Posts Tagged ‘Strategy’

Do We Have Too Many Ideas To Be Innovative?

May 17th, 2011

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?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

6 Tips That Make Product Development Work

April 19th, 2011

Deer Hand Puppet ~ 2 of 6 photosphoto © 2010 Mary Anne Enriquez | more info (via: Wylio)
Any product introduction is only as successful as the planning and execution of the various stages prior to introduction. Consider these six tips for your next product development project.

1. Define what success looks like.

What metrics like sales, profit, market share, image in the marketplace will “prove” success?

2. Incentivize your product launch team.

The team needs to be properly motivated to succeed. Agree on techniques and processes that reward team members for breaking down traditional silos and bureaucracy that can hold back projects.

3. Team leaders need to lead, not be the most knowledgeable about products or technology.

Making your top sales representative the Sales Manager often does not work out because the skill sets are different.  The same is true with leading teams.  Appoint the leader who can manage people and process.

4. Agree early on about product positioning and targeting.

A great technique is to create a one-page talking points sheet.  Have each team member draft one.  Package all of them together and share them with the team.  Look for points of disagreement.  Discuss why they exist.  Solve them and move forward.

5. Have a detailed project plan and launch schedule.

Use whatever program or method that works for you to develop, track and share the plan.  Hold all parties responsible for their tasks and flag them when they fall behind.  Celebrate milestones together.

6. Plan for contingencies.

Stuff happens.  There might be regulatory, legal, manufacturing, shipping or many other types of delays.  Contingency plan for each of them.

The Takeaway

Successful product development requires planning, perseverance, and leadership.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Those are the ideas.  What do you think?  Please comment below.

1.      What other tips and tricks do you have for successful product development?

2.      What would you add or change about the points above?

3.      What characteristics are displayed by a successful product development leader?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Questions To Ask During A Non-Profit SWOT

April 12th, 2011

VV SWOT small 96 dpiphoto © 2011 pa.toon | more info (via: Wylio)
Non-profits have many of the same challenges as for profit organizations.  In addition, they face unique circumstances because of their reliance on government, foundation and private funding.  A great technique to look at the health of the non-profit is using SWOT Analysis. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  The goal is to examine internal (Strengths & Weaknesses) and external (Opportunities and Threats) elements of an entity.  If there are different divisions or parts of the non-profit providing services, the SWOT Analysis can be defined more or less narrowly, as necessary. Here are questions to start you on the exercise.


1) Do you have a deep, experienced, engaged Board of Directors?

2) What are your assets?

3) Which asset is strongest?

4) What differentiates you from others that provide similar services?

5) Do you have immensely talented people on your staff?

6) Are you debt free or have a debt structure that is manageable from cash flow?

7) What unique resources do you have?

8 Do you have a sustainable competitive advantage?

9) Do you have specific expertise that others do not have?

10) What unique funding sources do you have?

11) Is your senior management team backed by a strong bench?


1) What areas do you need to improve on?

2) What necessary expertise/manpower do you currently lack?

3) In what areas do other non-profits have an edge?

4) Are you relying on one funding source too much?

5) Do you have adequate cash flow to sustain you?

6) Are you balancing your budget and putting away for a rainy day?

7) Do you have a well of new ideas?

8  Are you over leveraged (too much debt)?

9) Is your mission overly broad?

10) Are your financials audited and monitored beyond the Executive Director and CFO?


1) What external changes present interesting opportunities?

2) What trends might impact your services?

3) Is another non-profit providing services in an adjacent space that you can team up with?

4) Is there another non-profit you could acquire or merge with to increase your size and stability?

5) Is there an unmet need/want that you can fulfill?

6) Are there trends emerging that you can profitably service?

7) Can you convert from single year to multi-year funding?

8 Can you take advantage of the historically low interest rates to refinance your debt?

9) Can you geographically expand your footprint?

10) Can you identify new funding sources?


1) What if your top funders don’t continue funding in the future?

2) Is there an entity that may move into your space and offer the same or similar services?

3) Are your key staff satisfied in their work? Could they be poached by another non-profit or for profit organization?

4) What if you are sued?

