Innovation is the process of developing and commercializing products and services to satisfy unmet customer needs. Like any process, there are steps that must be satisfied to increase the chance that the end result is what is expected.
For the purpose of systematically devising innovative solutions, we have identified three sets of questions that must be sufficiently explored and answered in succession to ensure a viable commercial product or service is created.
Who is the customer and what are they trying to achieve?
What jobs are customers trying to get done in a specific setting or when using a specific product or service? For example, a skier skiing down a mountain may want to stay warm, hydrate and energize their body, and find their way around the mountain.
How do customers measure success in getting those jobs done? What are the key needs that drive satisfaction?
Why are customers having a problem getting a job done?
Are existing products or services technically not able to help the customer get the job done? In other words, are they not able to satisfy the customers’ measures of success?
Do existing products or services work well, but just not in the context in which the customer wants to get the job done? For example, one may easily be able to stay hydrated while working in the office, but find it much more challenging to do so when going on a long hike.
Are the products or services difficult to consume and, therefore, not utilized by the customer? For example, are they challenging to buy, learn how to use, use, or store? In consumer electronics, Apple has demonstrated that creating easily consumable products can lead to tremendous market success.
What solution can be brought to bear on the problem?
What bundle of product or service features will help the customer get the job done in the context in which they are trying to get it done?
What business model will allow the company to create and capture value?
What is unique or differentiated about the solution that will allow it to stand out in the minds of the target customer?