Don’t hire more R&D resources until you shift existing personnel “up and out.”

You shift resources “up” by investing manpower earlier in understanding market needs. This lets you be more successful later in developing solutions. You shift resources “out” when employees spend less time talking to each other… and more time directly engaging customers, through interviews and tours. Develop new skills for this, and create a new company culture.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 6).

It is unreasonable to expect sales calls to drive your innovation efforts.

Your sales force should play a key role in innovation-focused interviews. But not by themselves. Unaccompanied sales reps seldom attract all the right customer contacts, and they’re not rewarded for the long time horizons required. Besides, market-facing innovation requires central coordination, since a single sales territory won’t contain all the needed prospects.

More in article, Why Your Sales Force Can’t Hear the Customer’s Voice (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

Let’s hope you didn’t own that customer interview you just had.

If the customer felt they helped you with your interview, you probably wasted your airfare. But if they felt it was their interview, asked for a copy of the notes, and said you were a good meeting facilitator… you probably learned things your competitors don’t know. B2B insight skills are needed for this. Do your people have them?

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 9).

The higher your “insight level,” the greater your customer engagement will be.

Research shows customer engagement is critical to successful innovation. This engagement increases as you move through six “insight levels”: 1) Deciding what customers want in your conference rooms, 2) polling your sales force, 3) conducting customer surveys, 4) qualitative VOC, 5) quantitative VOC, and 6) B2B-optimized VOC. Where are you?

More in article, Boosting Innovation…In One Easy Lesson (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

Most companies can double their R&D resources… for free.

Want to add employees who know your technologies and markets, can start work tomorrow, and cost nothing more? It’s easy: Just kill the dead-end projects that tie up half your resources. Free your people to work on projects your customers actually care about. It’s not hard to learn which projects to kill. In fact, strong project teams will halt weak projects on their own.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 6).