What’s the Next Big Thing in Innovation Management?

big thingA colleague of mine, Robert Brands of Brands & Company (1), recently posed a question. He asked, “…so what do you think is the next big thing in innovation management?” For instance, there are concepts such as “blue ocean strategy”, “open innovation”, “lean start-up strategy” and even “big data” that have occupied much of the innovation management press. Countless books and articles tout the latest “best practice”. What will be next, Robert asked?  Continue reading

Innovate Your Innovation Process

innovateAre you a small to mid-sized (SME) manufacturing company with a singular focus on understanding your customer needs, providing superior products to meet those needs and growing your revenue and earnings? It goes without saying that for every company, these goals should and do consume significant management bandwidth. The problem is that most organizations become too inwardly focused (1). They do not consider what might be happening outside their company, and even beyond their industry, and leverage that knowledge to create new customer value. This has driven the popularity of the concept of “open innovation”. Maybe we should extend the concept of open innovation to other important aspects of a business such as the innovation management process. Why not, in other words, “innovate your innovation process” by learning from others? Continue reading

Assessing Your New Product Development (NPD) Process

continuous learningFor anyone responsible for managing a new product development (NPD) process, continually assessing your process and learning from other’s experiences is a must. These whitepapers available at no charge cover a wide range of topics including the role of management in NPD success, metrics, project definition, portfolio management and online tools, project risk, among others.   Continue reading

U.S. Debt, China and Innovation

What does the U.S. debt, the Chinese economy and innovation have in common? More than you think.

Among all the other political stories in the U.S. that consume the media’s attention and many Americans, not much was heard recently about two disturbing trends that will impact the long-term economic well-being of every American household. Continue reading

Practical Tools for Project Portfolio Management

Portfolio2For any size business that undertakes multiple simultaneous projects, the ability to manage the project portfolio is a constant struggle (1).  In particular, the portfolio over time tends to move to a higher state of disorder akin to the concept of entropy (2). Think about what happens at most companies, large and small: over time, more projects get started before existing projects are complete. Engineers are expected to work on not just one or two projects, which is ideal, but now must multi-task across multiple projects. On top of that, important customers demand new software features or enhancements to existing products, further diluting the focus on current projects. Statements like “every project seems to be late, never early”, “we always underestimate project cycle time” and “we constantly pull team members from a project to fix high priority customer requests” are common, especially in small to mid-sized firms. There are simply too many projects for too few resources, and the system grinds to halt.  Continue reading

Fostering a Culture of New Product Innovation: A Bottom’s Up Perspective-Part III

GrassrootsInnovation is the process that links technology to a market need and results in a product or service of value. But what are the key elements that need to be in place for a company to be innovative? That’s not a simple answer. Every industry, technology, and company is different so what works for one, may not work for another. Every senior manager responsible for their firm’s financial performance and concerned about long-term growth, whether a CEO, president, or owner, wants their organization to be innovative, but what does that really mean?  Continue reading

Fostering a Culture of New Product Innovation: A Bottom’s Up Perspective-Part II

GrassrootsInnovation is the process that links technology to a market need and results in a product or service of value. But what are the key elements that need to be in place for a company to be innovative? That’s not a simple answer. Every industry, technology, and company is different so what works for one, may not work for another. Every senior manager responsible for their firm’s financial performance and concerned about long-term growth, whether a CEO, president, or owner, wants their organization to be innovative, but what does that really mean? Continue reading

Fostering a Culture of New Product Innovation: A Bottom’s Up Perspective-Part I

GrassrootsInnovation is the process that links technology to a market need and results in a product or service of value. But what are the key elements that need to be in place for a company to be innovative? That’s not a simple answer. Every industry, technology, and company is different so what works for one, may not work for another. Every senior manager responsible for their firm’s financial performance and concerned about long-term growth, whether a CEO, president, or owner, wants their organization to be innovative, but what does that really mean? Continue reading

The Role of Product Definition in Innovation Success-Part I

A key determinate of innovation success is a robust process for choosing and defining new products. This is part of the “fuzzy front end” and sets the stage for successful innovation. I have written extensively about the concept of the portfolio process (1), but in this two-part article I will focus on the role of a solid product definition in innovation success. Continue reading

How Project Risk Impacts Project Management in New Product Development (NPD)

Project RiskAn important aspect for driving success in new product development and by extension, long-term firm performance, is to maintain a balanced project portfolio (1). In other words, every organization needs to maintain a mix of different types of projects. From a technology standpoint, this would include for example new products which are extensions of existing technologies, products that exist currently in the market but are new to that firm, and finally more radical, new-to-the-world products. Overlaid on top of the pure technology considerations, other factors come into play. For instance, the nature of the market adds another dimension. Maybe the product will be introduced into a market that is very well understood by the firm. This might be especially true of a product extension. In the case of a product that is based on technology that is new to the firm, but is being supplied by a competitor for instance, the firm may or may not be familiar with those customers. Finally for a radical, new-to-the world product, it is more likely to be sold to a new customer base, or there may be little knowledge on exactly how the product will be used by customers once introduced. Continue reading