Do We Have Too Many Ideas To Be Innovative?

May 17th, 2011 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

ideasphoto © 2010 Sean MacEntee | more info (via: Wylio)
Consider this quote about ideas, product development and innovation.  “It’s also important to wipe out the myth that successful new product development comes from a flurry of creative idea generation from the R&D labs.  New ideas are a dime a dozen; the challenge is to shape them into concepts and nurture them into new products with a competitive advantage.”

I saw the quote in an article in the Marketing News.  What year to you think the quote is from?  2011? 2010? No, 1990.

Thomas Kuczmarski wrote those words in an article entitled Shame on America for Bogging Down Innovation.

Two key ideas he brings forth:

1)      Ideas need to be shaped into concepts and nurtured into new products.

We need to work the ideas into more fully formed concepts.  Those concepts need to be thought through, tested, adjusted, tested, adjusted, tested as many times as necessary to create something new and different.

2)      Competitive Advantage

Creating or “copying” someone else’s products or services cannot create a competitive advantage.  Without a competitive advantage the competition will catch up or surpass you.

Crocs Versus UGGs

Consider Crocs shoes.  Everyone and his brother have created knockoffs.  We can purchase a pair in CVS for less than $10.  Contrast that with UGG boots.  There are knockoffs.  However, on the back there is a really big “UGG” that can’t be copied.  The other day, every girl I saw had on boots.  Each one was UGGs.

R&D Will Solve It All

Kuczmarski also went on to deflate the “R&D will solve it all” bubble.  He said, “Moreover, R&D often is the victim of overly optimistic expectations.  At most companies, R&D dollars are being funneled into finding ways to lower costs or improve efficiency of existing products, rather than discovering new inventions and technology that can lead to innovative new products.”

We need to truly perform both Research and Development.  Focusing on implementing Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing is looking to maximize profits today.  Rather, creating new products and services that will power our businesses for the next decade should be the goal.

The Takeaway

Product Development is a multi-step process that goes well beyond brainstorming or ideating.  Focus on creating products and services that offer a competitive advantage to your firm.

Old ideas or new ideas?  What to you think?  Please comment below.

1)      Do you have a well-developed product development process?

2)      Do you agree with Kuczmarski’s point of view?

3)      Where do you find your ideas for Product Development?

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  1. Great blog, Rob! One other thing that has been strangling innovation is companies not wanting to take the risk that comes with the cost of innovation, especially when it comes to developing new products for launch. Too many are playing it safe, just adding a new feature or new colors to what they already have and know.

    • Rob Berman says:


      I agree with you about innovation. We need to recognize like Apple did with Steve Jobs that customers do not always know what they want or need?


  2. Yes. Simplest example is having too much clothes. And women declares they have nothing to wear. (Might just be a problem for women though. LOL!). It’s a matter of making a decision, actually. Most often than not, people find it hard to narrow down the choices of what suites them best.

  3. mercy says:

    The invention field is largely wide, but if you don’t again have something to invent, then it is not the right place for you, for you cannot reinvent the already existing.

  4. John Wilson says:

    You probably have to be innovative but if you can’t get to the production stage as a lot of inventive people you won’t go very far.

    • Rob Berman says:


      I agree that you need to be able to produce upon that great idea. That is why many entrepreneurs team up with others to bring their idea to the market.


  5. Jill Tooley says:

    Great points, Rob! I guess I’ve never really thought about all of the R&D money that’s pumped into existing products/services as opposed to brand spankin’ new ones, but you’re right. Perhaps companies are sticking with the familiar, proven product because they feel it’s a safer bet. This could be both positive and negative for the real innovators…on one hand, others’ lack of innovation leaves more ideas but on the other hand, it could mean more opposition when actually marketing the new product because it’s something unfamiliar. Interesting…

    • Rob Berman says:


      You are correct that there are two sides to the discussion. I think that those who keep innovating stand a better chance of surviving and prospering.


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