Originally published on LinkedIn on April 27, 2018.

Define Your Concept Statement

One barrier to a successful innovation commercialization is the lack of a well-defined concept statement and description. This may surprise most of you, as it did me when I recently reviewed 20 project charters. Although teams could describe what they were working on and why, they were not able to translate those thoughts into a Value Concept.

I probably should start with my definition of a concept statement. A concept statement has three key elements:

  • What benefits do we propose to bring to the market with the concept?
  • What form will the concept need to take to be usable by the market?
  • What technology will provide the basis for assuring the concept will be meaningful and unique?

This concept statement, generally defined in a single sentence, can be enhanced by incorporating a specific set of elements (characteristics) of the concept. This enables the benefits to be achieved and demonstrates the difference with existing competitive solutions. In essence, the concept statement can evolve into a value proposition hypothesis that can be tested with potential users. If the concept statement is not in a form to be tested, it is generally a poorly thought through concept. This is where most innovators fall short, and until they reach this stage, the project flounders, alignment is impossible, and market driven cannot be achieved.

The Concept Description

Taking it one step further, a well defined concept statement begs the addition of a concept description. A concept description further readies the team to move forward faster and greatly simplifies the work they must do to both test the concept and test their ability to develop the concept. A good description

  • Has a good basis for addressing the right market space
  • Understands the technology and how to apply it in the event the market validation step recommended proceeds to development
  • Identifies the key uncertainties and areas of leverage

Different innovators have different templates for describing concepts, but in every successful organization, they use these concept descriptions to prioritize and select concepts to charter. They also use these descriptions as a basis for evaluation stages along the path of innovation from charter to product launch. Not only does this approach accelerate the process, but it also increases agility by enabling modifications along the way as more is learned from the market segments and internal capability.

We would like to hear your take on concerns about well articulated concept statements in your organization as well as any thoughts about this blog post. Tell us what you think. Leave a comment below.

About the Author

Ronald E. SullivanRon Sullivan is a Senior Partner at Breakthrough Marketing Technology. He has worked with many businesses on innovation, new product development processes, strategy, building new business models, channels and distribution, and pricing optimization. He has significant expertise in study design, data analysis, and market intelligence.


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