Developing truly new products aimed at new customers and new markets is hard, but if your company wants consistent, top-line revenue growth, you must get good at it. This article - the first in a series of four - will illuminate the new product development challenge, giving you a deep understanding of what makes it so difficult. Follow-on articles will provide you with six practical keys to overcome these challenges. My firm extracted these keys from 15 years of new product development experience working on hundreds of projects at global manufacturing companies; they work because they make you better at three critical tasks: (1) asking the right questions at the right time during new product development, (2) minimizing your spend (in time and resources) on ideas that are unlikely to find market success, and (3) delivering the data decision-makers need to confidently make large investments in the best ideas.
The keys are, essentially, the “first principles” of new product development and will complement any product development process: this series will not recommend sweeping changes to your culture, the implementation of new stage gate steps, or anything else that is expensive, invasive or time consuming. Instead, the keys will work within your existing processes, acting as a philosophical and process overlay that will make what you already do function more effectively.