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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Creativity and Business Model Innovation (part 1)

Business model innovation and the search for a scalable business model has been a hot topic over the last couple of years with the explosion of lean startups, customer discovery, and business model generation. But where is the actual innovation in all of this? I am seeing a lot of trial and error but not so much thoughtful creativity as entrepreneurs continuously pivot and validate until they strike business model gold. It might be agile but is it innovative?

Over the next week I’ll be looking at how structured creativity can help put the innovation back into business model innovation. If you want to know how Six Thinking Hats, the five whys, SCAMPER, random word generation or the hall of fame can help to uncover more innovative business models, then this series is for you. Let’s start by looking at how the TERMS Star can help develop more creative value propositions.

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Wait, You Sell What?

In the movie 40 Year Old Virgin there is a great scene where a customer (played by Jonah Hill) walks into an eBay store to buy a pair of thigh length boots with goldfish in the soles. Confused? So was he. The store owner (played by Catherine Keener) tries to explain that they are an eBay store, so the goods are for display only…if you want to buy them you have to go on eBay. From what I recall the dialogue continues a bit like this:

  • Customer: “what? I just wanna buy these boots. You’re making this really hard for me”
  • Shop Owner: ” yeah. I get that a lot. Sorry”

There are two main problems here, besides keeping goldfish in the soles of your shoes.

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Building your Value Proposition

The business model canvas provides a great tool for working through your business model, but it says little about timing and prioritisation. When should you develop your resources model for instance, before or after your customer segments? Ash Maurya and others start out by looking at the value proposition and taking it from there.

In this great post by Alex Osterwalder, we are introduced to some tools for developing your value proposition in more detail. It is quite a detailed post, and certainly worth reading through when you have the time., but I thought I would summarise the key points here.

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