Big companies struggle with innovation, and there are several examples of this. For instance, in the 1970s, Gerber attempted to penetrate the adult food market by re-labeling existing pureed products, instead of developing a new line with a unique distribution strategy.
Similarly, Pizza Hut’s “Flavors of Now” campaign failed to drive sales. It is not just big companies that struggle, though.
Many entrepreneurs strike gold with their first line of products but struggle to expand.
However, companies that consistently get product innovation right have specific factors and resources in place to encourage free thinking.
One of the factors that can help improve product innovation is having the right partner to bring an idea from a rough concept to a full design. So, here are some ways to improve product innovation in your business.
Fear of failure hinders risk-taking and innovation. Only 18% of U.S. employees feel they can take risks that lead to new products, services, or solutions.
The remaining 82% cannot take entrepreneurial action, impeding innovation agendas. Encouraging innovation involves embracing the idea that there are no bad ideas.
McKinsey recommends taking it further and encouraging impractical ideas during scenario planning. These ideas can lead to actionable and innovative solutions, like those from NASA’s research.
Working in the same routine every day makes it difficult to think creatively. Companies that fail to make time and space for product innovation risk running their business as usual.
However, there are ways to encourage innovation, such as holding a hackathon, which Harvard Business Review suggests companies use to stir up new ideas on various topics. It is important to involve members from all teams in the company, not just the product or tech team.
Some companies choose a particular topic to inspire innovation, while others allow employees to work on passion projects during company time.
For instance, Google invests in its employees by offering training, workshops, and professional development, using the 70/30/10 model. By dedicating 10% of their projects to ideas unrelated to their core business.
Google’s employees are happier and more engaged with their work, and this often leads to insights, inventions, or innovations that impact the brand’s bigger goals.
To spark a new idea, it can be helpful to get an outsider’s perspective. One option is to find a partner who can take your initial designs to the next level and advise on manufacturing feasibility, budget, sustainability, and import/export.
Another source of outside help is your customers. Ask for their input on what products to develop next through social media or by inviting them to an exclusive event for feedback.
Alternatively, you can mine customer data for insights into buying patterns and market trends. Trend watchers like Mintel can also help you innovate based on data from your target audience.