Developing Innovative Products

Phase 0: Feasibility Analysis

The goal of this phase is to identify existing technology to achieve the intended high-level function. If technology can be purchased as opposed to developed, the scope of subsequent development phases changes.

Simply put, product development companies research and assess the probability that the current technology can be used to reach the intended functionality of the product. By doing this, the development efforts are reduced, which in financial terms represent a great reduction in development costs.

Moreover, if the technology is not yet available, then the assessment can result in longer development cycles and the focus moves into creating the new technology (if humanly possible) that can accomplish the functionality of the product.

This is an important part of the in any product development process because it is safer and financially responsible to understand the constraints that a product can have prior to starting a full development cycle. A feasibility study can cost between 7 -15 thousand dollars. It might be sound very expensive for some, but when it is much better than investing $100k+ to end up with a product that no manufacturer is able to produce.

Phase 1: Specification or PRD (Product Requirements Document) development

If your product is feasible, congratulations! you are a step closer to creating your product and you can move into documenting what is going to go into the product itself, aka the guts (product objective, core components, intended end-user, aesthetics, User interphase, etc).

In this phase, product design and engineering focus on documenting the critical functionality, constraints, and inputs to the design. This is a critical step to keep development focused, identify the high-risk areas, and ensure that scope creep is minimized later.

This document will help you communicate the key features of your product and how they are supposed to work to all members of your team. This will ensure that you keep everyone involved on the same page.

Without one, you are more likely to stay off track and miss deadlines. think about the PRD as your project management breakdown structure (BDS)

Phase 2: Concept Development

Initial shape development work identifies options for form, as well as possible approaches for complex mechanical engineering challenges. Initial flowchart of software/firmware also happens here, as well as concept design level user interface work. Aesthetic prototypes may be included in this Phase, if appropriate. Prototype in this phase will not typically be functional.

Phase 3: Initial Design and Engineering

Based on decisions made at the end a concept development phase, actual product design and engineering programming can start. In this phase, Level 1 prototypes are often used to test approaches to technical challenges.

Phase 4: Design Iteration

This part of the project is where we focus on rapid cycles, quickly developing designs and prototypes, as the depth of engineering work increases. This phase can include Level 2 and 3 prototypes, typically through multiple cycles. Some products require as many as twenty prototype cycles in this phase. Others may only require two or three.

Phase 5: Design Finalization / Optimization

With all assumptions tested and validated, the design can be finalized and then optimized for production. To properly optimize for production, product design and engineering teams take into account the target production volumes, as well as the requirements of the manufacturer. Regulatory work may start in this phase.

Phase 6: Manufacturing Start and Support

Before production starts, tooling is produced, and initial units are inspected. Final changes are negotiated with the manufacturer. Regulatory work also should wrap up in this phase.

An Old-School Thank You Is Still a Brilliant Move

Want to know one of the best ways to get someone’s attention?

Send them a thank you–in the mail.

My team and I are always saying “thank you” in our business. In fact, one of the most successful activities we have done as it relates to business development is to send an initial email about the work we do and if people click into the links for more information, we follow-up with a thank you.

Human nature is often consistent, and the fact of the matter is that people appreciate being thanked for taking a few moments of their time to do what you want them to do.

Old-School Magic

Recently, we were in a meeting with a client with one of our clients in our marketing division, and we spoke about another technique that we use. A thank you in the mail with the personal touch. I’ve written about this in the past, but it works–well–and yet in the digital age, so many people hear that this is an excellent way to communicate with older audiences above the age of 40, which is almost like magic, but they never try it out for themselves.

Job Interview Follow-up

I know that Millennials seem to think that putting pen to paper is one of the worst things they can do; it’s like going to the dentist. Maybe even worse! But, not too long ago, I heard about a Millennial that interviewed with a manager that was in his 50′s. Like any smart interviewee, he knew that he had to follow-up on an excellent interview with an acknowledgment. But, he didn’t send the email as we expect in today’s day and age.

Instead, he penned a note into a professional card and then walked it over to the UPS office and sent it for overnight delivery. The manager received the personalized note card and not too long after–the candidate got the job.

Why did he get the job, aside from the fact that he was a talented candidate?

He got the job, it turns out, when the manager told him later when he was working on staff, that the manager appreciated the receipt of the personalized card. The candidate edged out other talented and qualified candidates because he went a step further and did it creatively.

It demonstrated the job candidate was serious about the job.
The personalized note, which was taken to UPS, set the candidate apart from the rest and showed the manager he was willing to go the extra mile.
Finally, and very importantly, Generation X grew up receiving mail from the postman–not emails. So, the manager told the candidate he hired that it demonstrated he understood what resonated with him. And, since the job was in sales, the candidate proved that he was willing to understand what motivated the other person, and not limit himself to what he preferred.

Biggest Mistake Millennials & Gen Z Make in Business

I’m going to call out Millennials and Generation Z in this article because there is something that I’ve noticed. It’s not limited to their generation and others before them have done it. I’ve seen that often the “thank you” is lost; forget about a note in the post. I can’t tell you the number of times candidates come and meet with my managers and don’t bother to follow-up in any way. It’s such a small act that can make a big difference and it always surprises me that this straightforward thing is often overlooked.

Not too long ago, a successful business professional who was networked to money people happened to meet someone who impressed her. The young Millennial was creating a new business, and the successful professional was fascinated by the young entrepreneur’s platform for university students. The young entrepreneur sensed the senior professional’s excitement and asked for two to three contacts that she could be introduced to and who might consider investing in her business.

After that day, within a few hours, the young Millennial sent the senior executive a quick text. This was the extent of it, “Looking forward to meeting the two people you’d say you’d introduce me to!”

That was it.

The senior professional waited, expecting to hear a simple thank you. One day, two days, a week passed, and there was no other message from the young entrepreneur. The senior professional never did introduce the Millennial business owner.

Why?

The young professional had not mastered the art of a thank you, not to mention going above and beyond with a personalized note, and that didn’t impress the older (and networked) professional. Not in the slightest.

The best business professionals understand that success in business comes with relationship building. Always close with a “thank you,” and if you want to be successful with older professionals, try a little old-school thank you magic if that’s who you happen to be talking to and want to impress.