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Workgroup report: When is the right time to launch a new product or service?

Mid-sized businesses need system to both generate and evaluate new product or service ideas.  It’s that or (boring analogy) get replaced, never launch or blow up before gaining escape trajectory.

Topic question: When is the right time to launch a new product or service?  

After sharing stories of success and failure of new products (including marketing a hospital lab’s spare capacity to local veterinarians), The Center’s Workgroup #2 brought this best practice up to date. 

Participants:  Dr. Phil Kim, Carolyn Cretina, Susan Dineen, Bill Mitchell, Derrick Van Mell, Bob DeVita

Discussion questions

  • How can small and mid-sized organizations bring system to product development?
  • When can a product or service be modified—and when does it have to be replaced?
  • How do you evaluate an idea?

Key ideas

Generating new ideas:  You’re not Steve Jobs

  • Don’t launch a new product or service just because one “one-off” worked
  • Don’t launch just because you find it interesting
  • Listen to your customers: Ask them what else they want, how they want it
  • Don’t listen to your customers:  Observe what they do, not just what they say
  • Ask the right people:  Listen most to those who actually buy
  • Track the trends in the economy, your sector and your market
  • Get at the behaviors:  look for ethnographic studies
  • Look for “improbable pairs,” i.e., how combining different things is really cool
  • Listen to your hunches:  All good ideas start with hunches
  • Don’t listen to your hunches:  All bad ideas start with hunches, so do your homework

Evaluating new ideas

  • Have a checklist, i.e., a process for evaluating new product or service ideas
  • Get diverse people and perspectives to weigh in
  • Get ready to have to change your whole business
  • The enemy gets a vote:  run The Competitor Grid in The GMs Toolkit
  • It’s going to be risky:  What’s your organization’s overall risk preference?
  • Run a Cost/Benefit Analysis, also in The GMs Toolkit
  • How to decide?  A mix of analysis and intuition—like any other decision
  • Don’t wait too long, or you’ll lose your idea or lead position

Implementing new ideas

  • It won’t succeed just because it’s popular
  • Consider every management discipline (see Level 1 of The GMs Index)
  • Most staff won’t want to change
  • Most customer won’t want to change
  • Measure your runway:  accept that profitability might be years away

Next topics

  • How to get internal buy-in of a big idea?
  • What will the post-COVID “normal” be like?

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The Center for Management Terms & Practices is the standards body for general management. We help managers and executives work cross-functionally because success requires everyone working together. See The GMs Index and The GMs Toolkit for the standard terms, tools and best practices.

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