We’d all like to be Steve Jobs when it comes to product innovation: creative, passionate and, let’s face it, a bit of a genius.
But in reality, we can’t all be so blessed. There’s a process to successful product innovation, which we know all about.
In this article, we’ll be guiding you through the best-kept secrets of product innovation.
1. Solve a Problem
Product innovation isn’t just coming up with an idea. It’s coming up with a new solution that solves a problem for a certain group of people.
Take Henry Ford of Ford Motors as an example. He was innovative in his work, creating the assembly line for mass-produced vehicles.
But what drove him was a desire to make vehicles affordable for the working class. So he solved a problem.
From there, more innovators solved more problems with vehicles, reducing gas consumption, increasing safety, and so on.
This is to say, the first secret of product innovation is figuring out what problem you’re solving.
2. Different Kinds of Product Innovation
There are two different processes to product innovation and we’ve actually given examples of both above.
Let’s start with disruptive product innovation. These are the game-changers. Henry Ford did this by introducing mass manufacturing to the automobile industry.
Other examples would include Netflix. They originally tried to compete with the likes of Blockbuster by mailing DVDs, before revolutionizing the game with subscription streaming. This type of product innovation solves such a problem that it revolutionizes the way customers do things.
For most companies though, product innovation is incremental, much like the example we used of mass-produced vehicles slowly being improved over decades.
We could also liken it to Apple products. While the first iPod and iPhone revolutionized the market, the iterations since are incremental product innovation. They solve problems, but they’re building on an initial innovation.
All this is to say, there’s no right or wrong way to do product innovation. But knowing whether you’re building on something or changing the world is important to the creative process.
3. Have the Right Team
In the introduction, we all said we’d love to be Steve Jobs. But no one seems to remember Tony Fadell, one of the many engineers who actually invented the iPod.
This isn’t to create a sob story for him; he’s doing great. Our point is, Steve Jobs didn’t do it alone. Yes, he had drive and passion, but he also had a great team.
For innovative product designs, you need a great team. No one man or woman can do it all. A good team usually has one “idea” person, and three other key components: a UI designer, UX designer, and a UX researcher.
That’s as a minimum. Great product design teams will also have content strategists, visual designers, information architects, and more. What we’re saying is, getting the right team is vital in the product innovation process.
4. It’s Not Just the Product
A great idea and a great product are just the basics. You also need to get the message out about how great your product is.
Again, we can look to Apple here as a great example. While the products are great, MP3 players existed long before the first iPod.
What Apple sold was a dream, an image, and an experience. They did this with incredible marketing and a great product. The secret to successful product innovation is both.
No company finds product innovation easy. Keep in mind it is all part of the creative process when things get tough and let your passion for the product guide you.
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