Your goal should be to waste fewer innovation resources than competitors.

Well, isn’t that inspirational? Perhaps not… but remember you’re in a constant battle with competitors to innovate for customers. One of the best ways to tip the “efficiency” balance in your favor is to consistently learn when projects are unattractive… before competitors. Then decisively kill them so resources can be used for winning projects.

More in article, Are You Maximizing Your Profits?

If you’re eradicating surprises in quality & productivity, it’s hard to embrace them in innovation.

Innovation is fueled by the unexpected. But many suppliers are surprise-averse. They start with their own ideas, filter them through internal processes, and avoid customer-led interviews. In an odd twist, surprise-averse suppliers are the most likely to be surprised… by mistaken market assumptions and blockbusters introduced by surprise-seeking competitors.

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

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).

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).

Most companies measure innovation results. Few measure innovation capabilities.

Do you know if your company is improving key capabilities? Understanding customers’ needs, assessing competitive alternatives, creating data-driven value propositions, etc.? A race team that just counts wins—instead of pit crew times and engine torque—stops winning. Understand the capabilities that drive innovation and start measuring them.

Read more in the article, 3 Problems with Innovation Metrics (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Be paranoid about the innovation capabilities your competitors may be building.

If your new product development process does not require customer interviews today, consider two questions: 1) Do I have competitors beating me to the new product punch because they are using such interviews to uncover market needs? 2) Could I leapfrog them by building a company-wide competency of B2B-optimized interviews?

More in article, B2B Customer Interviews: Are They Different?

Avoid the commodity death spiral at all costs.

Imagine your business stopped innovating, your profits declined, and it is now budgeting time. To salvage next year, you’ll likely cut long-term costs, e.g. R&D or marketing, further reducing your ability to create high-value products. Next year, you’ll have even fewer options. This results in death or irrelevancy. If you’ve started this spiral, pull out quickly.

More in article, The Commodity Death Spiral (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

Innovation is the last frontier left for us to settle.

The average company only has a 25% success rate after it finishes its front-end work. With Six Sigma success, you’ve got three defects per million attempts… while your new product development is stuck at three defects per four attempts. Can you think of any other area in your company with this level of waste? Don’t let your competitors tame this frontier first.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 3)

Profitable, sustainable organic growth makes it fun to go to work.

When you can count on this kind of growth, everything gets better. Employees have stable, rewarding careers… industry-watchers admire your company… investors give you a free reign.  And this irritates competitors. You have but one path to this growth: innovation that benefits your customers. How intense is your focus here? Greater than competitors’?

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 2)