Blog Category: Awkward Realities

Don’t count on your R&D people being brighter than competitors’.

24-Research-and-Development

Will you win because your R&D people are 20% smarter than the competition’s? If that logic sounds shaky, here’s a suggestion: What if your R&D worked only on problems customers truly cared about… while competitors kept guessing what to work on? Would that be a competitive advantage? This is easier than you think… but maybe you’d rather try to hire geniuses.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 4)

You don’t know what you don’t know.

23-What-You-Dont-Know

When developing a product, you know what you know (facts)… what you think (hypotheses)… and what you don’t know (gaps). But breakthroughs usually come from what you didn’t know you didn’t know. Only your customers know this, so you must let them guide you. This provides the spark of innovation, which seldom occurs with old-fashioned supplier-led interviews.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 3)

Interview B2B customers in a way that allows—even invites—surprise.

22-Business-Surprise

We’ve coached hundreds of B2B new product teams and here’s the awkward reality: When teams begin using advanced methods to interview customers, they are usually surprised by what customers want. This means the teams had been planning on developing a product that interested them, not customers. This is a sobering experience. Have you had it yet?

More in article, The Cost Cutter’s Guide to Growth (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter)

You can’t achieve profitable, sustainable growth behaving like your competitors.

21-Competitive-Behavior

Unless your company has smarter employees, some inherent unassailable advantage, or a markedly different approach to satisfying customers… pesky competitors will always limit your growth. What if you and your competitors were all committing the same innovation errors… but you corrected them first? Good news: There is much to correct.

More in article, Seven Mistakes that Stunt Organic Growth

Boost your new product launch by knowing what your ad agency does and does not “own.”

20-Advertising-Agency

A proper product launch defines who to tell, what to tell and how to tell. You own who and what to tell, while your ad agency or PR firm should focus on how to tell. Hand them a strong Prospect Profile and Message Brief for “who and what.” Otherwise, they’ll waste your money guessing.

More in article, Stop Squandering Your Product Launch Budget (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter)

Closely examine B2B innovation malpractice, and you’ll see a pervasive disregard for customer needs.

19-Customer-Disregard-1

It’s ironic: B2B customers have the only vote on whether our new product is any good. B2B customers want us to innovate on their behalf. B2B customers are eminently qualified to guide us. Yet many suppliers all but ignore B2B customers when developing their product concepts. Today, this is a global pandemic.

More in article, Is Your Innovation Supplier-Centric… or Customer-Centric? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter)

Innovation is the last frontier left for us to settle.

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The average company only has a 25% success rate after it finishes its front-end work. With Six Sigma success, you’ve got three defects per million attempts… while your new product development is stuck at three defects per four attempts. Can you think of any other area in your company with this level of waste? Don’t let your competitors tame this frontier first.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 3)

Do you use Voice of Customer (VOC)… or Voice of Ourselves (VOO)?

17-Voice-of-Ourselves-1

Companies like to talk about the voice-of-the-customer, but most just listen to themselves as they create “conference room” products. The team gathers internally to decide for the customer what they’ll want in a new product. This team will always lose to the team that immerses itself in the customer experience, and designs a product to improve that experience.

More in article, Why Advanced VOC Matters (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter)

Imagine if doctors diagnosed patients the way many companies interview customers.

16-Diagnostics

Imagine your doctor entered the exam room, saying, “I’ll ask some routine questions to validate my hunch… so I can start treatment.” Would he be your doctor for long? Wouldn’t you rather have a doctor who listens first and asks intelligent questions? Your customers feel the same way, so leave your hypothesis in the waiting room and start engaging them.

More in executive briefing, Seven Mistakes that Stunt Organic Growth

Your innovation needs two types of metrics: “New Product Success” and “Learning Success.”

14-Success-Metrics

New Product Success is a metric for current projects. Learning Success—which measures skill-building progress—is a metric for future projects. Most companies just consider New Product Success. Worse, they only look at ultimate metrics, e.g. sales. If they also used intermediate metrics, they’d have enough time to apply what they learned from these metrics.

More in article, 3 Problems with Innovation Metrics(Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter)

When analytical and discovery thinking compete in NPD processes, expect the former to dominate.

13-Analysis

Analysis looks for what has been done wrong; discovery for what could be done right. Failing to discover opportunities is a costly error. Paradoxically, it is most often forgiven. In fact, if your team fails to develop a blockbuster because it missed a critical customer need, no one will even notice. At least not until a competitor does a better job.

More in executive briefing, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?

Fixate on the only source of unlimited potential, not sources of diminishing return.

12-Diminishing-Returns

Unlike innovation, quality and productivity apply to current operations and yield diminishing returns. What do you do after you reach zero defects… or your factory is being run by the proverbial “man and a dog”? (The man feeds the dog; the dog bites the man if he touches the controls.) Customer-facing innovation is different. There is no limit. Just look at Apple Computer.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 2)

Don’t expect your stage-and-gate process to do what it was never designed to do.

11-Square-Peg

It was designed to manage the interface between project teams and your company… for portfolio analysis, resource planning, risk reduction, tracking, etc. Fine, but you also need to improve the interface between teams and customers. Competitive advantage in customer-facing innovation requires skills and tools your competitors lack.

Learn more about B2B innovation at www.theaiminstitute.com