Innovation may never be a perfect science, but we have the ability to make innovation a reliable engine for growth, an engine based on a clear understanding of causality, rather than simply casting seeds in the hopes of one day harvesting some fruit, according to Clayton Christensen, Karen Dillon, Taddy Hall and David Duncan in their book Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice.
The book describes “Jobs Theory”, which provides a powerful way of understanding the causal mechanism of customer behaviour. Customers don’t just randomly buy products; they “hire” a product for a particular reason, because they have a job to be done which the product is best suited to perform. Jobs theory suggests that successful innovation includes the following elements:
So does the book provide a sure-fire way to ensure your innovation is a success? Not necessarily. The authors have made a persuasive case about the importance of identifying a clear job that a new product will do before investing in developing that product, but you might still have to invest a lot of effort in letting customers know how your product can solve their “job to be done”.