I call this the golden rule of investment. In the case of innovation, it explains why the front-end-of-innovation is the critical battleground. The winning company is the one that most efficiently learns whatever intelligence is needed to drive this important decision: “Should we advance this project into the costly development stage?”
More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?
Initially, you are aware of the first three, but completely unaware of the fourth—surprises. When you begin your project, list the first three, and try to convert A’s and Q’s into F’s. Then uncover the surprises through customer interviews, tours and observation. Seek to understand the first three, and discover the last one.
More in white paper, Innovating in Unfamiliar Markets (pages 12-13).
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)