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 whole product lines? This is important because innovating product lines is far more powerful than a single product.
It’s time to think much bigger. It’s time to switch to product ¬line innovation and move beyond the 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 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 single product innovation.
The insight that there’s more to be gained from product line innovation suggests a great opportunity for most companies. All you need to do is think big. Innovate at the product line level, not just at the single product level. This is true only if you know how to do product line innovation.
Powerful Product Lines
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 good strategies from poor, you’ll see how to innovate product lines. Trust me though; 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 and building blocks 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 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 extremely impactful.
Innovative attribute-positioning is genius too. This is about creating product features. Not just any product features. These feature sets target market segments and fend off competition. Innovative segmentation added to well-played product features is powerful.
Then there’s chain-link innovation. This is when functions other than product development innovate their approach to help the product line. Sometimes customers see the help as part of the product or service. It’s often beyond genius. Why? Because there’s no way for one person, by them self, to pull it off. It demands a team effort that cuts across an organization.
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 genius at its best. It’s innovation based in strategy.
Think Strategy to Innovate
The first step in product line innovation is learning what makes good product line strategy. Remember this is lines, not just a single product. Good product line strategies are not just a sum of single 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 of good product line strategies. Or, consider teaming with a colleague to attend my interactive workshop. You may find more information on the workshop at https://adept-plm.com/events/
Whitepaper– Good Product Line Strategy Matters. Here’s How to Create One.