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Two Pathways to Innovation: Better Meeting an Existing Job To Be Done

Innovation is the act of generating more value for the customer and business by fulfilling a Job To Be Done (JTBD) better than anyone else. A Job To Be Done (a problem to be solved) is the purpose for which customers buy, use or, we prefer to say hire, products and solutions.

There are two pathways to pursue innovation. In this entry, I’ll illustrate the first pathway, and then I’ll illustrate the second pathway in my next blog entry.

The first pathway is about a JTBD that, currently, isn’t accomplished very well relative to what would delight customers.

Not too many years ago, sellers and buyers of used goods would engage in trade via garage sales, flea markets and classified ads in the local newspaper. This is how they got their job done, and they did it with a certain extent of satisfaction. Maybe it was good enough for everyone at the time. Folks got together and conducted their transactions in a certain amount of time, with a certain level of ease, and they could agree on a price that was acceptable to both trading parties.

But eBay and other online trading portals changed the expectations and offered a better alternative to both sellers and buyers. The JTBD was the same. But the new model and innovation enables sellers to expand their market from the garage to the globe; likewise, buyers can choose from inventory all over the world, not just the local sphere. As well, the new system is more efficient in terms of using the digital platform to show merchandise, track the bidding, qualify legitimate sellers and buyers and conduct credit card transactions.

There may be more desired outcome expectations that improved as digital trading continues to eclipse options with a heavier person-to-person component. There may even be some drawbacks related to shipping, as this process adds opportunity space for error, whereas the old model minimized or avoided the need to engage in the shipping function altogether.

Craigslist is an interesting and, in hindsight, predictable evolution of how the new technologies that made eBay possible also enable local sales to be conducted in a way that brings new ideas to life, and that brings more value to buyers and sellers (customers and providers) in the local used good trading world.

For instance, even though the trades are local, Craigslist allows sellers to simply photograph their items and post them on the portal. This removes the burden of physically bringing their items to some location, even if that means just bringing them outside of the garage (a task that can be burdensome, especially if rain decides to participate).

In any case, this mini discussion was meant to simply illustrate one pathway to innovation: accomplishing the same JTBD by providing a better solution customers can hire in terms of their outcome expectations. Another pathway exists, discovering a new JTBD, and I’ll cover it in my next blog.