What Customers Want: Using Outcome-Driven Innovation to Create Breakthrough Products and Services Hardcover – Sep 6 2005
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From the Back Cover
From the Back Cover
"Ulwick's outcome-driven programs bring discipline and predictability to the often random process of innovation."
--Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator's Solution
"We are institutionalizing across the entire company desired outcomes as the essential form of customer input we collect in research, and we've seen the powerful results it's had in our product development, marketing, and sales groups."
--Jeff Baker, Senior Market Research Manager, Corporate Market Research, Microsoft
"Outcome-driven thinking made it possible for us to hit a home run in the mature and competitive circular saw market. The Bosch CS20 is a breakthrough innovation and a hit with both users and our channel partners."
--Jason Schickerling, Product Manager, Bosch CS20
"Being outcome-driven enabled us to grow our market share in the angioplasty balloon market from less than 1 percent to over 20 percent and to create the stent, which became a billion-dollar business in less than two years."
--Rick Faleschini, Vice President of Marketing, Johnson & Johnson
"This approach enabled us to devise breakthrough Web-based service solutions and to make valued operational process changes. Knowing where to focus our creativity made all the difference in the world."
--Paul Zarookian, Executive Vice President, Financing Division, A. I. Imperial
"This methodology was used to create the PRO7150 and the TalkAbout--two of our best-selling radio products to date. It was also used to build a valuable patent portfolio in the fuel cell market without making a large investment in technology."
--Dr. Robert Pennisi, Director, Advanced Product Technology Center, Motorola
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Let me try to explain how Ulwick frames his thinking. Generally speaking, innovation is the process of finding solutions that address the customer's unmet needs. Most companies agree that they should first uncover and prioritize the customer's unmet needs and then devise solutions that address them - but, as Ulwick explains very well, although companies think they understand this concept, they continue to get it so very wrong - to the point where their customer-driven, "voice of the customer" led efforts are causing the failures they are trying to avoid!
This book makes it clear that because companies are focused on customers and products (and not the job the customer is trying to get done), they are simply getting the wrong inputs into innovation, and incredibly, they don't know it. In my experience, this is exactly right. Ulwick contends that to truly succeed at innovation companies must understand just what a customer "need" is. Ulwick's notion that different innovation strategies require different customer inputs (needs) was an epiphany for me.
In his books and articles on innovation, Clayton Christensen mentions the jobs-to-be-done theory, but Ulwick turns this theory into a science by making the job the customer is trying to get done - not the customer or competition - the focal point of innovation. Ulwick provides ample evidence that the customers desired outcomes are the building blocks of innovation - the customers' measures of value - but they are rarely the company's focus of capture when using traditional "voice of the customer" techniques. In fact, Ulwick suggests that companies should "silence the literal voice of the customer", an argument that I now understand and agree with. His argument that there is no such thing as a latent, unarticulated need is also quite compelling.
Rarely does a book offer such new insight and theory along with practical ideas for execution and implementation. I have since read other articles on their web site (strategyn.com) and have become a fan. This sounds like the future of innovation to me.
For the more experienced reader: As a businessperson, I was disappointed in this book. At first I was carried away; Ulwick is a good writer. I was so excited, I restared the book and took notes. That is when I realized that this is essentially a marketing tool for his company. Ulwich doesn't give insight into how to find the "50-150" criteria he mentions beyond saying that good marketing researchers are important. Furthermore his comments about customer-driven innovation are incorrect. While I agree with him that many companies behave as he describes, this is because, as with other business tools/concepts, customer-driven innovation is misunderstand and misused. Most of what he talks about is identical to what I tell employees during training. What I got out of this book was a handful of sentences about focusing on the job your customer needs done, the constraints and the criteria by which customers will measure your "solution".
Answer: To get their job done? (Whatever the job may be, such as to regain energy in their bodies, or to be entertained).
In his series on innovation, Clayton Christensen touches upon the Jobs-to-be-done theory. Ulwick dives into it by showing us that what customers really want is desired outcomes.
Customers are strange creatures. On one hand they openly say what they want and then turn around and do exactly the opposite. The reasons for this is that customers often are not able to articulate what they want - except in the form of desired outcomes.
Stop spinning your wheels. If you're serious about creating something new and innovative, then you need to study this book to learn how to find out what customers really want.
Venture Capitalists, Angels, and almost every serious investor in the world wants to see two things in every venture: 1) Customers who love the product because it satisfies a burning need, and 2) Business Models that capture a significant amount of value created.
Customers are by far the most important aspect of any successful venture, yet time and time again attention is not paid to proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that a given product gives customers what they want.
Ulwick says that "... most companies come up with ideas and solutions and then test them with customers to see if they will buy - without ever knowing how customers measure value." From my personal experience I know that Ulwick is dead on. Most entrepreneurs and business professionals understand very little about what customers truly consider value. Instead they heap on the features - hoping to shotgun their way to hitting that one aspect customers want.
If you're serious about creating a successful enterprise, then you need to read this book. And, if you are just too hard pressed for time, at least read his article in Strategy & Innovation titled "Do You Really Know What Your Customers Are Trying to Get Done?" (Harvard Business Online).
Michael Davis, Editor - Byvation
"Business Success through Innovation"
In 'What Customers Want,' Anthony Ulwick offers a rigorous, comprehensive methodology for doing just that. The underlying principles in the book, which were introduced by Ulwick in the Harvard Business Review, each receive thorough treatment. In clear language, Ulwick explains the big picture behind his outcome-driven method. He capably explains in minute detail how to put the method to work.
As the title suggests, Ulwick's outcome-driven method is as much about marketing as it is about innovation proper. Yes, it is about research and development, but it is also about branding. It may just be that the ultimate brand message follows a simple pattern: "We offer you exactly what you want--in fact what you can't do without--with no superfluous bells and whistles, for a very reasonable price." This book shows you how to arrive at a point where you and your company can confidently make such a statement.
The outcome-driven approach to innovation rests on common-sense tenets that have been supported by fairly rigorous research. These principles include:
-Customers have a hard time articulating what it is they want. With skilled guidance, however, they are very good articulating what they want to get done.
-As humans, we can't help but measure how successfully we were able to complete a task, even mundane ones like shaving or cutting a board. We unconsciously do this measuring using between 50 and 150 different criteria. These criteria are the "outcomes" we want to result from the task. It is possible for skilled interviewers to help customers articulate these outcomes.
-The responsibility and freedom to develop new features should belong to your experts, not your customers.
-Your experts deserve two vital pieces of information: (1) a list of exactly what tasks your customers are trying to get done, and (2) a list of the 50-150 outcomes customers use to measure how well a product or service helps them complete those tasks. Armed with that information, your experts can engage in focused, productive brainstorming and ultimately deliver a breakthrough product or service that is full of value.
-A product or service has maximum value when it is free of unneeded features and empowers customers to complete a task 100% successfully.
This book takes you from the beginning of an innovation initiative all the way to its measurably successful completion. Each step includes specific, actionable guidance. Attention is also devoted to segmenting markets within an "outcome-driven" paradigm.
In 'What Customers Want,' Ulwick does not just write about his experiential knowledge; he explains a complete method. As methods go, this is a solid one that results in greater customer satisfaction and increased return on investment.
What is more, it is an energizing read. To follow through with Ulwicks methods is embark on an adventure that is exciting yet prudent. I have seen the results in my company, and I have no qualms over speculating that the outcome-driven approach is the future of innovation.
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