How to Explore 4 Business Growth Options through Innovation?

4 directions of innovation

In the world of business, where the sea is vast and the fish are plenty, finding the right direction for growth can be as challenging as sailing in uncharted waters. To help companies navigate these waters, Anthony Ulwick crafted a compass of sorts—a customer-jobs matrix. It gives four business growth options through innovation, in the light of customers’ jobs-to-be-done.

Customers-Jobs Matrix

1. Get a Job Done Better

Think of something you use almost every day. Your phone, maybe? It does its job, sure, but couldn’t it be a bit faster, easier to use, or maybe even cheaper? Over 80% of the time, businesses are working just on this: making their existing products or services do their jobs better for the people already using them. It’s like finding a shortcut on your way home that saves time and lets you avoid traffic. By understanding exactly what people wish was better about what they’re already using, companies can make those products more appealing. For example, making phones with longer battery life or adding more intuitive features. This is about perfecting what already exists.

2. Get More Jobs Done

Now, imagine that same phone. Besides calling and texting, you discover it can help you organize your day, pay your bills, even monitor your health. Suddenly, it’s not just a phone; it’s a personal assistant. This is about seeing beyond the obvious use of a product and uncovering all the other things it can do for you. Companies that excel here listen closely to what else you’re trying to achieve and adapt their products to help with those tasks too. It’s like realizing the pen you’ve been using to write notes could also be a stylus for your tablet.

Now, consider a Swiss Army knife. It’s not just a knife; it’s a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, a can opener, and more. This is the essence of getting more jobs done. Companies, through understanding their customers deeply, can add features or services that address more of their needs. This strategy is about broadening the utility of a product or service, making it indispensable.

swiss army knife

3. Help New Customers Do a Job That Others Are Already Doing

Imagine there’s a group of people who’ve always wanted to take photographs but found cameras too complicated or expensive. Then, a company designs a camera just for them, simple and affordable. This creates a whole new group of photographers. This path is about reaching out to those who’ve been left out, making it possible for them to do what others have been doing all along. It’s finding the folks who’ve been watching from the sidelines and inviting them into the game.

Imagine there’s a group of people who’ve never been able to enjoy the convenience of making copies at home because copiers are too complex or expensive. Then, a company introduces a user-friendly, affordable copier designed for home use. Suddenly, what was out of reach is now accessible. This approach is about identifying barriers that keep potential customers away and removing them. It’s how Canon opened up the home copier market and LifeScan made blood-glucose monitoring accessible at home. This strategy is about inclusivity, bringing in those who were previously excluded.

4. Help New Customers Do a Job Nobody Is Doing Yet

Picture a world before smartphones. People didn’t know they needed them because they didn’t exist. Then, smartphones were introduced, and they addressed needs people didn’t even know they had, from navigating unknown streets to streaming videos anywhere. This is about innovation at its core—creating entirely new markets by offering solutions to problems that aren’t yet acknowledged or are being solved in a makeshift way. It’s the realm of groundbreaking inventions like the phonograph, telephone, and television.

Think about something no one’s even thought to do yet, or if they have, they’ve had to patch together their own solutions. This is about inventing entirely new products or services, creating a market that didn’t exist before. Like the first person who thought to put a camera on a phone. It’s not just about solving known problems but imagining new possibilities and bringing them to life.

Innovation isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a quest to make life better, easier, more enjoyable. Whether it’s by improving what already exists, finding new uses for it, reaching out to those who’ve been overlooked, or creating something entirely new, the essence of innovation is about serving needs—both the ones we know about and the ones we haven’t discovered yet. As we gather around our metaphorical campfire, let’s remind ourselves that at the heart of all growth, all change, and all innovation, is the simple act of looking at the world and asking, “How can we do this better?”