Improving Product Capabilities, Efficiency and Preventing Failures
The Hollywood view of innovation is that it’s a ‘light bulb’ moment when someone instantly comes up with an idea that rapidly materializes into a world-changing product. Reed Hastings is massively overcharged for his movie rental, so he starts Netflix and begins shipping DVD’s by mail with no late fees. The portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in the movie, “The Social Network,” as he invents Facebook from his college dorm is another perfect example.
In the real world, innovation is a bit more mundane yet far more repeatable and practical. For organizations that have developed the skills necessary to innovate continuously, they treat it not as an activity, but rather as a competency that can be learned. It’s a muscle that is trained so it can flex when ideas for better products are needed.
As we discuss the different categories of how you can improve product performance, we’ll also discuss a few techniques that have been developed and used by companies that specialize in innovation. These approaches can help frame your thinking as you seek out opportunities best matching what your customers really want (even if they don’t know it yet).
Three categories of performance
Every product is unique. The value they deliver is dependent on a variety of factors and identifying the performance improvement activities that will generate the highest return falls in the hands of the entire team working on bringing the product to market. Having a framework for categorizing improvements is a helpful way to make sense of all these opportunities, so you can compare your ideas to customer demand to prioritize those that will have the most impact.
The three categories we will discuss in this eBook are:
Extending Product Capabilities
This category is all about answering, “what can your product do?” In most cases, it represents the return portion of the ROI equation.
Improving Product Efficiency
This category is more focused on the investment side of the equation. How much time, energy, or cost is going to be incurred in use.
Preventing Product Failures
Fairly self-descriptive, this category describes the lifespan of the product and how long customers can expect to realize value in their investment.