We introduced tens of thousands of new products last year. We are good at it. We know the rules for new product development and when we follow those rules we succeed. Contrary to popular opinion, 60% of product ideas that make it through a rigorous pre-launch market and technical research and development process succeed. Unfortunately, we frequently limit our use of new product development knowledge.
Product is technology merging with need. Our success as product professionals in making the technology/need merger work has created unparalleled product variety at an astonishingly low cost for Americans. Technology is exploding outward. Labs are emerging in smaller companies and even in the basements of our “downsized” technical specialist associates. Leading technology is no longer in the hands of only the giant companies. There is an impressive amount of knowledge on the street seeking a new home.
Look at just one area – agribusiness – According to the Food Research and Action Center, the Urban Institute and others, 50 million American households are “food insecure”. Another 100 million of us face current or future risk from disease related to poor or excessive Western diets. These statistics represent real needs. Theses needs are not out there in an emerging future or Third World. they are OUR needs!
Exploding technology and rampant need will lead to major innovations at every step of the food value change. Your market is probably no different. There are eight steps prior to the leap of faith required of those who will participate in the cascade of relentless innovation to come:
- Ideas are infinite. There is always more than one right answer.
- Only those who attempt the absurd achieve the impossible. there are limits to what you can logically do. Logic may be excess baggage. Dump it. Don’t worry, it won’t go away – you can get it back easily.
- Intuition is your friend. Twenty years of experience entitles you to a hunch, to go with gut reaction
- All things are connected. Diversity is strength. There is more power in combining technologies from different parts of the value chain than from pushing a single technical platform. Collaborate
- Pain + time = humor. Laughing at your past is the first step in learning from it.
- Risk-taking and resistance create a pro-survival balance. Both are key to successful innovation. Yet, you need 10 risk-takers to drag the weight of one, well-meaning “voice of reason”.
- Creativity takes space. Creativity is sloppy and inefficient.
- Creativity requires practice and an intense desire to be good at it. You would not expect to play the piano on your first try. Your mind is a complex instrument.
At one time, we all knew how to take these steps. Now we need only remember. There is too much work to be done, too many needs to be met, too many exciting technologies to exploit for us to do anything else but become relentless innovators.