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Jolt your new product results

jolt your new product innovation processLooking for a way to accelerate your new product results and get more from your new product processes? Here are three steps you can take to caffeinate your innovation.

1. Narrow your focus

While concentrating too hard on one thing can cause you to mistake the forest for the trees, that’s hardly the problems in companies today. No, people are normally spread to thin – dealing with anywhere between five and ten projects at the same time.

The so-called multi-tasking required to survive this situation puts people in a constant state of distraction (beta brainwave state) as they switch back and forth between tasks. It also means that they spend a higher percentage (greater than 70% by some estimates) of their time on the non-value added activity of juggling tasks.

Instead, determine the number of projects you can do with people assigned to only one project at a time. You’ll find people more effective and more engaged because a much higher percentage of their time is spent in a productive flow or focused performance state (alpha brain wave) instead of managing multiple priorities.

With this approach, you’ll run far fewer projects at any given time, but get them done much faster. While this may seem counter-intuitive, you’ll also get far more projects done in the same period of time. You can learn more about the benefits of this pipelining approach in this article.

2. Get out of your environment and into theirs

Yes, an aesthetically pleasing work environment, one with wide-open spaces, natural light, and great views can be inspiring. But that’s missing the point when it comes to innovation.

The environment that is the source of innovation is out in the marketplace with customers, economic-buyers and end-users. That’s where the unmet needs are. Where you can observe customers in action and understand all the things in their work or home lives that are complex, inconvenient, dirty, boring or costly – the unmet need that you can develop products or services to address.

3. Never stop asking why

And while you are out in the customer’s environment, the single most powerful question you can ask is why. Because asking why leads you to the real problem – the source of their real needs.

When interviewing customers and digging into their problems, the first answers you get might be superficial—often highlighting what they want rather than what they need and will buy. But continue to ask why, five or more times, until you get to the actionable root cause and you’ll have the basis for a solution or at least a direction for developing one. You can read more about the “5 Why’s” in this article.

This article originally appeared at Blogging Innovation.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Inventionland July 14, 2010, 5:56 am

    The environment does a part in the product innovation process, also thinking about who you target your product too is important.

    • Michael A. Dalton July 14, 2010, 6:53 am

      Thanks for your observations. If you're talking about the customers environment your comment is spot on. That's where you can observe and identify the problems the are dealing with – key to developing a solution but also to communicating the value later on.

      As far as who you're targeting – that's what strategy and market segmentation are all about. It's critical that you identify ways to segment the market based on problems that you can address and potential unmet needs that you can solve.


  • Paul Douma July 26, 2010, 2:05 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Michael. If more companies followed your thinking, we’d have a lot fewer boring line extensions of little value to consumers cluttering up the landscape.

    • Michael A. Dalton July 27, 2010, 4:54 pm

      Thanks Paul. While line extensions aren't a very exciting part of a complete diet, let's not completely rule them out either. They can be a very profitable way to keep cash cows alive and pay for lots of research and new programs.

  • Michael A. Dalton July 27, 2010, 12:06 pm

    Always good to hear from you SKI. There are lots of different ways to ask why to make the conversation flow more naturally. I also agree that with each new tidbit of information you uncover it's really important to ask yourself "so what?" What's the impact of that? It helps get to what I like to call the actionable root cause. You do have to be careful asking "so what" in customer visits because it can come across as abrasive. Of course so can "Why" if you over use it!

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