NPD legend Bob Cooper isn’t impressed with your innovation efforts


cooper-teachesMost folks know Dr. Robert G. Cooper as a pioneering leader of innovation and one of the key figures responsible for bringing discipline to New Product Development by popularizing the Stage-Gate process used around the world.  With his vast experience closely observing innovation performance across several industries, he sees many companies falling into the same ruts, producing the same product improvements, extensions and modifications that don’t create the growth that they hunger for.

Traveling the world helping companies jumpstart their innovation engines to be bolder, larger-scope and with game-changing appeal to customers, Dr. Cooper says companies can reinvent their approach to innovation by focusing on the following:

  • To succeed in bigger, bolder innovation, you need a product innovation and technology strategy – a strategy that focuses your business’s R&D efforts on the most attractive arenas – the engines of growth for the future.
  • People working in the right climate is also vital to success – this means having the right climate and culture for innovation, an appetite to invest in innovative and more risky projects, a team-based organizational design and the right leadership from the top.
  • Big ideas lead to big concepts and big solutions. Dr. Cooper’s benchmarking studies have identified 10 proven ways to create big innovation ideas.
  • Driving these large-scope and risky projects through the fuzzy front end, into development, and finally to market means that you need a robust and efficient idea-to-launch system that is designed to handle these major, “big concept” ideas and projects – a rapid, flexible, adaptive and agile development gating system.
  • Weak business cases, no appetite for investment in riskier projects, and relying on the wrong project selection criteria kills more bold innovation than any other single cause! So picking the winners and building robust business cases for ambitious concepts is key to success

Does this ring true with your experience?  Many companies say all the right things about taking their products to the next level, but often fall flat in their execution.  Failing at the big scale goals often result in the organization falling back to where they are comfortable, and continuing to lament their lack of bolder innovation, thus creating a vicious cycle of risk aversion.  Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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