Author: Michael Dalton

Jolt your new product results

Looking for a way to accelerate your new product results and get more from your new product processes? Here are three steps you can take to caffeinate your innovation. 1. Narrow your focus While concentrating too hard on one thing can cause you to mistake the forest for the trees, that’s hardly the problems in companies today. No, people are normally spread to thin – dealing with anywhere between five and ten projects at the same time. The so-called multi-tasking required to survive this situation puts people in a constant state of distraction (beta brainwave state) as they switch back and forth between tasks. It also means that they spend a higher percentage (greater than 70% by some estimates) of their time on the non-value added activity of juggling tasks. Instead, determine the number of projects you can do with people assigned to only one project at a time. You’ll find people more effective and more engaged because a much higher percentage of their time is spent in a productive flow or focused performance state (alpha brain wave) instead of managing multiple priorities. With this approach, you’ll run far fewer projects at any given time, but get them done much faster. While this may seem counter-intuitive, you’ll also get far more projects done in the same period of time. You can learn more about the benefits of this pipelining...

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Language that sells

You may have the greatest new product or service in the world, but if you can’t get buyers’ attention and communicate in their language, you will struggle with accelerating new product development. Here are four levels that your marketing and sales must follow to effectively capture customers’ attention and lead them through the buying process. 1. Strong Benefit Research shows that multiple benefits weaken the effectiveness of a benefit statement. A single strong benefit is always more compelling. What is the primary way your product or service benefits the customer? What problem does it solve? Does it helps them sell more, free up working capital, or reduce operating expenses? In consumer markets, convenience and stress reduction are hot benefits. What can you do to free up time for your customers? 2. Unique Advantages Why is your product or service able to deliver those benefits better than the competitive alternatives? How is it both different and better than everything else out there? If your product creates a new category, you must also explain how your product relates to the old way of doing things and what”s different that makes it better. For instance, a smartphone is like a cellphone but more convenient because it integrates your calendar, contact manager and email. 3. Features What creates the advantages of your product? Features drill down into the advantages showing how they are...

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Is multitasking getting us anywhere?

Chief Executive Magazine recently took leaders to task in an article that hits one of the problems of multitasking on the head. What message does multitasking send to those around us? Multitasking, whether as an organization or individually kills focus and reduces productivity and innovation and among other areas the development of new products. The real underlying issue is that we delude ourselves into thinking that activity is what’s important when it’s results that really count. That and showing those around us that we’re interested in what they have to say at least as much as catching up on emails! In Simplifying Innovation, I refer to the electronic distractions as DADS or Device Deficit Attention Syndrome. That’s when people don’t think there’s anything wrong with stopping in mid-conversation to pick up their mobile phone to see who was calling or texting them. The implicit message being that if it was someone more important, they might take the call. Even worse, during meetings they constantly check email on their laptops or phones, and even pause to send replies–the false economy of multitasking, like heroin to an activity junkie. One simple solution is a box where these devices are surrendered and kept during meetings. I know, it might seem too much like a teacher taking away toys, but it achieves two important things: It eliminates the distraction. It makes the meeting...

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Is the internet hurting your innovation?

In his new book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr, outlines several ways that the always on, 24/7 nature of the internet is a double-edged sword – providing us with unprecedented access to information while at the same time slashing our attention span, re-wiring our brains, and slowing intellectual development. A diet of social media isn’t exactly conducive to the contemplative life lived by the great thinkers of previous ages. In fact, it’s closer to that of cavemen hunting for their next meal while trying to avoid being eaten by another predator. On balance, I don’t actually believe that the internet hurts innovation, but there are downsides. Carr alludes to one that I wrote about in Simplifying Innovation– something I call Device Attention Deficit Syndrome (DADS). We use the phone, email, texting, and even Facebook and Twitter as substitutes for real interpersonal communication and we allow the devices that deliver them to become a constant distraction when we are actually communicating with each other. How many of you have had someone check their crack-berry messages or take a cell phone call during a conversation? How about typing away, doing email during a meeting. And how many of you may have even done so yourself? I know I have. What kind of message did that send the people I was meeting with? Not exactly...

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Invisible gorilla of unmet customer needs

In their new book, The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us, Chabris and Simons share a story where study participants were tasked with counting the number of times a basketball was passed during a one-minute film. Halfway through the film, someone in a gorilla suit walks through the picture while beating his chest and them leaves. The amazing thing is that half of the participants were so focused on the task that afterward they had absolutely no recollection of seeing a gorilla. It’s what the authors call the illusion of attention and the illusion of memory-the fact that we put much more faith in our our powers of observation and recollection than is warranted. While The Invisible Gorilla is not about new product development processes, there are some important lessons here for innovators. If you are interested in accelerating product development, you know it’s important to have people spend time interviewing customers. If you’ve ever participated in one of these interviews, you know there is lots of information that you have to pay attention to and later recall. Of course, there’s what the customer actually says, but sometimes it’s just as important to pay attention to how they said it, or even the body language they exhibited while saying it. It requires impeccable listening skills and copious note taking. The problem is that keeping everything from...

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Elephants at Work

Lynn Dessert, MBA PCC

Lynn Dessert, MBA PCC

Lynn Dessert is an Executive Coach based in Charlotte, NC. She assists high achievers to be exceptional and versatile through executive, leadership and career coaching. She works with clients by phone, ZOOM and in-person.

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