What exactly is new product development? Does the “product” actually have to be a product? Or can it be a process? Does the idea have to come from the C Suite? Or can it be a suggestion from the factory floor, the retail showroom, the Idea Box or a customer tip?
How do you treat ideas once they land in your organization’s “idea hopper”, and how wide is your idea funnel?
Answer these questions, and you’ve placed your finger on the pulse of how your organization embraces new product development.
New Product Development (NPD) best blossoms in that place where creativity commingles with structure – where fresh thinking is fostered in a nursery of structured liberation. Think of ideas as if they were offspring: They should be free to roam and explore, but they need fences – structure – in their lives to ensure safe maturation in a controlled environment.
The same is true for NPD – regardless of whether products are widgets for sale or processes envisioned to improve the organization. A formalized new product development process will guide your organization towards Innovation through steps and “sub-steps” to help you make a Go / No-Go decision.
A carefully designed business process will take you through all the steps of new product development including idea generation, concept development, prototype development, and scale-up to launching and tracking. And remember that good “products” don’t all necessarily have to result in revenues; they can enhance processes, that in turn, can boost profitability.
Finally, is your organization prepared to measure the results – not of the new product, but of the process itself? Do you have a system in place to gather, measure and share both the success and the stumbling blocks? Are you prepared to ask yourself, how did the process work?
The truth is, future success can be closely tied into past accomplishments – if you’re willing to ask the right questions, create the right environment, and learn along the way.
Robert Brands is the founder of InnovationCoach.com, and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival”, with Martin Kleinman – published Spring 2010 by Wiley (www.robertsrulesofinnovation.com).