Go Beyond Single Product Innovation
Look over a few articles on innovation. Are they about innovating one product at a time or whole product lines? This is important because a product line has far more impact in business than does a single product.
It’s time to think much bigger. It’s time to push full product line innovation and move beyond the single product view. Focusing on a single product innovation, isolated from a product line, is a thing of the past.
Powerful Product Lines
You may think this insight is trivial, but it’s not. The product development world has always focused on innovating one product at a time. There’s little written about how to innovate whole product lines. Don’t believe me? Check for yourself. Google it. Call your local consultant. Or contact your business school professor. Show me the expert who says you should focus on “product line innovation,” not just a single product innovation.
The insight that there’s more to be gained from product line innovation suggests a great opportunity for most companies. But to realize these gains, you must learn how product line innovation is different.
The key is to know what makes product lines so powerful. It’s rooted in strategy tied to creativity. Once you recognize what separates good strategies from poor, you’ll see how to innovate product lines. Trust me, though. It’s not just being creative, experimenting, or failing fast. These are important, but they’re not enough.
Three Strategy-Innovation Types
So how do you innovate a product line? What makes it different than a single product innovation? It boils down to three strategy-innovation types that matter.
The first strategy-innovation type focuses on platform-levers and technologies. Its purpose is to create leverage for greater product performance and faster development. The second is to innovate each product’s attributes to drive the whole line, not each product separately. And the third strategy-innovation type cuts across functions. It seeks to align work and decisions and to enlarge results. Going big happens when you combine all three. Let’s look.
Consider platform-levers. These give product lines a strong boost. They help faster development times for each product, and they deliver greater performance at lower cost. It’s referred to as leverage. There’s much to platform-levers. Great innovations in platform-levers can be genius, and they can be impactful.
Great innovation also happens when the products in the line work in unison. One product feature set can boost the impact of another product. The goal is to satisfy customers and beat competition across the whole market, not just for one product in one niche at a time. The approach calls for teams to use customer, technology, and design insights to decide how best to divide the full market. And it calls for teams to use multiple product generations to speed design and delivery, and to control costs.
Then there’s chain-link innovation. This is when functions other than product development innovate purposely to help the product line. Sometimes customers see the help as part of the product or service. It’s often beyond genius. Why? Because one person can’t pull it off. It demands a team effort that cuts across an organization.
Powerful product lines come from combining the three innovation types. And when put into a continuous flow, the results can be sweeping. Pushing the flow and smartly innovating the combination is genius at work. It’s innovation based in strategy.
Use Strategy to Innovate
The first step in product line innovation is learning what makes a good product line strategy. Remember this approach is toward product lines, not a single product. Good product line strategies are not the sum of individual product strategies. There’s much more. And I invite you to learn this important topic.
I offer two venues. First, get my book The Profound Impact of Product Line Strategy. In it, I spell out the details product line strategies, sharing both the good and the bad. Or, consider teaming with a colleague to attend the Masterclass I teach. It’s an interactive and fast-paced day in which you learn the basics plus much more. You may find more information on the workshop at https://adept-plm.com/events/
Whitepaper– Good Product Line Strategy Matters.