product development articles

Should you outsource your idea generation?


Are you at a fork in the road?  Should you be outsourcing your idea generation or using your internal resources? Much attention is being paid to crowdsourced innovation, innovation contests, and innovation tournaments. The idea is to use the power of crowds to generate lots of ideas. The best ideas will rise to the top and become the next blockbuster product. We find that these approaches tend to be quite expensive and yield few valuable ideas.

We observed a lot of effort is focused on soliciting new product ideas externally, while internal analysis and product strategy development languishes. (Read more on product strategies: 4 Product Strategy Insights… and Why You Should Care)

A company’s determination of “what to do” is not well-defined, especially, when developing new products. This leads to confusion and conflicting paths resulting in decision paralysis or poor decisions that in retrospect seem very obvious, “why didn’t we come up with that idea?”

Organizations that have well-defined strategies have CLARITY:

• Better ideas, because you know your products/categories/competitors/external forces/customers
• Greater speed, because the goals are clear for the executive and project team members, decisions are made rapidly without extensive debate and politicking
• Alignment between the business, innovation, and product strategies ensures the most valuable projects are chosen
• Optimizing resources (Read more on resource management: Expectations of the Executive Team in Pipeline Management)
• Exuding a sense of purpose and clarity

Organizations without strategies have CHAOS:

• Chaos reigns over the entire organization as the various functions try to cope with different agendas
• Wasted time and repetitive meetings covering the same topics debating which projects should be pursued
• Product managers forced to develop their product line and category strategies in a vacuum, trying to infer the direction of the organization
• Projects are preempted as new priorities become urgent
• Resources are not allocated to the most valuable projects or are wasted on unnecessary or unprofitable projects