The product development journey can be exciting but harrowing for even the most experienced company let alone the first time innovator. I have helped both large and small companies take an early idea right through to commercialization and some organizations are much more successful than others. Here are a few principles that I see the successful companies follow.
Principle 1. Start with the end in mind
To innovate strategically you need to understand the end game. Therefore, right from the start have an idea of your commercialization strategy.
Principle 2. Assume nothing, let the market drive your innovation
It is critical to carry out good voice-of-customer research. Many organisations think they know what customers want but they have not actually asked them. My advice is don’t assume anything, even if you have been in the market for a very long time.
Principle 3. Avoid designing while innovating
The most innovative companies don’t confuse core research with actually designing a product. Early stage research and proof of concept doesn’t have to look like a product.
Principle 4. Align incentives. Focus on products not projects
To get a partner to behave as a partner you need to share incentives. Many product development companies have a ‘project’ mentality. They are focussed on responding to a specification instead of your commercial outcome.
Principle 5. Turn big projects into small projects
One of the biggest risks in a large product development project is heading off down the wrong path and having to back up. The best way to manage this risk is turn your big project into a series of small projects. Each project stage has a clear set of objectives, activities and deliverables.
Principle 6. Re-use rather than re-invent
By re-using existing technology, often from adjacent industries, you significantly reduce your development costs and deliver more reliable products to market faster.
For a product to be considered successful it must be commercially successful
The end goal for all products is successful commercialization. There are many ways to go from innovation to commercialization and there are opportunities to innovate at every stage. Whether you have an insourced or outsourced team ensure you all share the same goals and remain focussed on the commercial outcome of your product. Good luck and enjoy the journey.