Saturday, August 21, 2010

Know Yourself, now that's obvious?

Successful businesses build on their strengths; they manage their risks and understand their limitations. To be sustainable and grow they must continuously discovery and apply productive knowledge. And to grow rapidly in a competitive market, businesses must use their capabilities and competencies to identify and commercialise novel business ideas.

A notable characteristic of those businesses that are successful at product and service development is their ability to learn from past challenges and build on past successes.

Nearly 2/3 of survey respondents in a study of new product practices stated the fit of a new product with internal strengths as the 2nd most important success factor… matching customer needs was cited as the most important” [ Source Kuczmarski, TD]

The key lesson for success is simple; “Know yourself”.
And a diagnostic audit provides that blueprint of internal strengths to accurately guide future product development and innovation. The business benefits are significant; using the limited available resources to generate higher returns and improved risk mitigation and tighter contingencies to achieve business growth, market differentiation and profitability.

But undertaking a diagnostic audit is not always straight forward or comfortable. Testing our limitations and impediments, or questioning familiar assumptions can be a difficult challenge:
  • Who should conduct the diagnostic audit when internal management has the best local knowledge but an outside consultant brings the broadest perspective and independence?
  • Is there a real willingness to find and examine that hard objective data from past development performance or are the facts all too complex or incomplete?
  • Will senior executives provide the sponsorship that’s necessary and then will they be open to the audit results and ready to act?
  • Can we actually afford to refine or recalibrate our business strengths so they better serve the needs of our product development and innovation practice?
The Diagnostic Audit services helps to identify, pinpoint and then exploit and capitalise on what you actually do best.

The typical diagnostic audit is a blend of qualitative and quantitative steps. It starts by quantifying past performance of innovation and product to market achievements, isolating underlying causes and the reasons for success or failure, mapping activity against risk profile, measuring costs and comparing planned against actual performance. Then the audit qualifies the selection, ranking & screening criteria for new innovations and considers the fit against capability and advantages. Finally the audit reviews processes, procedures and practices for any gaps and looking at commitment and cultural alignment. This completes the picture of those success factors and key areas that will drive better innovation outcomes for the business.

I hope this provides at least some small contribution to help the cause of better innovation.

I’m interested in feedback and views to help achieve better product development. Please contact me to share your views and thoughts.