Using Five Whys to find Customer Jobs

EinsteinIf I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it (Albert Einstein)

Making sure you are solving the right problem is THE most important part of business model innovation. In terms of developing your value proposition, this means spending time discovering which jobs matter most to your customers, before you go looking for solutions that will offer effective pain relief and gain generation. This post is part 3 of my series on using creative thinking techniques to put the innovation back into business model innovation. In today’s post, I’ll be looking at how the Five Whys technique can be used to get to the heart of the problem your business model is trying to solve.

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The Five Whys

Five Whys Explained

The 5 Whys method was originally developed by Toyota Corporation as a core part of their Toyota Production System. The basic concept is that you ask why repeatedly until you get to the single root cause for a problem, typically a missing or broken process or some human behaviour that can be changed for the better. This example illustrates Jeff Bezos using 5 Whys to understand why an amazon worker had hurt themselves on the production line, reproduced below:

Why did the associate damage his thumb? Because his thumb got caught in the conveyor.

Why did his thumb get caught in the conveyor? Because he was chasing his bag, which was on a running conveyor.

Why did he chase his bag? Because he placed his bag on the conveyor, but it then turned-on by surprise

Why was his bag on the conveyor? Because he used the conveyor as a table

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