Leading a team to create a breakthrough product or service? Common thinking is that you need to be a large organization with deep pockets and abundant resources in order to bring anything viable to market. Looking at the Consumer Packaged Goods industry for a moment you’ll find this isn’t the case as trusted environments and behavior matter above all else. People in roles of leadership promote learning and support others to take creative risk. They encourage the use of ‘cross-functional’ people and external contractors in order to innovate. Importantly they have access to technology to support new product development. In a study by Affinova and Nielsen, two critical success factors are instrumental in creating breakthrough products;
1. Consumer Insight
Increasing your thinking power
As noted by Nielsen, ideas generated by teams consisting of more than three people have a 156% increase in appeal with consumers within the Consumer Packaged Goods vertical.
Leveraging Team Diversity
Leading innovators employ a process that capitalizes on diversity across the organization. People with alternative roles, responsibilities and perspectives (augmented by age) provide an effective platform for breakthrough ideas.
Honesty fosters open thinking
Providing an environment that encouraged sharing, transparency and accessibility are all factors that assisted top performers achieving above the fray when designing breakthrough products. Trust must be entrenched from the top and woven into the way the organization executes on strategy. New senior hires must be encouraged to challenge thinking and propose new methods and approaches in order to demonstrate their thinking and ideas.
Sales people are instrumental in developing your Minimum Viable Product
Most of us would expect a leading innovation team to be dominated by individuals from R&D, Marketing, Market Research and Big Data. However, perhaps one of the more valuable insights from the study was those innovation teams that had sales representatives involved were amongst the top performers in the generation of break through products. And why isn’t this obvious? Those selling on the frontline for the organization command a unique perspective that others can’t necessarily identify. When sales people were involved with the strategy, concept, design and pricing phases of the process, the team collectively delivered a more relevant and differentiated product.
Invest in the tools for collaboration
Collaboration technologies can springboard your product and service innovation efforts. Employing instant messaging as a tool to gauge feedback and encourage participation is a good first step in fostering stakeholder engagement and alignment. Creating workspaces on an Intranet or Enterprise Social Network enables innovation teams to communicate, share progress, ideas, upload content (documents, images, videos) and links. Workspaces can be secure and allow team members to build environments of trust and freethinking.