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Innovation as Defense: Harnessing the Power of JTBD in a VUCA World


Startups are often the source of disruption because they are more agile, focused on customer needs, willing to take risks, and have access to capital. These advantages allow startups to challenge incumbents and drive innovation in established markets. Let's take for example financial services market in Romania, where leading banks like Banca Translivania (BT) and ING Bank fail to deliver relevant mobile apps for internet banking. Just comparing ING Business and BT mobile apps we can easily see their low ratings in Appstore, 1.6 and 2.5 respectively, as compare to Revolut's 4.9.


In today's volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) market environment, established incumbents face new challenges and opportunities. However, they can regain their edge by adapting proactively to changes in consumer behavior, such as the shift brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ukraine war, high inflation, and energy crisis.


With my background as a business consultant and my experience in strategy formulation and as co-founder of a proptech startup (Feexers), I have delved into the study of consumer behavior before, during, and after the pandemic. My findings show that there has been a permanent shift in behavior. A vast majority of consumers, 93%, now express a preference for a "one-stop shop" concept and nearly 75% would rather buy items directly from an app than physically visit a retailer. This trend coincides with a significant change in consumer behavior brought on by the pandemic, leading to substantial growth in the food delivery market in Romania, with a yearly increase in the triple digits.

(You can also find some qualitative insights about Romanians in the context of the pandemic in this link: https://www.the-network.ro/single-post/de-ce-nu-ne-vaccin%C4%83m)


This change in behavior highlights the importance of innovation for businesses to meet evolving customer needs and preferences. However, many established incumbents may struggle with outdated business models and a lack of customer-centered innovation. To improve the predictability of innovation, the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) theory may prove to be a valuable approach.


The JTBD theory was first introduced by Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor and author, and has been further developed and popularized by Tony Ulwick, Bob Moesta, and Steve Klepper, who have applied the JTBD principles in product development and marketing. I have gained new insights as a certified in fundamentals of JTBD and Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI), which challenges traditional approaches to innovation strategy.


Through my experience with Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI) and Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD), which emphasizes comprehending the needs and motivations of customers, I discovered that the conventional 'idea-centered' innovation process can be challenged and made more predictable and successful. By incorporating ‘need-first’ approach, companies can move away from the 'fail fast' mentality and adopt a more effective strategy in their industry.

Adopting a proactive approach and innovating is crucial for established incumbents to defend their positions in the market. The Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) theory can be a valuable tool in making innovation more predictable and customer-centric. By using the theory's principles, incumbents can adapt their products and services to the new normal and stay ahead of the competition. I believe that the adage 'attack is the best form of defense' holds true in this case, as innovation can be seen as a form of attack on the challenges posed by the changing market.

Regarding the information mentioned above, do you have knowledge of the effectiveness of your innovations?

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