How do you create a final product that stands out from the similar run-of-the-mill products that are already saturating the marketplace? And if you have a novel idea for a product, how can you ensure that your idea translates into a unique and innovative product?
In a word, the answer is innovation; Innovation in your product ideation and development. Employing a continuous policy to keep innovating your product as it develops will help you put forward the best offering you can come up with. This in turn, increases the likelihood of your target audience welcoming your product with open arms once it is launched.
It’s important to consider the possibility that your competitors are working on the very same product that you are, and there’s a chance that they’re currently doing it better than you.
Due to that reason, continuous innovation is important to launch a final product that everyone wants to get a piece of. It’s okay to start out with a simple idea and end up with a completely different one as your product development progresses, as long as it adds more value and desirability to your final launched product.
There are several stages that make up the product development cycle such as ideation, planning, prototype development, and quality assurance testing. You need to be open to the idea that each of these stages is a potential turning point for your final product; that is, your product should not stop evolving after the ideation process.
Of course, you must stay true to your original idea and focus on improving it rather than changing it as the project progresses. If you start out to make toast, it’s great if your toast evolves into French toast topped with freshly cut fruits. It’s not so great if your toast turns into the salad right before breakfast is served.
So, make sure that the strategies you use to innovate your product development serve to improve your original idea rather than come up with a new one altogether towards the end of your project completion phase.
There are many ways to keep your product development process innovative and flexible. And we’re not kidding when we say it takes a village! Your team should be as involved with the innovative product development process as you are in order for your project to be a success. We’ve compiled a list of the best strategies you can use to optimize the innovation in your product development process.
Table of Contents
- Get Yourself an A-Team
- Set Up a Great Working Environment
- Hold Daily Morning Scrums
- Organise Brainstorming Sessions
- Be Open to Change
- Teach Your Team to Celebrate Mistakes
- Involve All Stakeholders
- Work Out a Roadmap Before You Start
- Stay Agile and Stick to Deadlines
- Include Your End Users in the Development Process
- Evaluate Your Innovation Efforts
Get Yourself an A-Team
You need an A-Team, and we’re not talking about the movie! Put together a team of highly skilled individuals with expertise in the different stages of the product development cycle to work with you on your product. Ensure each team member is unique in nature, as this will bring more thinking styles to your development process.
Having access to a diverse talent pool widens your team’s scope for innovative thinking in general, as everyone will have unique ideas and perspectives.
While hiring, you need to focus on more than just good grades. While academic proficiency is an important prerequisite, it is not the only one. You also need individuals who are creative in nature and can think outside the box when required. The creative thinking that these talented individuals bring can be nurtured to enhance the overall innovative mindset of your team.
Set Up a Great Working Environment
Once you have your elite team of skilled professionals, you need to make sure that the working environment you have fashioned for them is conducive to learning and innovation. We tend to be more productive when surrounded by equally motivated individuals in a workspace that is happy and healthy. In fact, the tone you set for your workspace can define the general mindset of your team.
Encourage communication in the workplace and facilitate the sharing of new ideas between team members. You never know when inspiration will strike! The idea for a new innovative feature for your product might be born over a steaming cup of coffee, surrounded by laughter. With a happy and driven workforce and an environment that encourages creativity, your chances of innovative breakthroughs are more.
Hold Daily Morning Scrums
Kick start each day on the right note with a morning scrum that involves all the major stakeholders in your project. After a quick review of the progress updates, you can help each other out in planning a productive day that is optimized for innovation.
How far have you come in the project development cycle? What are the major challenges you face? What are the innovative solutions you can think of to overcome said challenges?
Daily scrums also instill a sense of accountability in your teammates. When the project progress is transparently discussed in front of all stakeholders, it motivates everyone present to put their best foot forward. This collective sense of accountability will help your team work better and faster together.
Keep in mind the 7 Startup Challenges to Avoid When Scaling Your Business.
Organise Brainstorming Sessions
Nothing gets the creative and innovative juices flowing quite like an impromptu no-holds-barred brainstorming session. Arrange opportunities where your teammates can put forth their unique and innovative ideas for your product, and let it be a safe space without barriers or criticism of any kind. Anyone can say anything and not be judged in the least.
People tend to undermine themselves and hold back ideas, fearing ridicule. You might have missed out on a great new way to innovate your product simply because one of your teammates was too embarrassed to put the idea up for discussion on a common platform.
