What's the Big Idea?

| Product Lifecycle Management | Innovation Process Management | Product Portfolio Management
Posted By: Michelle Duerst


Making Idea Management as Simple as Child's Play

The odds are largely against the success of each new product launch, with a 85% failure rate.[1]  Nielsen defined the “successes” as having all three:

  • Distinctiveness- New product not an “improvement”
  • Relevance/Profitability- Must earn $50 million in the first year
  • Endurance- Second year sales must achieve 90% of year one sales


Why aren’t more companies succeeding?

Success or failure is largely determined at the initial stage of New Product Development and Introduction (NPDI). 

Harvard Business Review states, “Numerous factors can cause new products to fail... The biggest problem we’ve encountered is lack of preparation: Companies are so focused on designing and manufacturing new products that they postpone the hard work of getting ready to market them until too late in the game.”[2]

How can you properly define a concept for success?

Concepts can essentially be created by answering the following questions:

  • What the product will be?
  • Why it is needed?
  • Who will buy it?
  • Where they live?
  • How it will be made?
  • How it will comply with regulatory legislations?

5 Steps to Your Big Idea

1.  Plan the End Game

Before beginning anything else, plan what the end goals are and how it will impact the product launch and your long term corporate goals.  Most notably, you will need to define thresholds, constraints, and preferred status.  

These end goals will help you define what is needed to efficiently collect and score newly submitted ideas. 

  • Acceptable Cost/ Profitability ratio
  • Intended buyer
  • Projected markets
  • Corporate guidelines (ex: sustainability, fair trade, all organic product lines)
  • Regulatory compliance required for distribution and sale
  • Supply chain and resource requirements

2.  Scoring Model

Your Subject Business Matter Experts (SBME) can help you define other key factors to assess viability, profitability, and alignment with corporate goals.  By utilizing a scoring model, you can eliminate an avalanche in your inbox.  

 With your defined criteria, you can determine which of the pre-defined goals need to be set internally vs. externally.  For example, the specific regulations and all intended markets are better left to your regulatory and marketing teams. 

As you define your goals, you will also need to assess constraints (range of minimum/maximum) for viability of the new product.  Once defined, you can create a scoring model to pre-qualify ideas for a more critical review. 

3. Universal Suggestion Box

Use technology to create a universal Suggestion Box to collect ideas.  Create a wizard-like interface that allows you to define what criteria you need to move forward, but present it in an easily accessible interface that can extend your think tank from the traditional team members to those who know your product best (sales, customers, vendors, partners, distributors).

  • Web-based access
  • Open to employees, customers, suppliers
  • Simple interface
  • Standardized criteria

4.  Approvals

Review “qualified” approvals through a defined process, that continually tracks, escalates, and notifies.  These internal experts will also determine more critical and granular details for the product. These details will be used as the foundation for your product requirements.

  • Define workflow process for new product idea and approvals
  • Designate team members to review processes
  • Track multiple submissions for similar ideas

5.  Track and Analyze

Without proper progress status and notifications, ideas can seem like they’ve been submitted into a black hole.  Not only can it be frustrating for the authors, but it can place a significant drain on resources as they are consistently inundated with requests for status updates. 

  • Notify reviewers when new ideas have been submitted and qualified
  • Notify idea authors of the concept status
  • Track the idea from concept through development and launch
  • Analyze success with clear markers on submitted ideas, all metrics on the development and commercialization as well as actual market performance

[1]  Source:  Nielsen "How To Flip 85 Misses to 85 Hits"  By Rob Wengel, SVP, Innovation and Taddy Hall, SVP, Breakthrough Innovation Project, Nielsen

[2]  Source:  Harvard Business Review, “Why Most Product Launches Failby Joan Schneider and Julie Hall

Read More: