Successfully harvesting New Product Ideas

Succes factors tarlunt
August 29, 2018

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”

This famous quote was given by Lee Iacocca, one of the icons within the global automotive industry. With this quote, he addressed one of the main challenges that almost every company -from local start-up to global enterprise is facing: how to “harvest” brilliant ideas into successful new product introductions?

Based on two decades of Cost-and Value Engineering project experience within various industries, Tarlunt has identified 5 key success factors that -when managed well- will increase the success rate of your harvesting process.

1. Truly understand your customer (and which problem to tackle)

In many cases, new product development projects are started while the true customer requirements are still unclear. This situation is often caused by the fact that companies simply didn’t spend enough -or any- time on setting up a dialogue with their customers -and even more important- with their “not yet” customers.

Gathering feedback from both customer that have been using your product for a period of time and people who decided not to buy your product is key to understand which problem(s) are to be solved. This input is crucial to understand which requirements are to be met and which opportunities can be harvested!

Starting a new project while the customer perspective is vague or mainly an internal view will almost automatically lead to a product or solution that the (not yet) customer is not waiting for.

2. Organize management buy-in

The implementation of ideas into new products is often far more complex than expected. Technical complexity, the availability of various disciplines -including external suppliers- and a timely delivery of information and materials are in many cases the main challenges. To overcome these challenges, it is not only essential set up a well-organized project, but also to organize sufficient management buy-in. A management team can increase the success rate of the implementation phase by making sure that the right resources are available and the right decisions are taken at the right moment.

3. Join forces

Developing a new, or changing an existing product is never a one man show. Like in a spiderweb, touching one part of the web will also move other parts; in the same way changing one aspect of a product will also affect other aspects. To be successful it is crucial to bring creativity together by involving the right experts. Think in this case of an end to end perspective and also involve people from outside your project team and even outside your organization (e.g. customers and suppliers). To get the most out of this creative process, make sure they work together as one team and orchestrate the harvesting process.

4. Be aware of hype thinking

To come up with innovative ideas, people are usually encouraged to think “outside the box”. But be aware that outside this box there can be a minefield full of “hypes”. Ideas that are based on these hypes might look promising and can therefore -due to a lack of validation- be accepted too easily. By organizing a validation cycle for all ideas, the risk of explosive hype based ideas can be reduced.

5. Be realistic

Often once the creative phase is finished and all product ideas have been reviewed and monetarized, mountains of gold are promised towards the various stakeholders. Aspects such as time to market, potential savings and projected sales are usually overrated and unrealistic. This can result in an “up hill battle” causing demotivated project members in the long run. There is of course nothing wrong with being ambitious, however your development project will surely benefit from a realistic target setting underpinned by a solid planning and business case.

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Mark Waayer

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