Product Line Innovation
Look over a few articles on innovation. Ask yourself if they’re about innovating one product at a time, or do they suggest innovating multiple products? Do they propose innovating entire product lines?
This is important because innovating product lines is far more powerful in the real world than conjuring up a single product.
It’s time to think much bigger. It’s time to switch to product line innovation and move beyond the old-school single product view. Single product innovation is a thing of the past.
To some, this sounds trivial. But it’s not. The product development world has always focused on innovating just one product at a time. There’s little written about how to innovate complete product lines. If you don’t believe me, just check for yourself. Google it. Call your local consultant. Or contact a business school professor. Show me the expert who says you should focus on “product line innovation,” not just single product innovation.
Powerful Product Lines
The insight that product lines can gain much more from higher-level innovation suggests a great opportunity for most companies. All you need to do is think big. Innovate the entire product line, not just a single product. But you’ll find this advice helpful only if you know how to think about product lines and how to use innovation to advance them.
The key is to know what makes product lines so powerful. It’s rooted in strategy, not just creative thought. Once you see what separates an excellent strategy from a poor one, you’ll also see how to innovate product lines. But trust me, it’s not just thinking creatively or spotting genius technologies. Both are important, but they’re not enough.
So how do you innovate product lines? Three innovation types matter. Innovating platform-levers is the first. The second is to encourage genius in attribute-positioning. And chain-link innovation is the third. Going big happens when you combine all three. Let’s have a look.
Consider how platform-levers can give a product line a tremendous boost. They enable faster development times across multiple products. Plus, platform-levers deliver greater performance at a lower cost for each product. The multi-product performance boost and cost-effectiveness combine as a powerful driver we can call leverage. This is a force that delivers more bang-for-your-buck than you get with one-off product innovations. It truly pushes a product line’s performance. And it’s why great platform-lever innovations can be genius and incredibly impactful.
Innovative attribute-positioning is genius too. This is about creating product features, and not just any features. These features are organized into sets, and the sets target uniquely defined market segments and work to stifle competition purposely. It’s not just about creating a single product with features that customers want. Doing so is fundamental in the innovation game.
Genius attribute positioning takes the job further. It’s about cornering or blocking off competition at the same time. And to do this, it uses the interplay across multiple products. It’s not about one-off product development. Smart segmentation coupled to genius attribute-positioning is a powerful force within any product line. It’s because it satisfies customers while confounding competitors.
Then there’s chain-link innovation. This is when each function is one link in a business strategy chain. And when companies innovate how the links interconnect, it can be a significant game-changer, especially for product lines. Chain-link innovation is often beyond genius. Why? Because there’s no way for one person to pull it off. It demands a team effort in both thinking and execution, and the team must represent interests and orientations that cut across the organization.
Those involved in digital transformations know chain-link innovation. But they probably don’t think about it as a genius product line move. It becomes genius only when it transforms the entire product line strategy.
Powerful product lines come from combining the three innovation types in a continuous flow. Sometimes the innovations are incremental; other times, they’re radical. Pushing the flow and smartly innovating the combination is absolute genius at its best. It’s innovation based in strategy.
Think Strategy to Innovate
The first step in product line innovation is to learn what makes a good product line strategy. It’s to learn about platform-levers, attribute positioning, and chain-link advancements. And it’s to learn how product lines are complete business systems, not just a set of products tagged together. The big innovation game is about entire product lines, not creatively crafting a single new product. And a good product line strategy is not just a sum of single-product strategies. There’s much more to it.
To learn more about innovating entire product lines and product line strategy please consider several Adept Group venues.