I have always admired the work of Strategyn (www.strategyn.com) and its Outcome-driven innovation philosophy. The founder and CEO of Strategyn, Tony Ulwick wrote a book entitled “What Customers Want” in 2005, published by McGraw-Hill, that laid out his view on the use of outcome-driven innovation and the clear reason you need a focused, disciplined approach to understanding the unmet needs of customers to generate new product and service offerings.
In the intervening years there has been a number of articles that you can find on Strategyn’s website that added to this book but now we have a most timely addition from Lance Bettencourt, who works with Tony, by advancing this work in his book “Service Innovation: How to go from customer needs to breakthrough services”, published by McGraw-Hill.
“Service Innovation: how to go from customer needs to breakthrough services” fills a much needed gap in our understanding of service need from a customer’s perspective by providing a clear well laid out method to discover those often unmet needs and then how to address them in a systematic way.
Have you ever really asked “How do customers define value?” Also “What are customers trying to achieve?” It is those specific needs of the customer and what they are trying to get done in successful outcomes are the essentials for any value creation point. This is where they, the customer, measure success? This is the book to flip around your thinking on where to focus your service thinking, so you begin to see jobs or opportunities to innovate from a clear customer’s perspective, and answer those essential questions customers want answered and why are well covered in great detail within the book. If you want to understand a unifying logic for why customers exchange, and what they value, then it is not to focus on the means but the job they want to get done, but this book tackles more importantly the why. This book is extremely valuable for understanding how to tackle innovation from the customers view, not your own, more myopic company view of value.
Customers accordingly do not buy goods or services, they ‘hire’ products and service offerings which render them the service they need to get the job done well. Understanding this essential point that they are looking for the ideal solution and this creates the value for them, and equally for your own company, by providing it correctly for them. It is the ability to understand this essential ‘hire’ concept that is at the core of this book.
The book is structured between the methodology of discovering jobs that need to be done and the internal design of the understanding and alignment of the strategic options to provide successful services.
The first five chapters of the book break down the discovery of potential service opportunities and one complete chapter is devoted to breaking down each of the specific aspects of service.
Chapter one is the foundation for uncovering different types of service innovation opportunities and goes into the need to get the job done and the equal need of obtaining a satisfactory outcome for each step of the execution of the job. Chapter two explains how you can uncover more jobs that might be satisfied. Chapter three introduces the universal job map that evolves throughout the book. It also covers in this chapter ways to focus on identifying how customers can get specific core jobs simply done better and in this analytical process can reveal natural adjacencies for even more new product and services. Chapter four deals with the often difficult area of what a customer goes through when obtaining a service, and then offers guidance to improve the design of the existing service to achieve a more distinctive innovative and valuable service that would be even more valued. Chapter five shows how to discover opportunities for new and improved services that support core product offerings. This chapter gives a greater understanding of design opportunities that can generate new revenue-generating services to support the product.
The last three chapters (6, 7, & 8) move into the provider’s perspective, outlining the necessary steps a company needs to take in providing the right service expected from the discovery stage. Chapter 6 deals with designing services from the internal customer’s perspective (your employee’s) to prompt you to think over an often neglected step, the elements for providing internally the successful service. Chapter seven outlines a comprehensive model of strategic design options that are available for key differentiation and also seeking breakthrough service concepts through superimposing these on the job maps created to achieve a comprehensive design for a service concept. Chapter eight discusses specific guidance for defining service concepts that will deliver the value customers are seeking, The chapter goes through this systematic process and its complementary insights offered throughout the book, to bring you to the final position that a company wants to occupy with its service: that customers will value and see as differentiated from competitive offerings to become your key offering point.
This is a timely and helpful book about an area that is increasingly becoming the most important generator of wealth in many countries, service. It focuses on the process of service, not service development or the ability of taking concepts to market; it begins the discussion or context of service experience design but leaves that for others to further expand upon.
The book provides the structured way to discover the multiple choices you have to differentiate service, it provides the potential for seeking out breakthrough services and is structured in a way that delivers service concepts and the value equation part that customers are seeking.
The book gives you a predictable, systematic and repeatable approach to work through in significant detail of what needs to be done to ‘resolve’ jobs, needs or unmet needs. It also provides those looking at Business Model Innovation or disruptive points a methodology that will not just help in the discovery of opportunities but in a way to work it thoroughly through for new value propositions.
Finally, my only criticism is there is a five-year time gap between Tony Ulwick’s initial book and this one. It has been too long for me to really understand and appreciate the way Strategyn went about this jobs-to-be-done concept in a comprehensive manner and this book helps to achieve that more detailed understanding of Service Innovation.
Service Innovation: How to go from customer needs to breakthrough services is a book I recommend is valuable reading for anyone interested in innovating not just service and products but their business from the perspective of the customer, not your own.
By Paul Hobcraft, Contributing & Review editor.