While many potentially valid ideas are identified, few are pursued when a company lacks the strategy and infrastructure to bring these ideas to fruition. Many companies do not have the ability to productize ideas, even if only to develop prototypes and put them in users’ hands in a reasonable time frame.
Developing an efficient mechanism for getting products from the idea phase to initial prototype (and then to market) has significant benefits:
Identified below are several tools for getting products from the idea generation phase through initial prototype and then to market:
One lower cost, lower risk method for testing product viability and bringing products and services to market is Rapid Prototyping. This involves instituting processes to quickly convert ideas, even if they are only 25-50% complete, into live products that can be placed the hands of potential users or testers. Zynga, the social gaming company, was a pioneer of releasing games that were less than 100% complete and leveraging user feedback for product enhancement. While Zynga’s overall business model has been tested over the past several years, their ability to rapidly develop, iterate and improve their games can be leveraged broadly in software and product development.
Rapid prototyping has several requirements and attributes, including:
Tapping into an organization’s typically underutilized internal resources can help generate solutions to customer pain points. In the process, however, the organization may produce an unmanageable number of ideas, many of which are not product-worthy or supported by a strong business model. While only one in 20 ideas may be worth exploring, several impactful products may result from internal idea generating efforts.
In order to properly generate and manage internally sourced ideas, companies should address the following:
Some large, multinational organizations, such as MasterCard and Deutsche Telekom, have developed internal “labs” to generate new product ideas and bring these products to market. These labs have several objectives, including:
While an internal lab can be an effective vehicle for generating ideas and developing products, it can also create the perception internally that the group is merely a “skunk works” initiative and not core to the business. Management must be diligent in integrating the lab’s message, methodology, and personnel into the broader organization in order to facilitate effective company-wide collaboration.
Product innovation and getting new product to market quickly is increasingly important but often difficult to execute. Management can help by developing an environment that supports rapid prototyping, harvesting internal ideas, taking calculated risks, and eliminating friction in getting products developed and into the hands of potential users. Internally generated products often solve customer pain points, and with proper recognition, inspired employees may continue to produce innovative ideas for years to come.
By Tal Raeside
Tal Raeside is Managing Director at Insight Strategic Services, a consulting firm focused on the worldwide mobile, media, technology and digital convergence industries. He works with Fortune 500 companies, start-ups, and leading technology-driven firms on strategy, innovation and product development. Over the past 20 years Tal has served as a senior executive, advisor, management consultant and entrepreneur focusing on global strategy execution, partnerships, and fostering innovation within large and small organizations worldwide. He obtained his MBA with honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and earned his B.S. with honors from Carnegie Mellon University.
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