“Here today, gone tomorrow.” This is the innovation failure mode that is seldom recognized.

Picture this: You develop a great new product, price it well, and profits begin flowing. This does not go unobserved by competitors who introduce a knock-off, causing prices to drop. Everyone noticed the initial success, but few noticed the failure: Aggressive patent homework might have kept those profits flowing for years. Depressing… if you noticed.

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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?