I guess it’s the current climate, but I seem to spend a lot of time these days, talking to people whose businesses are struggling and very often they are in a mess because they are overstretched.

Nowadays, we are all having to achieve more with fewer people and one of the first things that tend to suffer is innovation or the product development programme.  However, if you are not working on your next big idea right now, you probably won’t be around for long.

Because acquisition is so much more expensive than growing your existing customers, you can’t afford to do anything that will reduce your customer satisfaction rating, in fact, you should be ramping up your CRM and innovation will play a central role in this.  So, how do you continue to innovate when you are already looking to do more with less, ?

The only way to go is to improve your prioritisation.  I was talking to a business recently that was very proud of its innovation.  However all they had were ideas, no marketing, so they hadn’t sold anything.  In fact last year they flushed the best part of a million euros down the toilet, developing a product on a hunch, only to find as they rounded the final bend, that nobody wanted to buy it.  Believe it or not, nobody had thought to research the market as when they first came up with the idea and before they started developing it.

By all means, talk to customers or dig into your competitors’  businesses, just be tougher on yourself, introduce more stringent criteria for taking an idea into development and if an idea passes the test, give it all you’ve got.  Your success rate will improve.  When, like now the business bar is raised, its far better to have a handful of great ideas than hundreds of half-arsed ones.

It doesn’t only apply to product development.  Innovate and prioritise in every area of your business and you’ll be surprised how efficient you’ll become. Design an idea development process, keep your objective firmly in your sights, establish criteria for every step in every innovation process and don’t waver.  It takes discipline, but if you stick at it you’ll come out on top.

Michael Weaver
October 28, 2010

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