The Function, the “Job To Be Done”, Not the Product!

Jack Hipple

Jack Hipple is Principal Consultant, Innovation-TRIZ, in Tampa, FL. He is a chemical engineering graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. His 30 year industrial career included responsibility for corporate chemical engineering R&D at Dow Chemical as well as its New Ventures Discovery Research program, Program Manager with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, New Product and more


Companies that manufacture and sell a product or system do it for only one reason---a customer needs to accomplish a goal or provide a function or service that cannot be accomplished in another way which is cheaper, better, or faster. The amount they pay for this product is affected by costs of alternative ways of accomplishing the function. Over a long period of time, the seller or provider can become wedded to the product and not its function. But the customer never forgets that the function is what is needed, and frequently the supplier is surprised when a market for a product or service disappears without warning. This talk will review this basic tenet of product development, function, and how aspects of the TRIZ (“Inventive Problem Solving”) process can assist in product development strategy to stay ahead of this ongoing business challenge. In particular, the TRIZ 9-Box and Cube Analysis, coupled with examples from several industries will be provided to stimulate thinking about this basic tenet of product development---function vs. product or service.

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