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Message from the future

What are the insensible practices in product innovation today, let’s ask our tomorrow

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Published a year ago on Dec 03, 2019 6 minutes Read

Let us board a time machine to travel 20 years into the future and look back at B2B innovation today. Aren’t there enough outdated practices that will make us snigger?

We know of many old practices that were outdated a long time ago, yet several still practise them! High-pressure selling (“Always be closing”) versus consultative selling, quality control inspectors versus statistical process control, net present value model to make investment decisions versus options thinking and discovery-driven planning?

New practices “seep in” at snail’s pace through the business world, sometimes requiring two or three decades before broad adoption. This seems odd when early adopters reap major competitive advantages in improved quality, leaner operations, better customer relations and so on.

If you, as a business leader, want to see the future, you need to be good at customer-facing innovation. Sustainable business growth cannot happen without that. Your advantage over competitors would almost seem unfair: They’d be stuck at the typical new-product success rate of 25%, while you will delight customers with one superior new product after another.

From the time machine looking back from 20 years ahead, which of today’s practices would be recognised as obstacles to profitable, sustainable growth? Which would cause us to giggle at how long they went unchallenged? 

Here are six we could suggest:

 We test market needs by launching products at customers.

Companies like to talk about the voice of the customer but most use “voice of self”, creating product concepts in their own conference rooms. So, when does the average supplier understand whether its solution meets market needs? Only when it launches the produc

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