5) Do you have to rely on third parties for critical steps in your process that could possibly derail your delivery schedule?

6) What if your website is hacked?

7)  What if there is a natural disaster?

The Takeaway:

Non-profits need to use techniques like SWOT to analyze their environment and risks to meeting the needs of their clients.

Those are the ideas.  What do you have to add?  Please comment below.

1.      What other questions would you add to the list?

2.      Has your non-profit ever used SWOT? What was the result?

3.      Will you change your approach given the list of questions to use during your next SWOT?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Why You Should Use SMART Goals

April 5th, 2011

SMARTphoto © 2010 pshegubj | more info (via: Wylio)
Setting SMART Goals provides us with the best chance of achieving those goals.  SMART is an acronym for (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely).


If we are not very clear about what we are seeking to achieve, then how can we achieve it? Be explicit what success looks like so we know when we achieve it.


The old saying that you can’t manage what you can’t measure is true.  A reliable set of metrics allows us to see progress and measure how we are progressing along the way.  Are we red, yellow or green in the condition?


Lofty goals are aspirational.  Most of us do better with more concrete, tangible goals.  Give your employees a chance to actually achieve the goals you set for them.


Most sports teams do not go from “worst to first” in one year.  So too, with your position in the marketplace.  Set reasonable, realistic goals along the path you want to travel.  If the employees feel that your firm is on a journey versus a mad, desperate dash, then they will be more invested in the results.


Of course, objective results should have timeframes associated with them.  Make those mileposts as soon as realistic, but not so early that you stretch the organization to the breaking point.  Missing opportunities need to be balanced against the opportunity cost.

The Takeaway

SMART Goals consider the needs of the organization. They create the best prospect for success.

That’s the lowdown.  Over to you.  Please comment below.

1.      Do you use SMART Goals?  Why?

2.      What has been your experience with SMART Goals?

3.      What is the goal setting process in your organization?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.


Product Development: 9 Critical Lessons Learned

March 29th, 2011

The Sterland Product Development Gangphoto © 2005 Ben and Kaz Askins | more info (via: Wylio)
We should periodically step back and look at some of the lessons learned during our careers.  Every post that I write includes a “Takeaway” or lesson learned. I always include the Takeaway to provide a bit of advice boiled down to one or two sentences. Here are 9 lessons I learned about Product Development.

Intellectual Discipline in Product Development

Product Development is important to the whole organization.  It is an intellectual discipline that innovates and renovates products and services that are the lifeblood of companies. Full article here.

Naming Innovative New Products

Breakthrough products or categories are hard to define for the audience.  A descriptive name can break through to potential purchasers. Full article here.

Why Are New Products Launched –To Succeed or Fail?

Marketers must strive to utilize our precious resources: people, time and capital.  Opportunity costs are indeed high when a new product fails. Full article here.

Why Are New Products Launched –3 Correct Reasons?

Product Development that is driven by solid analysis coupled with considered ideas and opportunities has a higher opportunity for success. Full article here.

Why Are New Products Launched –The External Reasons?

Taking action to steer clear of faulty reasons for developing new products will assist you and your firm in having a higher success rate in business-to-business new product introductions. Full article here.

Why Are New Products Launched  –The Internal Reasons?

To get the full picture, we must examine the foundations of why we launch new products and eliminate those approaches, which by their nature, are most likely to lead to failure. Full article here.

Take Product Add Service:  Result is More Profit

Margins are increased when purchasers value their convenience and efficacy of the product versus the competition. Full article here.

No Matter What You Call Them They Taste Great

Adroit business people will spot trends early on or identify products or services that can be the start of a trend.  Acai and Pomegranate are two recent food trends that immediately come to mind. Full article here.

Pricing’s Role in Product Development

A customer-in approach to pricing allows a more accurate cost model and attaining the desired profit margin. Full article here.

The Takeaway

Product Development is an ever-evolving discipline that requires us to look at our successes and failures to improve the new products and services that we develop.

Those are the lessons learned.  How about you?  Please comment below.

1.      What other lessons learned can you add to the list?

2.      Do you periodically step back and consider the lessons you have learned in your career?

3.      Would you change any of the lessons above?  If yes, why?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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