Are your “P” and “PC” out of balance?

Decades ago, Stephen Covey explained we need to balance “P” (production) against “PC” (production capability). Today many companies just focus on this year’s results (P), without building the capabilities needed for future growth (PC). Don’t just hit the reset button and start over again every year. Instead, build the future you want.

More in article, Better get used to mediocre growth (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Why not imitate the leaders you admire?

Which business leaders do you admire… Henry Ford… Jeff Bezos… Elon Musk… Steve Jobs? Why do you admire them? Because they were great at slashing budgets, running financial review meetings, or giving quarterly EPS guidance? Here’s the irony: Many business leaders behave quite differently than those they admire.

More in article, How to become a great business leader (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Market-facing innovation routinely suffers from wrong facts and missing facts.

The #1 culprit for wrong facts is the untested assumption. Someone thinks the customer would like this or that, and the assumption morphs into a “fact” over time. A missing fact occurs when an important question is not answered. The overwhelming reason is… it’s never asked. With proper B2B customer interviews, you can avoid most wrong and missing facts.

More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?

So many ways to fail. Do you have a favorite?

In the front end of innovation, though, there are just two ways to fail. An error omission is failing to uncover an unarticulated customer need. An error of commission is choosing the wrong customer need to work on. Funny thing about errors of omission: No one knows you erred… until a competitor launches a blockbuster product.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 5).

Stage-and-gate processes are necessary, but not sufficient.

A new product development process with stages and gates provides helpful discipline. But most suffer from two limitations: 1) Internal focus… talking to ourselves instead of customers. 2) Analytical thinking… promoting a checklist mentality. You also need discovery thinking, with a focus on learning. Unlike analytical thinking, this is fragile and must be nurtured.

More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?

It’s easy to be distracted. Building real growth capabilities? Now that’s hard.

Some firms exhibit “Brownian motion,” with initiatives flying in all directions. In others, ideas are vigorously debated… in action-free zones. In other cases, action begins but quickly fades, leaving employees wondering what next year’s program will be. In the saddest situations, long-term initiatives live only in the investor relations department’s PowerPoint® slides.

More in article, Build Growth Muscles at Your Company (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

How is the modern B2B innovator like a weather forecaster?

In both cases models are used to predict future behavior. Barometric pressure and other data are the “raw material” for weather models. For you, it’s quantitatively measuring key customer outcomes in the front-end of innovation. Your model lets you replicate the customer experience… so you can know with confidence how they’ll react to any of your product designs.

More in article, How to model customer needs (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Are you experiencing the Red Queen Effect?

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Alice was dismayed after much running to find she and the queen were still in the same spot. The Red Queen explained, “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go any­where, you must run twice as fast as that.” What are you doing that truly lets you “run faster” than competitors? Here’s one that works: Understand customer needs better than them.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 7).

The most dangerous stage-and-gate conversations are the ones you don’t have.

For example, do you have a serious discussion about customers’ next best alternatives? What do we know about these alternatives, how do we know this to be true, how do customers measure their satisfaction, and how is our new product design stacking up? Without such insight, you’ll have to guess at your new-product pricing.

More in article, Four Steps Needed for New Product Differentiation (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Never sell or solve on customer interviews.

Send commercial-technical teams on interviews… but don’t let them sell or solve. If you sell during voice-of-customer sessions, customers know you’re not really interested in them. If you solve, you’re jeopardizing your intellectual property. In either case, you’re wasting precious time better used to understand customer needs.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 24).