How does an ‘ideas first approach to innovation compare to the job-to-be-done theory? In what ways does it differ?

How does an ‘ideas first approach to innovation compare to the job-to-be-done theory? In what ways does it differ? How does an ‘ideas first approach to innovation compare to the job-to-be-done theory? In what ways does it differ?

1 Expert Answer

Tony Ulwick

Founder & CEO,  Strategyn

An ideas-first approach limits our understanding of customer wants and desires. We may have an idea of what the customer wants, but the concept is often poorly fleshed out.


The primary flaw in leading from ‘ideas-first’ is reliance on trial and error. Instead of tackling the customer problem first, which would allow teams to more robustly and concisely approach development, the ‘ideas-first’ approach is often riddled with modifications to the approach as it is happening.


Essentially, the innovation and development processes become intertwined, which is highly inefficient.


The jobs-to-be-done theory extracts this uncertainty and instead focuses on the outcome, or on the ‘job’ the customer is trying to achieve.


Answers by Strategyn

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