Jul 24

Create a platform for your future product innovation

When setting out to deliver new breakthrough product offerings to your market, I have found that a key first step is to construct a picture of your current business, market and offer. By taking stock of your current situation in a multi-dimensional way you can set an innovation context to help you target future opportunities in a more effective way.  

When I work with my clients to create market breakthrough products, because I’m often new to their business and I need to get up to speed quickly, I run through a discussion guide covering all aspects of the innovation space available to their business in future. Of course, depending on the client business I will tailor the questions to suit but the overall structure for my interview is broadly shown in this diagram:

 

My first area of focus is around Business Direction, Processes and Value Model. The key areas I probe here are:

Values, Culture and Leadership:

  • What principles form the basis for behaviours within the organisation and, more specifically, what are the key criteria which provide the basis for prioritisation decisions? I will probe this area by referring to specific examples from the company’s innovation history.
  • Where does the key drive for innovation come from within the organisation? For example, is innovation initiated most commonly in sales, manufacturing or R&D?
  • What is the attitude to risk? Is decision making based on gaining consensus or through personal accountability?
  • How engaged is senior management in innovation activity?
  • What type of innovation mindset does senior management have? E.g. when they say they want a “break-though” do they really mean it?
  • How does the business Mission Statement relate to this innovation challenge?

 Business Processes, Financials, Business Model and Network: 

  • What product development process does the company operate?
  • What processes does the company follow to build its capabilities? E.g. recruitment, research, manufacturing, commercial, marketing and sales.
  • What processes does the company follow to generate revenues?
  • What other partners operate in the value chain and what are their financial investment and rewards?
  • Who are the key partners and suppliers?
  • How is the organisation funded?
  • What is the attitude to capital spending and valuation of assets? I probe around tangible assets and intangible assets (e.g. IP)

My second area of focus is the Market:

Market structure:

  • Who does the client sell their product or service to?
  • Who uses the product?
  • What does the market landscape look like? How does the client segment their market?
  • What is the geographic scope of the current market?
  • Who are the other stakeholders in the success of the product or service?

Category and brand values:

  • How does the client define their market category?
  • What does the client think the key considerations are for this category?
  • What does the client’s brand mean to consumers or customers in the category?
  • Given the current brand and category, how open to new products or services might the current consumer base be?
  • How are consumers and customers using the client’s product or service? What are the key consumer or customer problems that the product solves?
  • What are the underlying consumer or customer insights that form the basis for the product or service?

My final area of questioning is around the current Offering and Competitors:

Technologies, performance, value and context:

  • What technologies and capabilities are key to the client’s current competitive position?
  • Which areas of product or service performance are currently most important to consumers and customers?
  • What is the current pricing structure?
  • Are there critical considerations which might limit innovation such as surrounding infrastructure and large capital investments either by the client or their partners?

 The competition: 

  • Who is the main competitor?
  • Which competitor has the best-in-class performance?
  • Is there a key limitation which all products in the category suffer from?
  • Is there any competitor IP or other prior art which might limit future innovation?┬á

I’ve found this discussion guide to provide a very effective foundation for innovation. Due to the broad scope of the format, it brings out a comprehensive picture of the total innovation territory. It has often sparked some very useful discussion and has even generated fresh insights for the client.

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. andar909 August 11th, 2008 12:56 am

    hi, andar here, i just read your post. i like very much. agree to you, sir.

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