When innovation misses its mark?

Being an innovative company isn’t all disruption, game changing and creating new markets and customers. Inherently, to be innovative firms must embrace failure. Ideally, failure in controlled environments or experiments would create a level of comfort with firm leaders but not all firms are created equal in that some firms may not have the resources to expend on experiments. In those instances, to pursue competitive advantage and value creation firms launch great new ideas into the market on the belief that it will meet their customer’s needs. Consequently, some firms launch innovations into the market that totally miss their target market. Innovations miss their target market because of timing; either the customers are not ready for the innovation or the innovation doesn’t actually meet customer’s needs.

How does this happen? Typically, this happens as a result of a new idea that was inappropriately vetted and inadequately aligned with customers needs. Design thinking and service design are great protocols to follow to fully evaluate a concept and progress an idea from concept to commercial impact.

As leaders we can get over zealous sometimes and launch an innovation that we know our customer's need but may be way off like Sandy's jump-shot.

Here a post on service design that layouts out the process.

Acceptance testing, user feedback and quantifiable refinement are three areas in the innovation management process that firms fall short and subsequently miss their target. This is the “boring” part of innovation management but critical to the feasibility and viability of the concept in the market. Absent of the appropriate testing and validation, customers may not be ready for the innovative idea or just don’t see the value of the idea for their business. This can have a detrimental effect on not only the firm but it’s customers if not managed correctly. The implications of wasted resources on a small firm can be substantial not to mention the adverse effect it could have on the relationship between leaders, employees, and customers.

Ideally preventing the unfortunate effects of an innovation that misses its target would be the way to go. Preventative measures would include conducting exhaustive validation efforts prior to launch. Many firms build gates into their validation process, which ensure the appropriate alignment with customer needs. There are several methods in which to validate an idea, including the waterfall and lean approaches. However, underlying any of these validation approaches are a hand full of universal principles that anyone can execute to prevent missing the mark with their innovative ideas.

Here’s a quick run down of the 5 principles of validation:

  • Conceptualize - Get to the 5 best versions of the idea; any more than 5 will be confusing

  • Capture – Choose clients or prospects to expose the idea to and interview them; do not choose family and friends

  • Conduct – Informal interviews are a great way to get clients and prospects involved with your idea; don’t forget to thank them for their time and feedback

  • Confirm – After thoroughly reviewing feedback, decide on the version that most resonates with your interviewees; feel free to re-engage interviewees to gain complete clarity

  • Construct – Build a minimum viable prototype for launch; don’t forget to plan out branding and customer acquisition to accompany the prototype.

The Board of Innovation is a global business design agency, has developed a great resource set for those looking for best practices in corporate innovation. Here's their validation guide.

It goes without saying, that to get alignment with customer needs one would have to be proximate to customers. To avoid missing the target market with innovative ideas, co-creation tactics, like information sessions and solution development working sessions are great ways to work with customers toward innovative ideas. Most would agree that preventing is easier than fixing, so preventative measures would be recommended over trying to fix a situation where an innovative idea was launched, and it missed its target market. Let’s go to the playbook to see how to deal with an innovation that misses its target market.


Implications of scenario on innovation strategy