I am continuing my series on Design Thinking and talking with Michal Herzenstein, who contributed to writing “Optimal Design for Radically New Products” in the PDMA Essentials book titled “Design and Design Thinking”.
Michal is an associate professor of marketing at the University of Delaware and she earned her PhD in marketing from the University of Rochester.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Highlights from the discussion include…
- Michal defines radically new products as products that allow consumers to do something that they couldn’t have done before. They are products that create a shift in consumption – how consumers respond to and use products.
- Product innovation teams that wish to create radically new products can use six processes to help them. Large companies are better off implementing these 6 process in ascending order and focus on communicating the goal of achieving a breakthrough product to the innovating team. Smaller organizations and startups can pick any process that they feel will help them learn more about developing breakthrough ideas.
- Communicate the Challenge Goal Toward Radically New Products – Share the expectation of creating a “10x” product. A product that is a magnitude better than what is currently available requires breakthrough product concepts. At the same time, you want to create a culture within the organization, and especially within the product innovation team, that taking risks and failing is part of the learning that is necessary for new products.
- Shift Time Frames to Future and Past – To free the mind of the constraints of the present time and open your thinking to new possibilities, examine what could be possible in the future and how that impacts product concepts the team envisions. Science fiction stories are frequently good examples of shifting time frames, such as technology portrayed in Star Trek that is now a reality (e.g., communicator = flip phone).
- Promote an Emerging Technology Focus Across the Consumption Chain – Combine existing technologies with any step in the sequence of product consumption to create new solutions to current problems. This helps to generate ideas for radical solutions by using available technologies.
- Promote the Use of Analogical Thinking – Describe the true function and goal behind a product by comparing it to a more common item or idea – an analogy. It helps product innovation teams think about how they can import superior qualities from an existing product or service to address a different problem.
- Look for Novel Ways to Solve Simple Problems – Pay attention to the simple problems we face on an everyday basis and explore possible solutions to those problems, producing breakthrough ideas.
- Leverage More Ideators Via Crowdsourcing – Use crowdsourcing to motivate new ways of thinking. Companies can invite suggestions from outside of the organization to help generate ideas for breakthrough products. Sometimes innovation teams need someone from the outside to stimulate their thinking.
- Michal teaches at the University of Delaware
“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
Listen Now to the Interview
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.