Tony Ulwick, Innovation Expert

Tony Ulwick

Changing the way the world innovates

Tony Ulwick is the pioneer of jobs-to-be-done theory, the inventor of the Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) process, and the founder of the strategy and innovation consulting firm Strategyn.
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Innovation Expert

Since Theodore Levitt’s Marketing Myopia article appeared in Harvard Business Review, the notion that people buy products and services to help them execute a task or to get a job done, has become widely accepted. As the “jobs-to-be-done” theory has gone mainstream, companies have searched for the best way to apply it in practice. Since 1991, innovation expert Tony Ulwick has been at the forefront of transforming jobs-to-be-done theory into practice. The practices he invented have helped hundreds of companies launch new products with a success rate that that is five times the industry average.

Tony’s first major success came in 1994 when he helped Cordis Corporation (now a J&J company) reinvent its line of angioplasty balloon products. By understanding the job that interventional cardiologists were trying to get done (restore blood flow in an artery), he discovered a number of hidden growth opportunities and conducted a series of strategy sessions to help Cordis create a new product line. In less than 18 months, Cordis launched 19 new products, all of which became number 1 or 2 in the market. Cordis’ market share increased from 1 percent to more than 20 percent, and its stock price more than quadrupled. This success, and the process he used to achieve it, was showcased in Tony’s 2002 Harvard Business Review article Turn Customer Input into Innovation launching his career as an innovation expert.

Inspired by Cordis’ success, Tony continued the refinement of his practices, ultimately resulting in the creation of a powerful innovation process he called Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI). Since 1995, he has successfully applied ODI in hundreds of companies, over 30 industries (B2B and B2C), and with upstream component part manufacturers. Since 1999, he has been awarded 10 patents for his practices. Clayton Christensen cited Tony and Strategyn as the originator of these practices in his 2003 book, The Innovator’s Solution, where he popularized the idea that people “hire” products to get a “job” done. Our implementation of what has since been called jobs-to-be-done theory was the subject of Tony’s bestseller What Customers Want (McGraw Hill, 2005). In addition, Ulwick introduced HBR readers to “job mapping” in his 2008 article The Customer-Centered Innovation Map. He has also published articles in other leading publications.

As the leading product strategy innovation expert, Tony can help you address your most complex innovation challenges. Contact us to learn more.

Author and Speaker

Tony Ulwick is the author of the best-selling book What Customers Want and has published articles in the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review. His work is cited in hundreds of publications. Clayton Christensen says, “Ulwick’s outcome-driven programs bring discipline and predictability to the often random process of innovation.” His counter intuitive views as an innovation expert and thought leader have changed the way academics and executives alike think about growth, strategy, and innovation.

In 2002, Harvard Business Review recognized ODI as one of the best business ideas of the year, declaring it one of “the ideas that will profoundly affect business as we forge ahead in today’s complex times.” In his book The Innovator’s Solution, Clayton Christensen devoted a chapter to the “jobs-to-be-done” innovation theory, citing Ulwick’s work and the ODI process.

If you are interested in having the world’s leading product innovation expert speak at a company event, an executive gathering or an innovation conference, please contact us to learn more. Here is a sampling of Tony’s publications:

What Customers Want

McGraw Hill — June 15, 2005
In his best-selling book What Customers Want, innovation expert, Tony Ulwick explains how the jobs-to-be-done innovation theory is transformed into practice with his Outcome-Driven Innovation process. This book provides a new framework and process for innovation and growth.

Turn Customer Input Into Innovation

Harvard Business Review — January 1, 2002
In his first HBR article, innovation expert Tony Ulwick describes the foundational elements of his innovation process and describes how it was used by Cordis Corporation, a division of J&J, to create a new line of angioplasty balloons that increased their market share from 1% to over 20%.

The Customer-Centered Innovation Map

Harvard Business Review — May 1, 2008
Sure, people hire products and services to get a job done. While all this seems obvious, very few companies use this perspective to discover new opportunities for growth. This article describes the job map, an efficient system that companies can use to find new ways to grow.

Giving Customers A Fair Hearing

MIT Sloan Management Review — May 1, 2008
In over 95% of all companies, there is a lack of agreement on what a customer need even is. It’s no wonder that companies almost never know all their customer’s needs. In this article, innovation expert Tony Ulwick introduces a timeless definition of what a need is, what its content, format and syntax should be – and why.

Entrepreneur and Inventor

Tony is the founder of Strategyn, a strategy and innovation consulting firm that helps Fortune 100 companies drive growth through innovation. He is also co-founder of Strategyn Ventures, a corporate venturing firm, that helps Fortune 100 companies discover and enter new markets.

As a product innovation expert, Tony has been granted ten patents for his ODI methodology, which improves the innovation success rate by a factor of five. He also holds patents on other inventions that resulted from the application of his innovation process.

Commercial investment analysis

United States Patent
Issued:
Inventors:
8,214,244
July 3, 2012
Tony Ulwick, Jay Haynes

This patent introduces a market sizing and product pricing methodology that is based on how much customers are willing to pay to get a job done perfectly.

 

Process for strategy optimization and innovation

United States Patent
Issued:
Inventors:
7,340,409
March 4, 2008
Tony Ulwick

This patent introduces methods for incorporating multiple customers into the process of value creation. This may include users, buyers, installers and so on.

 

Process and system for outcome-based mass customization

United States Patent
Issued:
Inventors:
6,085,165
July 4, 2000
Tony Ulwick

This patent introduces a method for the mass customization of products and services based on how a customer uniquely struggles to get a job done.

 

Computer based process for strategy evaluation and optimization

United States Patent
Issued:
Inventors:
6,115,691
September 5, 2000
Tony Ulwick


This patent introduces advanced methods for uncovering market opportunities and creating new product and services concepts and evaluating their market potential.

 

Computer based process for strategy evaluation and optimization

United States Patent
Issued:
Inventors:
5,963,910
October 5, 1999
Tony Ulwick

This patent introduces a method for building a product concept around the metrics that customers use to measure the successful execution of the job-to-be-done.