Let your teammates know that you’re working under the assumption that no idea is too small and no suggestion is too stupid.
Be Open to Change
There is no point in trying to innovate if you’re not willing to accept changes. Your product has to change from the initial concept in order to evolve to the best version it can be. And you need to come to terms with the fact that your product might not be the only thing that changes as the product development process matures. Your working style might change, a few of your colleagues might change, and the snacks in your pantry will definitely keep changing.
Don’t be rigid if you don’t want to waste time getting stuck. You need to see every change as a new opportunity to innovate. Even your business model might change if you are open to exciting collaborations and innovative partnerships.
Suggested Read: 10 Tips For Successful Startup Product Development.
Teach Your Team to Celebrate Mistakes
Now, this might sound like a weird one. Why would anyone want to celebrate mistakes as opposed to rectifying them as quickly as possible and moving on? Mistakes are to be forgotten, not dissected for further examination, right?
In order to bring innovation to your product, you need to see each mistake as a stepping stone to success and analyse what went wrong and where before rectifying it. Dissecting a failure to its most visceral state will help you learn from it and avoid making the same mistake in the future. So, make sure your team knows that it is okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from each one, instead of initiating hasty fixes.
For more check out the beginner’s guide to why startups fail and how to make them successful.
Involve All Stakeholders
Another way of improving innovation in your product development journey is to involve all stakeholders in the creative discussions and processes. This can even be some entity you’re outsourcing to. Remember that everyone’s brains work differently and they may have something important to contribute, if only given the chance.
Make sure all your stakeholders feel involved and comfortable by facilitating good communication among them. You never know who might have a eureka moment and never get the chance to share it with the team, so let all your stakeholders be heard individually.
Work Out a Roadmap Before You Start
Plan your journey before you embark on it so that you can be prepared to face any obstacles with ease. Planning helps you leave buffer room to engineer innovations into your product’s final look as and when your journey progresses. Think of the vacation you would take after toiling straight without a break for a couple of years.
You would do your research and make an itinerary that covers all the places you want to visit, and leave room in your planning to accommodate the new things you stumble across while on your trip. Now, think of these new things as the innovations you can stumble across in terms of your product development journey.
It would be a pity to have to forgo a brilliant new innovative addition to your product simply because you did not plan well enough to leave room for improvement.
Stay Agile and Stick to Deadlines
Remember to stay agile in all respects while developing your product. Most product development teams prefer to work in an agile fashion instead of the conventional waterfall method that hampers productivity.
Your working methodology should give you room to manoeuvre new innovations without disrupting the flow of the development process. This will also make it easier to stick to deadlines even when new tasks come up.
It is not wise to wait till the last minute to track your project progress and add new features. Continuous assessment and feedback mechanisms will help you incorporate improvements for your products in a timely manner, so that your final product will be a combination of the best creative inputs your team can provide.
Include Your End Users in the Development Process
Listen to your customer, as they are always right. At the end of the day, you are building a product that your customer will want to buy without second thoughts. Your product should not make your users hold increasingly confusing internal debates about whether or not they should purchase it. This means you need to think like your end-user and understand what makes them tick.
You can make your end users a part of your product development journey by engaging with them through surveys and questionnaires. The data thus collected can give you valuable insights into the current consumer trends in your marketplace and tweak your product with innovations that appeal to your target audience.
Finally, Don’t Forget to Evaluate Your Innovation Efforts
You set out to innovate your product to its optimal version. In the hustle and bustle of the million and one tasks that are part of the product development process, don’t let innovation take a back seat.
Keep reminding your team to be actively involved in bringing innovations to the product and make continuous efforts to ensure that you’re on the right reactive track.
Bear in mind that while innovation is a great thing, it cannot be forced. Sometimes, your efforts at optimising innovation in your product development might not be as successful as you would have hoped.
Taking the time to evaluate your efforts will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses and take corrective measures to fix your weak links.
Product innovation is a journey in itself and must happen at its own pace. However, if you manage to keep these simple strategies in mind while developing your product, you can rest assured that your product will be exposed to the innovations that your best and brightest can offer. You can also join forces with an established company like NeoITO who will take over the entire product innovation process while you sit back and concentrate on growing your business.