There are three ingredients for success in new product development: leadership mindset, organizational skillset, and operational toolset.
Ingredients for Success
Leadership mindset is obviously the most critical; without it, the other two cannot grow. Experience shows that business leaders see themselves outside of the innovation process, acting as the judges on how the team is doing its jobs. State Gate is an example of that: In many organizations, the leadership shows up, listens to the progress, and then at some point, makes a decision to go forward to stop. In some cases, teams have reported that it takes longer to schedule a meeting with the leadership than it does to do their work.
Organizational skillset is obvious; many organizations, while technically adept, do not have the needed skills to engage the market, especially at this early stage in the development process. Early engagement is critical to development. The leadership should set expectations high on this activity. The technical organization must be involved in market validation; in fact, the ideal is for a technical person and a marketing person work together throughout this stage. Experience shows that the technical people are generally better at asking the detail required to begin to understand what the solution might look like and how reasonable it is to get there.
Operational toolset is critical; it monetizes the potential innovation. To get to a business case early, two major quantifiable learnings are required:
- What does the opportunity (the concept) consist of?
- How many will buy it and what will they pay for it?
Obviously, while capturing that information, there is a whole spectrum of additional learnings that can also be discovered, and one will have utility later in the process. New engagement tools are available and should include a hybrid approach that utilizes qualitative learnings to learn the focus of market needs and quantitative learnings to measure the impact.