Bucket #1 is Technology Development… science-facing innovation that turns money into knowledge. Bucket #2 is Product Development… market-facing innovation that turns knowledge back into money. Bucket #3 is Process Development… optimizing the production of existing products to make money more efficiently. Don’t focus on customer needs for Bucket #1 (it’s too early) or #3 (it’s too late)… but do this very well for Bucket #2. In the entire money-making process, this is your greatest point of leverage today.
More in article, Target Customer Needs and Win
Do you clearly distinguish between technology development and product development? Technology development is science-facing, while product development is market-facing. Technology development turns money into knowledge, and product development turns knowledge back into money. Keep technology and product development separate if you want to avoid confusion and inefficiency. Milestones on a Gantt chart are great for product development, but good luck scheduling technical breakthroughs in your lab.
More in article, Timing is Everything (p6).
Market Satisfaction Gaps (MSG) come from teams’ quantitative interviews, and are reliable evidence of which outcomes customer do—and do not—want “fixed.” When you require MSGs as the “admission ticket” for projects to enter the costly product development stage, 3 things go away: 1. Confusion (misunderstanding customer needs and their priorities), 2. Bias (altering customer needs to better fit our pre-conceived solutions), and 3. Filtering (cherry-picking customer needs to match those we hoped to hear.)
More in article, Market Satisfaction Gaps… your key to B2B organic growth
Do your new product development teams deal only with facts? Or are “factoids” interspersed, cleverly hiding among the facts? The Oxford English Dictionary defines a factoid as “an item of unreliable information that is repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.” Better to clearly identify and separate your assumptions from facts at the onset of your project… and rigorously investigate the assumptions until your project is based on facts alone.
More in video De-risking Transformational Projects
What’s the net present value of accelerating the launch of a $5 million revenue-per-year product by one month? About $80,000… or $4000 per business day. Yet we often hinder teams’ progress with organizational friction: travel bans, spending freezes, hiring delays, new assignments, re-organizations, new initiatives, frequent changes in strategy. Consider these actions carefully lest you turn exciting innovation into a mind-numbing slog.
More in article, Accelerate New Product Innovation
The difference between speed and velocity is that only velocity has a direction associated with it. Many in business are focused on going as fast as they can… in any direction. Avoiding solid front-end-of-innovation work because you want to develop your new product faster is a prime example. Sure, you launched your product quickly… but no one bought it, because you failed to first understand customers’ needs.
More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B
The Oxford Dictionary defines a factoid as an item of unreliable information that is repeated so often it becomes accepted as fact. Too often in product development, what we view as a fact is just a factoid. Its fine to have assumptions, but make sure they don’t dress up as facts. What you think you know is more dangerous than what you know you think.
View video, De-risking Transformational Projects
The human brain likes to diverge first (look at all these deserts), and then converge (the chocolate lava cake, please). We shortcut this highly-effective approach when we begin by asking customers if they like our idea, hypothesis, or prototype. First, diverge with an open-minded exploration of all customer needs in B2B-optimized, voice-of-customer interviews. When you converge in a later round of interviews, do so quantitatively, so your confirmation bias doesn’t kick in.
More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 16).
How about knowing their response before they see it? B2B customers are so knowledgeable that you can model their behavior based on what you learn in customer interviews. Prototypes are still worthwhile—for refinement and engagement. But they’re far too expensive and time-consuming if you do them before conducting insightful B2B customer interviews.
More in article, How to model customer needs
A new product development process with stages and gates provides helpful discipline. But most suffer from two limitations: 1) Internal focus… talking to ourselves instead of customers. 2) Analytical thinking… promoting a checklist mentality. You also need discovery thinking, with a focus on learning. Unlike analytical thinking, this is fragile and must be nurtured.
More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?
Neither will customers pay you for a product they don’t need. I call this new-product failure mode, “Nice shot, wrong target.” It is far too common. Most customers really do have something “broken” that needs fixed. Figure out what this is before you design your next new product, and they’ll pay you handsomely.
More in New Product Blueprinting article, Are You Maximizing Your Profits?
Some products deliver enormous profits for decades, carrying whole businesses and careers on their sturdy shoulders. And then there are the tired, the poor, the huddled masses of wretched new products you wish were on your competitors’ teeming shores. You’ll find the blockbusters always satisfy six conditions. (See link below for details.)
More in article, Are You Maximizing Your Profits?
One is throwing more money at R&D in a Soviet-style arms race. Another is exhorting the troops to do better. An all-time favorite is asking tough project-review questions… but not training teams in the skills needed to find the answers. What if all your teams had the highest possible skills in understanding customer needs? Might this work better?
More in article, Do You Really Interview Customers?
Ever watch stage-gate reviews or entire workshops wrestling with The Value Proposition? It’s not pretty. In my experience, good B2B customer interviews yield potential value propositions like so many ripe apples falling from a tree. You just need to pick which to pursue. If you have to dream them up, you’re climbing the wrong tree.
More in article, Three Steps to Unbeatable Value Propositions (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).