What we sell is a critical “prime component” of business. To thrive, our products must perpetually improve and evolve. Competition rarely rests. Innovative product development propels the most successful companies. In the end, even well established brands, with world-class marketing and sales succumb eventually to dysfunctional, low quality, boring products. To survive, business must grow. To grow, products must evolve, innovate and multiply. The products developed must either compliment/extend a history or break new ground. They must seamlessly fit the customer’s needs, desires and aesthetic vision. They must do their work flawlessly with faultless reliability.
The Best Case Compromise
Successful product development creates by harmonizing numbers of diverse, usually conflicting elemental interests, into a best-case compromise. It studies the functions, ergonomics, aesthetic expectations and, ultimately, what the user wants, needs and likes. From these requirements a vision of the product is extracted. It then blends the best practice materials, technologies and processes to realize this vision. It desires the most profitable composite of variables like selling price versus the cost of manufacturing, production volumes, quality and the expertise and process capabilities of the available manufacturing base.
The Product Definition.
The first step to successful product development is defining just what it is you want to develop. There are as many ways to define product as there are companies defining them. Whichever method is employed, the more detailed and descriptive the definition, the more likely the process will run smoothly and cost less. The more diverse the input, the better the prospects are that the resulting product will in actuality fulfill the perceived need or desire. (It’s easier to sell something that clearly fulfills a need than a product that is looking for a need to fill.)
Product development generally follows one of two paths. The first is for product based on that which has come before and the second is for that which is partially or completely new. Evolutionary or improved versions of “that which came before” is less involved to develop as it is typically based on pre-existing core technologies and processes. Core functions may fundamentally be the same, but improvements in execution, quality, lower costs, better aesthetics, etc., can improve the product’s marketability. Partially or entirely new products may involve inventing and developing completely new technologies and manufacturing processes that can present their own special challenges.
Philosophy - Inside Out or Outside In?