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

The Senior Business Leader as a “Super Product Manager”: The Right Role?

SuperheroA high level of senior management engagement is absolutely critical to the long-term success of any company’s new product development (NPD) and innovation success. A recent article on the role of Jeff Bezos during the development of the Fire Phone (1) led to a question: Can and should the senior manager in a business function as what might be termed a “super product manager”?  By my definition, a “super product manager” drives the process to define what products or services get developed, but is also responsible for the company’s short and long-term financial success and to whom everyone else ultimately reports to functionally. These are two very different roles, and the question addressed in this article is whether this level of engagement in NPD is actually detrimental to a company’s long-term success.  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

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

ObamaCare Website: An Example of How Not to Manage Innovation

ObamaCareUnless you are completely disconnected from the world, you are undoubtedly aware of the issues associated with the rollout of the website for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare. My interest in this article is to explore how this “product introduction” illustrates many of the common pitfalls companies face in managing innovation. Continue reading

New Product Success Rate: Why So Low?

In a recent survey (1), only about 61% of all products launched by existing companies turn out to be successful in the market. When you investigate further, however, you will find that the “best” companies have much higher success rates of around 82% vs. 59% for the “rest”. In this case, the “best” were defined as the most successful or in the top third in their industry for new product development (NPD) success, being above the mean for their new product program success, and being above the mean for sales and profit success from NPD. Why such a significant difference? What differentiates the “best” from the “rest?” Continue reading

What You Can Learn About Innovation From Unrelated Industries

For manufacturers of highly engineered products common in the B2B industrial world, innovation in industries such as retail, entertainment, and even the transportation industry might seem completely unrelated. You might be surprised. The innovations happening in these fast-moving industries can serve as important lessons for anyone responsible for new product development (NPD) regardless of whether you are in the service or the manufacturing sector. Continue reading

Are Companies Becoming More Risk Averse in New Product Development (NPD) Decisions?

This is an important question to consider for any company engaged in new product development. Every project is unique. Product extensions tend to be lower risk while radical, new-to-the-market products are usually higher risk. While lower risk projects are easier to manage, higher risk projects might provide a much more significant payoff if successful. In today’s economy with fierce global competition, a focus on only lower-risk projects might not be the best decision for long-term company success. Continue reading

The Product Manager and New Product Development (NPD) Success

Product ManagerA key organizational role in the new product development (NPD) process is commonly referred to as a product manager. There are many definitions of this role, depending on the size of the company and the type of technology. Here we will focus on the position in the context of small to mid-sized firms who manufacture highly engineered products. In some organizations, a product manager may have P&L responsibility, but for the purposes of this discussion, it is assumed they do not. Continue reading