This is part 2 in a 3-part interview with Jeff Baker, head of customer insights, category management and strategy at Valvoline and a former client of mine.
There are very few executives in the country who have the depth of experience with what’s known as the “jobs-to-be-done” (JTBD) innovation approach as Baker. He has been using the approach for nearly 15 years through his various roles at Microsoft, Strategyn, NetJets and now Valvoline. I asked him to share his perceptions of this new approach, which we outlined in this previous post: One Executive’s Perceptions of the Jobs-to-be-Done Innovation Approach.
This week, Jeff discusses how he uses the JTBD approach in his current work at Valvoline.
I recently had an opportunity to interview Jeff Baker, head of customer insights, category management and strategy at Valvoline, and a former client of mine (Microsoft and NetJets).
There are very few executives in the country who have the depth of experience with the job-to-be-done (JTBD) innovation approach as Baker. He has completed over 100 JTBD projects in the past 15 years through various roles at Microsoft, Strategyn, NetJets, and now Valvoline. I asked him to share his perceptions of the approach.
A quick overview of the JTBD innovation approach
The jobs-to-be-done innovation approach is a highly effective method for discovering customers’ unmet needs in a form that is ideal for driving innovation …
I am proud to report that my adopted hometown of Columbus, Ohio, is on a roll.
About a year ago, Columbus beat 77 cities to win $40 million in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. Other finalists included Austin, Dallas, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland and San Francisco. Columbus then went on to win another $10 million from Vulcan Inc., Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen’s company, to cut emissions through the adoption of electric vehicles. On top of all that, thanks to Columbus’ especially strong public-private partnership, the private sector has raised more than $100 million in additional money for related efforts.
This is a great time for Columbus.
The team responsible for …
In his book, Lead With a Story, Paul Smith tells about Jayson Zoller’s experience as a student at the University of Central Florida 20 years ago.
One of Jayson’s favorite professors often arranged research projects for the class with community leaders. In one such case, the professor described an unusual project working for a chief district judge. The assignment: to investigate the jury deliberation process and determine how to improve it.
As young idealistic college students, Jayson and his classmates were thrilled to tackle such a noble mission.
The team interviewed dozens of judges, attorneys, former jurors and other court officials around the district. They asked all the questions you would think a smart …
On April 6th, The Wall Street Journal reported that a fintech startup called Trov (“fintech” refers to any technology innovation in the financial services industry) had raised $45 million to bring on-demand services to the property and casualty insurance market.
Trov is an interesting case of how digital technology is disrupting traditional insurance markets. Unlike traditional homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, which provides blanket coverage, Trov enables customers to insure individual items “with the swipe of a credit card” and without talking to anyone.
At this time, Trov insures only consumer electronics and photography equipment, but they intend “to cover jewelry, sporting goods and …
There’s a simple way for leaders to obtain the customer information they need for innovation, but it’s not big data.
In my last article, I argued that big data underperforms at innovation because it does not reveal causality, i.e., why people buy. Even “predictive” analytics does not reveal why people buy an offering, only the probability of them buying it. Leaders don’t need more data and correlations; they need actionable insights that explain why people buy.
Companies can gain actionable insights with the “jobs to be done” innovation approach. This approach is based on marketing fundamentals and the observation that people buy products and services to get functional, emotional and social jobs (or tasks) …
The American Market Association recently estimated that companies will spend approximately $92 billion on big data by 2026. But is big data delivering the return on investment in innovation that leaders want?
Forrester reports that only “29 percent of firms are successful at connecting analytics to action.” Although companies are gaining more information about their customers than ever before, actionable insights that can drive innovation remain elusive. Evidently, companies are overfed on data but undernourished with actionable insights. Why? Because big data reveals correlations, not causality.
The data being captured is the wrong data for innovation. Up until now, data analytics has not been able to determine why customers …
Many readers may be familiar with the 2005 global best-selling book “Blue Ocean Strategy” by professors Renee Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim. In the book, they introduced the concepts of red and blue ocean markets, which are still helpful today for leaders operating in competitive markets.
Yet, while the concepts of red and blue ocean markets remain relevant, a new, better method for creating blue ocean markets (i.e., uncontested market space that renders the competition irrelevant) has emerged with the “jobs-to-be-done” approach to innovation. Hence, the ability for companies to create their own blue ocean market space has increased dramatically. Before I explain how, let’s do a quick refresher on the concepts …
We know from study after study that the key to successful growth is having a clear understanding of customers’ unmet needs.
Yet many leaders struggle with how to innovate, differentiate and grow because they don’t know where their target customers’ needs remain unmet. Without this information, it’s very hard to create new offerings that matter, or brand messaging and positioning that connects. Instead, leaders resort to guessing about what will create value for customers and, not surprisingly, this leads to high failure rates, frustration, wasted resources and damaged reputation.
All of this is unnecessary, but very common for companies today.
Many top branding firms follow a common practice to help clients differentiate their brands for growth: …
Many people believe that the most innovative companies create customer needs with breakthrough new products.
Nobody knew they needed an iPhone, the thinking goes, until Apple created the need for it. Hence, if you want to be an innovation leader, you should find ways to create customer needs.
Although this may sound reasonable, it is a common misbelief based on confusing customer needs with solutions. Great innovators do not create customer needs; they discover existing important unsatisfied needs, and then create solutions that address those needs dramatically better than any other competitive option.
For the purposes of innovation, the best definition of a customer “need” is a “task to be done.” Many readers are …