The key lesson of war has been described as “concentration of force against weakness.”

Let’s substitute market research for reconnaissance… business strategy for battle plan… resource allocation for troop deployment. Many business leaders fail to 1) thoroughly understand their battle fronts, 2) determine the decisive points (markets) to attack, and 3) follow with an overwhelming assault here. These generals lose battles.

More in article, How’s Your Market Segmentation?

Unlike other areas of business, surprises are welcome when you’re developing new products.

Surprises in quality or cost control are unpleasant. But innovation relies on surprises. Without “non-obviousness,” an invention cannot even be patented. When a previously-hidden customer outcome becomes known, the discovering supplier has the luxury of seeking solutions in a competition-free environment.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 10).

If the repairman fixed your dryer when your washing machine was broken, would you pay him?

Neither will customers pay you for a product they don’t need. I call this new-product failure mode, “Nice shot, wrong target.” It is far too common. Most customers really do have something “broken” that needs fixed. Figure out what this is before you design your next new product, and they’ll pay you handsomely.

More in New Product Blueprinting article, Are You Maximizing Your Profits?

All new products are not created equal. You can benefit greatly by studying winners vs. losers.

Some products deliver enormous profits for decades, carrying whole businesses and careers on their sturdy shoulders. And then there are the tired, the poor, the huddled masses of wretched new products you wish were on your competitors’ teeming shores. You’ll find the blockbusters always satisfy six conditions. (See link below for details.)

More in article, Are You Maximizing Your Profits?

There are many ways to improve product development that are well-tested and proven to fail.

One is throwing more money at R&D in a Soviet-style arms race. Another is exhorting the troops to do better. An all-time favorite is asking tough project-review questions… but not training teams in the skills needed to find the answers. What if all your teams had the highest possible skills in understanding customer needs? Might this work better?

More in article, Do You Really Interview Customers?

The best value propositions aren’t created by suppliers… they’re discovered.

Ever watch stage-gate reviews or entire workshops wrestling with The Value Proposition? It’s not pretty. In my experience, good B2B customer interviews yield potential value propositions like so many ripe apples falling from a tree. You just need to pick which to pursue. If you have to dream them up, you’re climbing the wrong tree.

More in article, Three Steps to Unbeatable Value Propositions (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Validating hypotheses with customers distorts your entire new product development process.

Confirmation bias is the “tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses, regardless of whether the information is true.” It’s what happens when you take your lovely new-product hypotheses to customers. This systematically distorts data on customer needs… and that can’t be good for innovation, right?

More in article, Give your Hypothesis the “Silent Treatment” (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth).

Focus your innovation on market segments… or “clusters of customers with similar needs.”

Ultimately, everything your business does should be about efficiently delivering value to customers. If you don’t focus on clusters of like-minded customers, their needs will be randomly observed by different people in your company at different times under different conditions. Not an efficient way to develop new products—your lifeblood.

More in New Product Blueprinting article, How’s Your Market Segmentation?

There’s no need to accept much commercial risk… unless you’re a thrill-seeker.

When you finish the front-end of innovation, you may have plenty of technical risk ahead. But you can examine B2B customer outcomes at nine levels, and gain an incredible understanding of the customer’s world. Done well, your commercial risk should be negligible when you enter the development stage.

More in white paper, Timing is Everything (page 6).

Don’t rely on a small staff of voice-of-customer experts to do your company’s interviewing.

Large businesses chalk up thousands of face-to-face customer meetings each year… as sales and technical service reps go about their normal duties. Why not train these people to become VOC experts? They’ve already gained customers’ trust, they know the customer’s language, they’ll get key information first-hand, and there’s no extra travel cost.

More in article, The Cost Cutter’s Guide to Growth (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).