Innovating with predictable success and profitability requires identifying an important, unsatisfied job that customers are struggling to get done. Beneath this simplicity is a robust framework that helps you bring clarity in searching for innovation opportunities. The five Cs of opportunity identification are Context, Circumstance, Criteria, Constraints, and Compensating behaviors.

1. Context: Getting clarity around the customer’s behavior and mindset when encountering a problem will help you nail their job to be done.

2. Circumstance: The set of possible solutions customers look for is very different depending on their circumstances. For example, if a customer is in a rush but is looking to indulge himself, he may consume a tasty snack like a Reese’s bar. However, if he has spare time and wants to indulge himself, he may watch a movie. To feel invigorated, he might opt for an energy drink instead of a Reese's bar. Creating a simple matrix like the one below can help you visualize opportunities for innovation.

3. Constraints: Find barriers preventing consumption. Using the acronym WASTE helps you remember the possible constraints to help your consumers overcome: Wealth, Access, Skills, Time and Established behavior/habits.

4. Compensating behaviors: A simple way to determine if your hypothesized job is a problem worth solving is if your customers are already spending time solving the problem with workarounds. These are great opportunities for innovation as customers are stitching together their own, sometimes inadequate, solutions to address pain points.

5. Criteria: The level of quality you want to aim for depends on the criteria that matters to your target customer. For example, with Airbnb, it’s less about having fancy hotel facilities, but perhaps more about local experiences – Airbnb recognizes these tradeoffs, but decides to make them because it allows them to innovate in areas where competitors (like traditional hotel chains) may not be performing as well.

Want to learn more about discovering opportunities for innovation? Dive into the Discover Sprint.