedded through coaching, championing and facilitating. Turning aspiration into reality.
  14. Management 2.0: is about reinventing innovation management for a new age, management model innovation, and management of innovation activity in general. Building innovation into the very fabric of the organisation.
  15. Long-term innovation:  the ability to embed a ‘sustaining innovation’ mindset, develop the environment for independent thinking and longer-term identification, seeking out tomorrows pathway through a more holistic view, growing more dependency on increased interactivity.

Care to add any I might have missed out, although I must admit this list is long enough as it stands. By the way, they are not in any particular order.

Appropriate Innovation Makes Good Sense.

Innovation should always deliver on a specific purpose or promise, often it simply doesn’t. It needs to be suitable to our needs; it needs to resolve a given job-to-be done.

In the developed world we are consistently over-delivering innovation for many and there is a given cost to that, which we all pay for even though we often don’t really need it in the first place. Take for example, the software provided by Microsoft for its windows application, in its office versions, they all are over specified for our personal needs. The majority of these ‘sit’ on our computers taking up space and never used. This continued requirement which we are forced to constantly upgrade requires us to seek more computing power yet it is really inappropriate for most people’s needs.

Perhaps with cloud computing we can see more ‘stripped down’ versions from Microsoft in the future that reduce the initial purchase price, give us a basic kit to work within and through the use of cloud computing as and when we need additional software, we can go and download it by paying an ‘appropriate’ fee to either use it as a one off or to download it onto our computer. We achieve less clutter on our computer, faster start up and performance times, latest applications and a better way to manage our personal needs in a constantly tailored way, appropriate innovation.

Appropriate innovation is possible to be applied increasingly on many products and services with a different thinking of product or service final delivery. It is actually going on in many ways today but it has not been perhaps focused upon enough, in a way that leads to a transformation to meet the times we live in. These need to be more thrifty, tapping into a market need of more inexpensive alternatives that deliver to people the appropriateness at the involvement level they want or can afford to get the job done .

The internet can play an increasing part in this as it can allow us to tap into what we need when we need it. What needs to happen is this philosophy of appropriateness needs to be adopted by more firms and this ‘mind shift’ might lead to significant growth, adjusting there ability to deliver over specified solutions into ones that simply ‘do the job’- a present problem we need to tackle in developed countries, not just developing countries. We need to draw more people into usage, thus growing markets, extracting greater potential and achieving deeper market penetration.

Appropriate Innovation is not new, in actually comes in a number of well articulated guises already.

Clayton Christensen outlines his thoughts on disruptive innovation and he has written extensively about this approach. He argues by doing a clear jobs-to-be-done analysis you can spot market opportunities, not just for segments of under-served but those that are over- served that are ripe for disruption and new products or services that meet that ‘sweet spot’. We tend to see this more for developing countries but increasingly I would argue we need to apply this thinking to developed markets that are presently bogged down with little growth and market stimulus.

A second aspect of appropriateness has been discussed by Vijay Govindarajan as reverse innovation. He points out the rise from globalization, that organizations are applying reverse innovation by taking products and services developed specifically for the developing world that can become the new oxygen for future growth globally.

He argues “many western multinationals with all their resources, technical superiority, and established global present are being beaten to the punch. In the developing world, local competitors are often at the forefront of economic expansion. They are very different organizations in very different places, in very different industries. yet all are leaving established multinationals in their wakes- not just in emerging markets but also in developed markets.”

He states “that the biggest opportunity for multinationals in the next 25 years is to focus on the vast segment of unserved and underserved in poor countries.” Reverse innovation is not only required to capture growth in emerging markets; it will fuel future growth of multinationals in their home markets. It does this through a more appropriate innovation approach, aligning clear, specific needs and tailoring products and services to meet those. VG defines reverse innovation as very simply, any innovation likely to be adopted first in the developing world whereas a  disruptive innovation has a particular dynamic that endangers incumbents but both have ‘appropriateness’ to meeting need.

Recently the consulting company, A D Little, was discussing the future of innovation management and within one of its five concepts to watch it introduced frugal innovation. It sees new segments, new needs emerging that require a more radical new low cost. This frugality and affordability will alter the mindset of many. Present societies regarded as affluent will need to adapt and reduce down on their current expectations and fit their circumstances accordingly with ‘appropriate’ innovation that serves their specific needs.

Frugal innovation can be interchanged a lot with reverse innovation. Frugal innovation brings about a rethinking of the nature of innovation. Instead of “more” it is often striving for “less”, using clever technology to create greater simplification with a huge potential across many fields of product and service to allow society and individuals greater engagement at an appropriate cost.

There is a huge potential in considering these three concepts

If you take an argument of VG’s that there are three primary situations of 1) income gaps, 2) infrastructure gaps and 3) sustainability gaps and seeing we are increasingly suffering from these in the developed world as well as the developing world, they can really offer rich opportunities to view innovation through new lenses of appropriateness

All three concepts match to appropriate innovation- matching appropriate needs and innovations and aligning them to give a real growth potential.

Barriers and resistance

For all three concepts there is a real need to change the existing mindsets. You must overcome resistance to shifting power and control away from headquarters, from a selected few and they must be willing to reshape the organizational models  to be a more flexible one.You must overcome the initial resistance to prioritizing an investment that does not initially seemingly serve what you think are the interest of your mainstream customers. Each can cannibalise on existing concepts and this is a tough path to travel and break out but there is even more a pressing need to ‘go where the growth is’.

Appropriate Innovation is a real way forward to grow business.

The organizations that learn to shift towards “bottom up” innovation could provide the impetus needed to develop successful innovation-for-development strategies that meet appropriate customer needs. This is the approach to start.

People are often impatient; they don’t want to wait for solutions that are not appropriate they are seeking ones that fit their pocket, fit their needs. To discover these untapped new markets although it is not so clear cut initially is to perform a very precise jobs-to-be-done market analysis to discover these underserved needs.

To meet this need we should create a culture of inventing more convenient, lower- cost, appropriately specified, perhaps more on-demand products and services. In this way we can attract a larger population to tap into a greater market potential of appropriate services and products/.

There are plenty of people  who would be happy to purchase a product with less (but good enough) performance if they could get it at a lower price but where these is still going to be a reasonable margin for the providers. There are increasing ways to deliver ‘stripped down’ versions of nearly everything. We just need to learn what is appropriate, a move to greater simplicity and delivering appropriate innovation to meet given needs.