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MANAGEMENT: How to Get Your Great Idea to the Market?
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How to Get Your Great Idea to the Market?

By Marwan Emile Faddoul, Managing Partner, NFG Consulting LLC & Katherine Lange Johnson, Marketing Advisor, NFG Consulting LLC

BT 201606 150 01 Management light bulbs 1125016Entrepreneurs have a knack for coming up with new products that disrupt the present and alter the future. These are the ideas that at one time seemed needless and bizarre, yet suddenly become essential to our daily lives.

Questions the short-sighted among us have asked include: Why would I need an app to hail a cab when I can simply get one from the street? Why would I need to make a call from my car when I could just use my home phone? Why would I need to tell time from my wrist when I can just look at a clock? But those far-sighted, entrepreneurial among us ask better questions, such as: Why not? Wouldn't it be better if...? Isn't this interesting?

Great new products preempt the consumer's notion about what they want and need. These are the products that jump curves to offer something innovative, not just something that offers "better-sameness." To understand the concept behind "curve jumping," consider the evolution of...ice.

Still reading? Stick with me here.

Ice 1.0 represents the traditional ice harvesting performed on frozen ponds in cold places with big knives and strong horses. Next comes Ice 2.0, which represents the shift to mass-production of ice in factories not isolated to the colder regions of the world. And finally comes Ice 3.0, in which we make ice in our own kitchens at home. Each shift in the evolution of the ice industry was disruptive to what came before it, and perhaps was met with trepidation and skepticism. Why produce ice when you can harvest it for free? Why make ice at home when you can have it delivered each day? If these seem like viable questions to you, you may not be an entrepreneur. But for the entrepreneurs out there with a great idea you want to take to market, keep reading.

Curve jumping products are DICEE-deep, intelligent, complete, empowering and elegant. Consider the depth and reach of the product line offered by Google-search engine, advertising portal, operating system, digital store, analytics, computers, tablets, phones, maps, and one day perhaps a self-driving car. Google exemplifies a depth of offerings under one name that spans numerous services, yet maintains an overall cohesiveness that is understandable and approachable to the consumer.

BT 201606 150 03 MANAGEMENT hlIntelligent products prove that the creator understands the needs and desires of its customers-even if the customers have yet to realize those needs. The American car company Ford Motors introduced the MyKey programmable key on all models starting in 2010. Intended to be used by parents of young drivers or rental car companies, MyKey can be programmed to limit the top speed or volume of the stereo for safety purposes. By applying a technology to a potential need, Ford created a new way to provide a safe and functional product for its customers to feel good about.

Complete products provide a full collection of offerings to the consumer, such as pre-sales services, after-sales support, complementary products, documentation, or other enhancements. Consider a key cutting service that extends in product line to include key rings and key chains, or a coffee shop that also sells cakes, bottled water, and coffee beans. This completeness is commonly found in apps that provide a free version of the game for free with the option of enhancing the experience through in-app purchases.

Empowering products make the user BETTER simply by using the product. We are clearer presenters thanks to the structure provided by PowerPoint. We are smarter travelers thanks to the knowledge provided by TripAdvisor. We are more efficient drivers thanks to the directional assistance provided by Apple Maps. A curve-jumping product is going to bring an amount of productivity or creativity to its user that they didn't know they were missing, but soon cannot do without.

Elegant can be defined as pleasingly ingenious and simple. Or as the venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki puts it...elegance is the combination of power and simplicity. Curve jumping innovations are striking in their simplicity and completeness. They are notable for both what is there as well as what is purposefully not there.

BT 201606 150 02 Management Ford MyKeyThink about the iPhone, and the first word to come to mind very well may be "sleek". We are captured by the elegance of its design. The iPhone empowers us to be more productive, better connected, and more quickly informed about the world around us. In combination with the App Store, the iPhone allows for a wide collection of add-ons, ranging from practical-calculators, flashlights, instant messages-to pleasurable-games, photo sharing, selfie enhancements-providing a completeness to the product and related services. The iPhone, and the smart phone revolution that followed, is a current example of a technology that changed the market by providing something we didn't know we wanted, but now cannot do without.

But most of us aren't about to reinvent the iPhone. We've got an idea, or perhaps a working model, and a dream, but we need to know what to do in order to introduce our product to the market. So, what do we do next?

We kill our product, and we watch how it died.

Ask yourself and your partners a crucially honest question: "If our product fails, what's going to cause its demise?" The hypothetical nature of this question creates a safe space to share opinions that may otherwise be seen as negative, contrary, or pessimistic. Will you attribute its failure to a design flaw? Will people ultimately not buy the product because the target market finds it cost prohibitive? Was it simply too hard for consumers to change their current ways to adopt the new technology? Once you've successfully killed your product, you can make it stronger.

Use this "pre-mortem" activity to uncover your product's shortcomings and delineate any defects, and then eliminate the mistakes one item at a time. Is there a design flaw? Re-design it. Is it too expensive? Re-market it. Is it hard to understand? Clarify it. You are now equipped to see the future of your product and alter its trajectory.

BT 201606 150 05 MANAGEMENT 240385 1309120U04115At this point, you've built an indestructible, curve-jumping, immortal, mind-shattering disruptive technology that will change the world, right?

Well, it's probably good enough. Now is not the time to worry about perfection. Now is the time to introduce your product, so long as it is minimally viable, valuable and validating (as Mr. Kawasaki puts it).

Don't believe me? Then consider the first version of the iPod, which became the curve-jumping, immortal, disruptive technology we're seeking, but not without a few changes. The first version was clunky, limited and expensive for the average consumer. On the plus side, it was hand-held, portable, and offered its user a wider selection of music than a CD player. Perhaps not coincidentally, it paved the way for smart phones and tablets; it launched iTunes, which in turn created the interdependent App Store service; and in many ways indelibly changed the music industry and the way we consume music-and all that from a small screen and a couple of buttons!


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