Innovation, everyone’s favourite buzzword, but how do you actually deliver on this and come up with ideas that will create the best possible products? We all know that every new idea for a product will have to obtain management approval somewhere along the way, so how can you ensure that you receive nods of agreement, rather than the sort of look that makes you wish you just hadn’t bothered?
A successful product manager will be well aware of the phrase 'two ears, one mouth' and understand the value of listening to input from clients, consultants, sales teams and others who may bring valuable insight. Sifting through all this information may be something of a challenge, and there will definitely be some gems, in addition to some stinkers, in the pile. After all, most product managers come up with ideas through sharing opinions, rather than locking themselves in a room and thinking very hard.
Today’s best product management tools allow you to take advantage of two key elements, which are both critical to making sure that you have picked the right product idea to take forwards, have fully considered all of the information that will make the idea a success or failure, and have obtained the necessary buy-in that will help you sail through the approval process. These two elements are; (1) a way of sharing ideas with an appropriate audience, and (2) a way of storing research input in an easily accessible manner.
Some product managers tend to be a little nervous about sharing immature ideas, particularly if they haven’t had an opportunity to bounce them off a few trusted sources first. A good product management tool will allow you to share an idea with someone whose opinion you respect, but without broadcasting this to all and sundry. Once you have had feedback from your sounding board, you should then be able to seek further feedback, submit the idea to a formal approval process, or quietly consign it to the drawer marked 'let’s forget about these ones'!
The ability to store research data, then easily evidence why a new idea is popular with clients and will work, is clearly vital. Today’s best tools can store this information in a variety of formats, ideally with a clear audited record of who said what and when. So, whether these documents represent the results of a broad market questionnaire, a detailed exercise with an external consultancy, or the feedback from an extensive set of interviews with your current and prospective client base, they should be able to act as a visible record supporting your case as you argue the merits of the new product idea.
Whether your organization operates a formal model of board approval for all new product ideas, or takes a more flexible approach with one of the many formats of popular voting, these capabilities will ensure that you have all the evidence at hand necessary to support your innovation. You should also have a number of key stakeholders already aligned to your suggestion, ensuring that the 'special stare' is something that only happens in other companies.