Blog Category: Product Development

Your company’s strongest products were once fragile innovations in the making.

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The wise business leader treats innovation as a seedling to be sheltered from distractions, treated with care, and prized as the very lifeblood of their company’s future. Shortsighted leaders see innovation activities as costs to be endured or manipulated for this quarter’s financial report. They chase away your best innovators, brightest ideas, and future growth. Be careful: The person you allow to lead today will determine the strength of your business tomorrow.

More in video, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth series, Video#30

Good B2B VOC is an exercise in humility.

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It’s different for consumer goods innovators, who can often observe end-consumers and then come up with clever solutions. But B2B innovators must approach their customers with hat in hand and humbly ask, “Can you help me understand your world?” Remarkably few do this. Just as remarkably, B2B customers love it when they do. The customer becomes the teacher, the supplier the student… and both are rewarded with market-changing innovation.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs

You don’t need bigger missiles. You need a better targeting system.

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For artillery, archery or cancer treatment, you 1) scan the terrain, 2) detect the high-value targets, and 3) then commence firing. If you have weak reconnaissance, faulty satellite imagery or a blindfolded archer, it doesn’t matter how good your payload is: You won’t be successful. In NPD, this means 1) diverge to all possible customer outcomes, 2) find which are important and unsatisfied, and 3) develop your solution. Most B2B companies need to improve #1 and #2. A lot.

More in video, New Product Blueprinting—the Future of B2B Innovation

Here’s what’s important to growth-seeking companies.

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Our research into the views of B2B professionals regarding organic growth revealed: The #1 driver of profitable, sustainable growth is strong value propositions. The #1 differentiator between strong and weak value providers is front-end work. The #1 most desired area to improve is market insight. See a pattern? Today’s key to growth isn’t an improved stage-and-gate process or hiring more R&D staff. It’s understanding customer needs better than competitors.

More in article, Market Satisfaction Gaps… your key to B2B organic growth

In business there are no dominoes you can tip without causing others to tip

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Tipping the first domino is a first-order action, the second tipped domino is the second-order effect, and so on. Strangely, if the first order action feels satisfying all by itself, you’re probably headed for trouble with subsequent effects. So it might feel good to slash spending to hit this quarter’s numbers… but your future growth will be stymied. In fact, your slow growth today is probably the culmination of many first-order actions you’ve long since forgotten.

More in article, Stop Stifling B2B Organic Growth with 2nd Order Effects

 

Why don’t business leaders emulate the business leaders they admire?

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Who do you admire as a great business leader? Steve Jobs? Henry Ford? Jeff Bezos? And why? Because they were good at financial reviews and quarterly investor calls? Of course not. They impressed you because they marched to a different beat and transformed their companies… and even whole industries. So let’s spend less time pleasing Wall Street analysts and behave like the great business leaders we admire… and could ourselves become.

More in video, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth series, Video Lesson #30

Is your business engaging in trench warfare?

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This is also known as “attrition warfare,” and is characterized by competitors applying the same tactics. It’s also characterized by everyone losing, even the winners. Keep your productivity and quality initiatives… but understand that by themselves, these initiatives put you in a race to the bottom. Better to focus on what your competitors are not doing well. For B2B companies today, this is understanding customer needs before developing new products for them.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs

“Hey… how are we going to kill our project today?!”

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This is what Astro Teller—the head of Google X—used to cheer with his teams. He went on to explain, “We spend most of our time trying to prove we’re wrong.” Is that how your company looks at big, transformational projects? Or do you associate a killed project with personal failure? Much better to lay out all the assumptions of “what must be true” for your project to succeed. Then go on a team “hunt” to find any that are not true. Find one? Celebrate and move on to the next project!

More in video at Project De-risking with Minesweeper

You can see surprising diversity with quantitative B2B market insight.

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We recently compiled a dozen short case stories of B2B clients doing impressive front-end work. (See www.aimcasestories.com.) What surprised us was how different each case was. The NPD project teams all used their quantitative Preference interviews to construct Market Satisfaction Gap profiles… and we were struck with how unique market segments can be. Truly, each one tells a story: Until you do quantitative interviews, though, that story goes untold.

More in article, Market Satisfaction Gaps… your key to B2B organic growth