The process can be completed in less than 30 days. For managers uninterested in rehashing shopworn ideas and tacking frivolous gimmicks on existing technology platforms it's the fastest way to identify legitimately innovative new product concepts. It's unquestionably the quickest way to develop big ideas that reflect both consumer and corporate-wide perspectives.
The process is conducted in a three-phase effort where members of the NPD team define potential prospects, usage parameters and pre-interview assignments to focus respondents...individually participate in depth interviews with prospective users who have been pre-programmed to focus on NPD team issues...then reconvene in a workshop in which they share insights and synthesize acquired information into consumer-relevant new product concepts.
Members of the NPD Team assume primary responsibility for generating "the next-big-thing" concepts. Polaris contribution to the effort is that of a coach / facilitator and creative resource whose primary responsibility is to introduce and conduct the process, recruit & pre-program consumer respondents, co-host the consumer in-depth interviews, assist individual team members in modeling / mapping insights produced in the interviews in which they participated and moderate the ideation workshop in which models, need matrices and new concepts are shared and improved.
Toyota design engineers ride shotgun for target prospects and informally probe observed behavior; Nike marketing and R&D managers interface with skateboarding mall rats to discuss the-next-big-thing in rad footgear. A list of potential applications for productively mixing consumers and NPD managers would be only slightly shorter than the Yellow Pages. Particularly since the need to meet ever shortening windows of opportunity means every manager needs the NPD concept yesterday. And it's that urgency that adds a new dimension of risk to an already perilous journey.
Because ideas are fuzzy abstractions whose value is difficult to measure, there is an inclination to go with two or three interesting ideas that have been lurking in the back of your mind for some time. It's a seductive -- and dangerous -- temptation. But shun that devil, brothers and sisters. Take the 30 days it takes to generate a full range spectrum of consumer-comes-first NPD options. It's critical. Because surveys show it takes more than a dozen legitimately high potential NPD concepts to produce one successful new product launch for package goods. Seven for producers of business-to-business products / services.
The way to shorten the ideation functions that drive the remainder of the NPD effort is to work together to shorten the conceptualization time -- not short cut the quantity of ideas. Or their quality.
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