There are 27-million entrepreneurs starting or running a new business in the United States, according to a recent study by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. From those 27-million trailblazers, GEM also projects that there are 39% with an innovation intensity. In other words, 39% of the products coming to market, are considered new and innovative.
There Has To Be A Process
With all of this creation and innovation, we really need to understand how companies can create products that are innovative yet accepted in a crowded, established market... or how the process of continually redesigning to maintain a bestseller actually works. It might not be rocket science, but it's pretty close. There are a lot of details to consider, and they matter. For that reason, I've broken down the necessary steps of the process for designing or redesigning a product to stay a bestseller.
- Discover - This might be the most obvious thing I point out, but your product must solve a problem or fill a desire for a broad enough range of people that it can gain traction. Your first step is to discover the problem you will solve. If you are redesigning a classic, your first step is to discover an area currently solving a problem that needs modernization.
- Research - A transparent system with multiple streams of consumer feedback, market data, societal needs, customer values, and emerging technologies is necessary and will expose opportunity for innovation. Every idea shouldn't be implemented, even if it is a good idea. Your research will either prove your product, or prove that you should move on.
- Create - Your framework is the beginning of creation. If you're redesigning, strip the product back to its original framework and build from there. If you are designing a brand new product, your framework will always be the foundation you go back to each time you innovate.
- Develop - Prototyping and testing is a very exciting part of the process. When you have a product, something real, you can hold in your hands, you can really develop a deeper understanding of how it works, how it feels, and most importantly: what it may be missing. This process will also allow you to do (yes) even more research, to measure reactions and get solid feedback as you decide how you will move forward.
- Implement - Branding, sales, and marketing are all part of implementation process, as you take your product to market and put to work everything you've built up to this point.
Do Not Be Afraid Of Innovation, Redesign, Or Failure
At my company, we are relatively small, but I've found that we thrive when we innovate. And we thrive even more when we cut our ties with failures fast. If you are going to take this path, you must know that failure is okay, and even a large part of the innovation process. As long you've got a system by which you're evaluating as objectively as possible, which is not always, then you can learn to test the waters and bail out if needed. Fail fast and move on.
A real-life example of this process is a client we worked with on designing office chairs... 600 to be exact... in a three year span. Were we crazy? Maybe it seemed that way at the time. Did it work? Yes, and it is still is working. We produced a product that's still in Costco right now. It's been five years and it's not only a bestseller, it's a Platinum Record bestseller. Proving that, truly, a bestseller comes from a history of a lot of iterations, and a lot of failed tests with shifting to stay innovative as necessary. It just is the way that it goes, so lean into that process without fear.