Product Innovation Management and the burning questions

With an ever growing ability to bring new products to market at record-breaking speeds, product and marketing managers are struggling with these questions: How can we create innovative products that trump the competition and exceed customer expectations? How can we manage the product innovation process so that new ideas, products and services are brought to market profitably? What innovations do we need to make to the product development process?

During this week’s session of #innochat on Twitter, we discussed different ways to ‘innovate’—change and improve—the innovation process. Many great ideas were shared, and from the core of our discussion emerged a fundamental theme: collaboration between a wide array of stakeholders is the key to successful and sustained product innovation management.

Product Innovation Management and Collaboration

Product development teams are no longer bounded by the walls of their respective departments or areas of expertise. In today’s networked organizations, cross product innovation managementfunctional, multi-skilled teams are spread across distances and geographical locations. The members of these virtual worldwide teams have different backgrounds, perspectives, opinions, expertise and authority levels. Naturally this reality creates new challenges for organizations to discover more effective ways of bringing people from inside and outside the organization to work collaboratively on learning, changing and creating new products and processes. Collaboration starts with the desire to learn and improve and progresses with the building of trust and respect. Innovation at any level cannot achieve substantial results without this collaboration mindset and strategy.

The first step is to establish an enterprise strategy that supports a collaborative model of product innovation. Henry Chesbrough, professor at the Haas Business School, UC Berkeley, clearly highlights this notion in his recent article “Management innovations for the future of innovation”, in which he discusses the concept of collaboration as an innovative product strategy. Innovation has always been about creating new and improving existing products. Moving forward, innovation is also about changing the product development process. Chesbrough believes innovation will evolve into “a more iterative, interactive process” that will include the close collaboration of stakeholders inside and outside the organization, as participants “work together to create new innovations.”

Product innovation management includes improving the very process with which products are created, produced, launched and delivered to a dynamic marketplace. To do this successfully, organizations need to have a business model in place that promotes collaboration, essentially communication with and participation of business partners, customers and employees.

Share your thoughts with the innovation community: How does collaboration fit into your organizational product innovation management strategy?

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