Frequently Asked Questions

Q:What is innovation?
A common definition of innovation is introducing something new or coming up with the next big idea. We define innovation as the act of generating more value for the customer and the business by fulfilling a Job to be Done (JTBD) better than anyone else. When you do this, you will grow and win market share. You will prove that you are a truly ambidextrous organization, and that you have a firm grasp on an actionable definition of innovation that can guide you through the process of generating and refining ideas, then bringing those ideas to the marketplace.
Q: Platitudes aside, how does one actually innovate?
Over years of study and work with clients, we have developed an innovation model that integrates all the best thinking and practice. Often we call the model a tale of two cultures, because the nature of figuring out what you will do tomorrow (innovation) is different than the nature of achieving greatness in what you do today (operational excellence). The introduction of The Innovator’s Toolkit goes a long way in showing how this works—how a company can be ambidextrous in this regard. Also, the first four techniques in the book bring even more clarity, focus and answers to the question of how any company can innovate much more regularly and predictably.
Q: Indeed innovation is about organic growth. Please elaborate.
There are four organic growth strategies a company can take. 1) Core growth is the act of meeting unmet outcome expectations associated with a JTBD. 2) Related job growth entails bundling solutions that achieve the outcome expectations of more than one main or related JTBD. 3) New jobs growth is expanding the solution space to accomplish different JTBDs. 4) Disruptive growth focuses on making what was formerly accessible to only certain classes of people accessible to all. You won’t really know what we mean here until you read this Jobs to be Done technique excerpt.
Q: Who in organizations and companies innovates?
We think our answer is unconventional—not just to be this way but because it’s simply based on the truth about why many teams fail when they try to innovate. Many fail because they don’t understand that certain people should have certain roles at different stages in the innovation process. Therefore, it’s far more important to staff an innovation effort or organization with people who have the right mix of thinking styles (not just highly creative people or really smart people with high intelligence quotients). The who of innovation will become very clear if you give the Cognitive Style technique a good study.
Q: How do innovation techniques fit with quality tools?
We include both in The Innovator’s Toolkit, because both are necessary to successfully shepherd the formulation of a new idea all the way through its development, refinement, design and feasibility to perform as intended in the marketplace. This gets at the inherent quandary of an ambidextrous organization addressed by our innovation model: two modes are needed to ensure ongoing business success over long cycles. More importantly, the two modes (or cultures) need to be tightly coordinated and actively managed. An excerpt of the book’s introduction does a good job of providing more details about how this works.
Q: How is this book different than other innovation and creativity books on the market?
Many books on innovation fall into one of two categories: creativity enhancing books that aim to increase the output of ideation sessions, and strategic innovation books that contain high-level frameworks and success stories, but not specific road maps or tools. The Innovator's Toolkit is the only book that fuses all of this together. Without such a fusion, the innovator (or reader) gains only tool knowledge but not contextual intelligence (or vice versa).