Innovation Process and Techniques: From Start to Finish Deep Dive Discovery Lab: PDMA PIM 2012
By Lee Goldring, new product development senior manager, Jarden Consumer Solution’s Global Appliance Group
In this lab, we took a journey. Our guide book was New Product Development for Dummies, co-authored by the Discovery Lab co-chair, Dr. Robin Karol. Our destination was a better understanding and set of tools to enable the attendees to take an idea from concept to launch.
We started with the discussion of why a company needs innovation. Why do we take this difficult journey? There is a need for a strategy, a specific one for innovation that is in alignment with the company's overall strategy. We also discussed looking at product lines, product maps, market definition and technology road mapping. We then discussed the overall map of our journey. Starting at the Ocean of Opportunity, we then have to move upstream to the river of development before we journey into the market. We went into some depth on how to fill the ocean with opportunities, emphasizing the need to get input from customers. We discussed getting the voice of the customer, using social media, using ethnography, observation and other ways that insight can be gained.
We moved on to how to generate ideas that can be transformed into opportunities and concepts. We outlined timing and techniques to get to breakthrough ideas. In addition, we did an exercise about how to make decisions emphasizing the need to have criteria for decision making. We used fruit as an example, selecting the best. There was a great deal of discussion about how to choose and what should it be based upon.
In the first half of the afternoon session, consumer products development veteran Lee Goldring discussed how to build effective product development teams and how to best maintain communications with the stakeholders of new product initiatives. Roles and responsibilities of the project team were covered, including a spotlight on the NPD manager. The phases of product development were reviewed in depth, with a focus on how the role of the NPD manager changes with each phase of the project: ideation, definition, development and launch.
Key to the success of any NPD manager is obtaining and keeping team alignment. There was much interaction between the attendees and the presenters, as we learned first-hand about the challenges each of us as members of the project team face on a daily basis. We discussed how keeping the delicate team equilibrium, focus and commitment requires a sophisticated leadership style, continuous attention to the humanistic side of the process and agreed-upon documentation that clearly outlines project objectives and goals.
Next, we covered decision team formation and review process. This included discussion of important milestones, where the decision team becomes most active during the product development lifecycle. Decision teams are formed based on the scope of the project, which is determined by level of complexity, risk, cost and business impact. Decision team discussions were followed by a review of the basic elements of portfolio management, the goal of which is to provide management and the development team a comprehensive view of whether current development efforts are in sync with market opportunities.
The River of Development and Product Launches was covered during the second half of the afternoon. There was very active participation as we discussed guiding principles of product development, including designating a project leader, working cross-functionally, conducting product reviews, conducting gated presentations and the need to customize the process and tools to meet your specific firm’s needs. As part of this session, product launch strategies were examined. The lab participants learned the importance of identifying and defining the relevant key market planning elements needed for new product in-market success, as well as the need to link early-stage marketing (“Fuzzy Front End” ) to late-stage marketing—as you must do both stages well to win!
Finally, we presented a brief introduction to social product development, including the benefits and challenges of using private online communities for research and consumer validation.
Participants developed the following list of valuable, new concepts they learned during the Discovery Lab:
Ideas do not get to market faster by skipping processes up-front.
Be passionate—and be a Jack of all trades.
Make sure you ask the right questions.
Talk to the right people, including people in other business areas.
Validating your idea and getting the message out is important.
Know your market size.
Have passion around "ideas."
Empathize with your target market.
Be dedicated to self-learning.
Fully understand the process and the market.
Do initial research, and ask and conduct further research as you go along.