I’m still looking for a B2B industry that does not suffer from supplier-centric innovation.

It would seem obvious that new product development should be focused on those who will pay for these products: customers. It would seem. Yet B2B suppliers routinely pursue their own ideas, concepts and hypotheses, paying too little attention too late to market needs. True customer-centric innovation is a completely different mindset.

More in article, Is Your Innovation Supplier-Centric… or Customer-Centric? (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).

Strong innovation metrics should be insightful, predictive and actionable. Not missing.

Strong intermediate (vs. ultimate) innovation metrics share these qualities: 1. Insightful: They help firms understand relationships between cause and effect. 2. Predictive: They measure behavior that will foretell ultimate success. 3. Actionable: Their short “feedback loop” allows rapid adjustments to be made. Are you using such metrics?

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

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).