Blog Category: Innovation

Are you working on a system with diminishing returns or increasing returns?

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Keep working harder and smarter, but recognize you’ll move the needle less and less in a system of diminishing returns… like wringing out the last bit of productivity or quality. But when you focus on understanding customer needs better than competitors, your insights and new product innovations—and resulting revenue—will keep coming. Increasing returns. A wonderful system to work hard and smart at.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave.

Take these 5 steps to de-risk your big, scary project.

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It’s easy to take the anxiety out of high-stakes projects: 1. Brainstorm all assumptions that must be true for your project to succeed. 2. Have each team member vote on “certainty” & “impact” for each assumption. 3. Debate & consolidate votes as a team. 4. Develop a plan to investigate high-impact, low-certainty assumptions. 5. Drive each assumption from uncertainty to certainty. If an assumption is not true, it’s a project-killing “landmine.” Find it early, celebrate… and start your next project.

To see how this is done, view the video at Project De-risking with Minesweeper

Real business leadership is learned, not bestowed.

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We call our bosses “leaders” out of respect for their organizational position. But have they learned how to drive B2B organic growth? In fairness, we provide training to the rank and file so they can develop new skills… but we expect our busy leaders will somehow “pick up” what’s needed. We’ve compiled 30 lessons for business leaders in the e- book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth. You can even sign up to receive a 2-minute weekly video lesson for 30 weeks… an executive short-course in leading growth.

More in article, B2B Organic Growth: 8 top lessons for leaders

How much time should you spend in the front end of innovation?

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Years ago, a study by APQC found the most successful teams invest 20+% of their total new-product work in the front-end… while most teams spend 10% or less here. Roughly speaking, a Market Case requires about 3 person-months of effort, while a full Business Case needs about 6 person-months. So if you “do the math” for 20% in the front-end, you should require a Market Case for projects needing 1 person-year of development, and a Business Case for those needing 2+ years.

More in article, Business Case Excellence: The 12 Key Components

Apply the FAQS approach to your high-stakes project.

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If your big project is successful, it will be because the assumptions it rested on were true. But when you start your project, you don’t know what is and is not true. Think of 4 factors in descending certainty: 1) Facts (we know what we know.) 2) Assumptions (we know what we think.) 3) Questions (we know what we don’t know.) 4) Surprises (we don’t know what we don’t know.) To “de-risk” your project, lay these out at the beginning of your project… and then drive each from uncertainty to certainty.

To see how this is done, view the video at Project De-risking with Minesweeper

What drives B2B organic growth more than anything else?

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In our research, B2B professionals rated a strong value proposition as the #1 most important driver of profitable, sustainable organic growth. But what makes it strong? Certainly not the supplier’s opinion. A value proposition is only strong if it addresses outcome(s) important and unsatisfied to the customer. This is the part that most B2B new-product teams bungle. They guess, hope, or hypothesize which outcomes customers want. Big mistake. Without unbiased, unfiltered data, most teams are led astray by their confirmation bias.

More in video, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth series, Video Lesson #19

Should NPD teams draft a Market Case or a Business Case?

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For years we’ve advised new product development teams to write a Business Case… to request moving their project into the development stage. But now we often suggest they use a simpler Market Case for their smaller projects. The Business Case has 12 sections while the Market Case has but 6. But the Market Case has the most important section… “Value Proposition”… in which solid evidence of customer needs is presented (usually in the form of Market Satisfaction Gaps).

Download Sample Market Case (after Step 3)

Are you trying to win a 5000-meter race… while Wall Street only cheers this lap?

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Imagine you’re a long-distance runner and some spectators in the stands have side-bets on how you’ll do this lap. Would you pay attention to them? Would you increase your pace just to make them happy… and lose the race as a result? This is precisely what you do when you pursue quarterly results “at all costs.” Remember, Wall Street analysts don’t give a fig about your company’s long-term well-being. That’s your job.

More in article, B2B Organic Growth: Moving to earned growth