When, in designing a solution, we prefer our own criteria to those that matter to our target group, we have a problem. But how can we effectively avoid it? Follow the instructions offered by a book called Service Innovation.
Most of the discussions on the creation of innovations revolve around two topics: How to have the most ideas and how to choose the best ones and turn them into reality.
However, we hardly ever talk about what direction to even take to look for solutions. As a result, we create ideas, and in the worst case even products, that offer a great solution to a problem. The trick is that it might be a problem nobody has.
Where does the innovation nobody wants come from? People buy services and products because they want to achieve a goal of fulfill a task (job-to-be-done). We see the doctor, to feel better again. We make phone calls to stay in touch with people or to solve a problem. We get insurance to avoid unexpected expenses.
For each task we also – consciously or not – create a set of criteria that help us evaluate whether the goal was fulfilled. If we go back to the doctor exemple – people waiting to be examined might want to cut short the time spent in the waiting room. Or they want to minimise the probability of receiving a wrong or unfavorable diagnosis. Each one of us will have a different set of criteria of various levels of importance. For some it might be more important to chat with other people in the waiting room while others will want to avoid waiting altogether.
So what is the problem? When in designing solutions we favor the criteria we personally consider important but are irrelevant to our target group.
One way to think about the criteria is to make sure that the desired outcome (maximize or minimize) and a unit of measure (time, probability, quantity…) are included in their description.
It does not make sense to try to find a solution to a criteria that is undeniably important but people are satisfied with the current solution. If we go back again to the doctor’s example we could ask: “How important is that you will not have to wait to be examined?”. The respondents could answer from “extremely important” to “not important at all”.
Similarly we would then follow with questions about current solutions: “How satisfied are you with current possibilities to minimize the examination waiting time?”. The respondent can then choose an answer ranging from “extremely satisfied” to “not satisfied at all”. It is best to work with a five-point scale.
We have a list of criteria and percentage of people who picked different answers on two five-point scale answer sheets. The opportunity for different criteria is counted the following way:
Opportunity = 2 x (% of people answering „extremely important“ + „rather important“) – (% of people answering „extremely satisfied“ + „rather satisfied“)
Let’s imagine, that 70% of respondents would consider one of the criterias “Extremely important” or “rather important”. Just 20% of them would the be “extremely satisfied” or “rather satisfied” with current solutions. The innovation opportunity for such criteria would be 120 points.
Then it is quite easy. You just have to sort the criteria by the opportunity and focus on those with the highest score. It generally applies that if the opportunity is higher than 100 points, you can assume that the potential solution will generate a sufficient interest on the market. Assuming of course that the new solution will truly meet the given criteria in the eyes of the consumers.
Do you have experience in innovation potential evaluation? Get in touch!
Lance A. Bettencourt: Service Innovation
All described methods are from the above-mentioned book.
Author’s note: Both the title and the subtitle (“How to go from customer needs to breakthrough services”) promise a lot. However, do not count on help with idea implementation. The book is solely focusing on how to uncover customer needs and which ones to choose when designing solutions.