Do you struggle to innovate?
If you read business books or articles, innovation is a topic you’re probably already thinking about. “Innovate or die!” some say. “We missed a trend,” other leaders lament, as financial results disappoint.
At Harvard Business School, I attended a presentation by Dr. Clayton Christensen – probably the most famous of current HBS professors. Clay is an amazing man: clearly a brilliant mind, but struggling following a stroke, and walking with a cane.
He has a new theory. And he illustrated it by talking about … wait for it … McDonald’s milkshakes!
The theory is this: Most potentially-successful innovations focus on a job that people need to do.
This is much better than just innovating because you can: because you can deliver X or Y service, doesn’t mean that you necessarily SHOULD do so. It’s better to think in terms of what job people (that is, your potential customers) need to do, and how you can help them do it better, cheaper, faster or more pleasantly.
So, what job does a McDonald’s milkshake do – what problem does a McDonald’s milkshake solve?
The research uncovered this: for many people, the milkshakes are helping to make more pleasant the long and boring drive to work!
If you knew that, would it help you market that milkshake?
So, what problem do YOU solve?
Here’s my answer: I help leaders to feel more confident in their decision making. I’m thinking of adding, at the end of that sentence, “and happier.”
For more on Dr. Clayton Christensen’s thinking, here’s a new interview with him, published to promote his new book.