Innovation Fact 17 – It’s not because you can that you should
Companies are under a lot of pressure to deliver new products. Technology is often a driving force for these innovations. Therein also lies the danger: it is not because technology makes something possible that it is a good idea. If you want to make something that customers really want, focus on what they need instead of what you can make.
So instead of wondering what you could make next within the framework of your current research or production process, start with market research. Find out if and who’s waiting for your wonderful invention and what it will contribute to their lives.
You wouldn’t be the first to make a new product that no one needs. There is even a museum of failures that showcases failed products.
Thoroughly analyze what functionality your new product needs to have. How can you meet these requirements? Maybe some technology scouting or consumer research can guide you and offer valuable insights.
During development, it is important to check as soon as possible whether what you are making is still the best possible solution. Use a lean methodology to quickly put a minimum viable product on the market. Question your target group again. Is this what they want? Add expansions where needed and trim all unnecessary extras. The best solutions are often the simplest ones.
Be critical about your own ideas. Do not assume every idea is brilliant or the perfect solution to an existing problem. It is always a good idea to test whether people will actually buy your product (which is a totally different thing than people telling a market researcher they would buy it). A popular means of doing so is the so-called ‘Smoke Test’:
Knowing when to persevere with an idea and when to stop is not an easy task, as we have discussed before. Yet stubbornly continuing developing a product nobody wants will lead to disaster. So, think critically about your idea, discuss it with others any way and any time you can. Challenge your idea and adapt to new insights and understandings.