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 Power of Questions

In Questioning for Creativity, I introduced the story of the NASA space pen. The story goes like this. A group of smart NASA scientists decide they need to decide a pen that works in zero gravity (have you ever tried writing with the pen pointing up?). They design a gazillion dollar space pen that works just about anywhere, including outer space. Meanwhile, the Russians decide to use pencils. The story is engaging and funny, and it teaches us to make sure we are asking the right question before we jump in and start coming up with ideas. It is also an urban myth. NASA did use pencils, but found them to be flammable with heads that break off and float dangerously around the cabin. The lesson here, get your facts straight. Not only do you need to ask the right question, you also need to know your stuff.