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Outcome Driven Innovation Pt. 1 – Faster Horses

Outcome Driven Innovation Pt. 1 – Faster Horses

In the first of a two-part blog series, Chris from our engineering team will take a deep dive into product development and lift out some of the concepts and processes that go into developing a great software product that successfully meets the needs to the real-world users.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Henry Ford

In a recent podcast interview, Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger discussed the ‘Jobs to be Done Framework’ and how they had used it to drive product innovation at Instagram. The interview is reminiscent of Clay Christenson’s anecdote about the McDonalds milkshake problem.

Clay Christensen is perhaps one of the most widely quoted thinkers in relation to product innovation, particularly within the Start-up and Tech Sector. His book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” has featured on the recommended reading lists of several major technology innovators, including Steve Jobs, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and former Intel CEO Andy Grove.

The concept of the ‘Jobs to be Done Framework’ has been around for some time. Although initially developed by Tony Ulwick, CEO at Strategyn (who’s work we will revisit in the second blog of this series), the popularity of the theory can be largely attributed to Clay, who encapsulated the concept in two simple sentences:

“When we buy a product, we essentially ‘hire’ something to get a job done. If it does the job well, when we are confronted with the same job, we hire that same product again. And if the product does a crummy job, we ‘fire’ it and look around for something else we might hire to solve the problem.”

Why we choose Jobs to be Done

YCombinator co-founder, Paul Graham lists “having no specific user in mind” as one of the 18 mistakes that kill start-ups. It is an all-to-common occurrence; product development teams brainstorm product ideas or features that add value beyond what the user is trying to achieve when in reality, they should be seeking to identify what specific outcome the user is trying to achieve and looking for improvements and innovations, applicable to the user’s current process.

Misunderstanding the objectives of a user can often occur as a result of new technologies and disruptive market trends. For example, following the success of Uber, a number of new start-ups began proclaiming themselves to be the “Uber of X”. In 2018, “Blockchain” became the technology buzzword of choice. In 2019, an article from Forbes estimated that as many as 92% blockchain projects and businesses had failed, with an average lifespan of just over 1.2 years.

While these technologies and trends are appropriate in some instances, their prevalence serves to illustrate a salutary lesson – when companies react to and develop products based on market trends, they often get it wrong; when they react to the specific needs of the consumer, all-too-often they get it right.

At Analytics Engines, using a ‘Jobs to be Done Framework’ enables us to create and develop product roadmaps that place the needs of the user at the centre of the solution. That means we can clearly distinguish between what the users actually purchase and what the users actually want.


Ford’s seminal “Faster Horses” anecdote perfectly encompasses the spirit of outcome-driven innovation and the “Job to be Done Framework”. Despite passing away nearly 50 years before any formal development of the theory, Ford understood that addressing the objectives of the user were at the centre of good product design.

In the second blog post of this series, we’ll look at the ‘Job to be Done Framework’ in more detail and create a basic example that enables us to create a user story, that could potentially be passed to a software developer, in order to develop a solution.

To find out more about Analytics Engines and how our approach helps us respond to the unique specific needs of our customers, contact us using the form below.

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by PJ Kirk

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