Friday, October 29, 2010

INNOVATION TRENDS: New Product Introduction (NPI) Opportunity for Executive Leadership

The Boston Consulting Group’s Innovation 2010 report, a large majority of companies named innovation as a top strategic priority for 2010: 72 percent named it as a top three priority for 2010 versus 64 percent in 2009.

The trend is clear: Companies coming out of the Great Recession believe innovation in product development is the key for growth in the future.

In a recent breakfast with the COO of a Tier One Smart Mobile Platform Provider yesterday, I asked him what his number one business priority was for global scale improvements and the New Product Introduction (NPI) process and the quality around this process was his number one focus area for improvement.

As the competition continues to grow in the Mobile space, this was not a surprize to hear. For some time, our firm has been helping leading companies like SAP, MTS Allstream, Bell and many others understand the strengths and gaps in their NPI Processes and practices.

In today's market, C level executives must be digging under the covers of their NPI processes, irrespective of company size and integrating ideation to retirement practices for all their service lines. With the amount of planning and investment in taking a new product or service to market, and the knowledge/documentation that is generated from each solution launch, organizations have to tighten up their knowledge management practices, and measurement systems in this area.

It is no longer sufficient to simply have the Chief Technology Officer or Chief Marketing Officer or VP of Product Development overseeing NPI practices, this is one of the most critical fulfilment underpinnings to any organization and each C level executive needs to be deeply knowledge of this value chain.

NPI needs to increasingly become a business imperative for creating a stronger innovation highway, supported by vigilence in culture and leadership practices.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Innovation is Like the Bark of a Dog

I have been listening recently to the different sounds of how a dog barks. Sometimes the sound is sharp if a small terrier, if a german sheppard, firm and often echoes, a small new born maltese, faint and weak, a bulldog is strong and aggressive. Thinking of the different dog barks, it occurred to me that Innovation is like the Bark of a Dog.

Innovation is all about being heard in the crowd. Dogs like to be heard in any crowd, no matter how big or small they may be.

Innovation is like the steady beat of a drum to ensure breakthrough results. Dogs are like this as they are persistent in ensuring their drum beat is heard and they seldom stop easily, if if taken away from a barking doggie jamming session - they soon return with renewed eloquence to keep their beats being heard.

Innovation flourishes when trust is amplified. Dogs on a walk with their masters do a quick check with one another, but soon come together to play and focus on a task at hand, especially when there is a common goal they can both relate to.

Perhaps the most important thread of why Innovation is like the bark of a dog, is that dogs come in all different shapes and sizes.

Some dogs are small like incremental change, while other dogs are one of kind, and difficult to breed, like innovation often is; finding a barrier to entry and creating complexities in production practices is all in the day of an innovation dog!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Innovation is a Process with Art of the Long View

Innovation is a process that is best managed with a long term perspective, not necessarily measured in long time increments (e.g., months, years), but rather in the completion of targeted goals.

This requires separating the innovation process into three implementable stages:1)identification of goals and exploration activities, 2) short-term deliverables and 3)near-term development.

The first stage, identification of goals and exploration activities, defines the course of action and establishes the motivational inspiration for the entire innovation process.

Setting forth a vision for the innovation goal and providing opportunities to explore various solutions enables innovator buy-in to the goal. Once the goal has been identified, the steps that need to be accomplished for success can be prioritized, assigned to stage 2 or stage 3, and executed accordingly.

It is important to realize that stage 2 and stage 3 are not static, and should be routinely reviewed and updated. As goals in stage 2 are completed, some of those in stage 3 move into stage 2 to provide the basis for a new set of measurable results and outcomes.

It is management’s responsibility to assess performance to goals in each stage and to determine when a goal has been completed or moved into a different stage.

By splitting the execution phase into 2 stages, the innovation process is positioned to yield a continuous flow of near term successes, which maintains innovator motivation. Furthermore, if corrections to the initial strategy need to be implemented, they can be done in a timely fashion and at relatively low cost.

It is important to understand that a clear definition of what constitutes innovation is critical to the success of measurement. If we define innovation as "people creating new value and capturing value in a new way ," there are basically three focal points to measure it:

** Past / current innovation performance
** The demonstrated ability to create and capture sustainable and profitable value from innovation
** Future/expected innovation potential
** Effective/efficient innovation capacity
** The activated capacity to realize the firm's full growth and innovation potential

The best wisdom I received as a Venture Capitalist in viewing innovation was to think of innovation like a venture capitalist, drive hard into value proposition, go to market risks, and the quality of the teams' skills and abilities to execute successfully.

I have also learned innovation is all about talent that are smart enough to iterate and learn successfully together working with leadership that have the art of the long view, and patience to keep sustaining the art of practice.
Bookmark and Share