Learning Provider Profile
Throughout his career, Mr. Faigen has been laying-flat the issues that block innovative new products from becoming successful businesses. His unique perspective has been shaped by his hands-on experience in Research, Development, Product Test, Customer Experience, Product Management, Marketing, Sales & Brand, founding and leading three software startups, and over 20 years in consulting. He created New Product Business as a pragmatic approach to drive successful commercial outcomes amidst the inherent uncertainty that stymies innovation.
Each of his functional positions taught him how to master pieces of innovation’s complexity. His career started in high-tech R&D which was seen by that industry as the natural owner of innovation since it created new products. His roles in Marketing, Sales and Brand introduced the need for a strong voice-of-customer to guide a new product’s value proposition. Leading Product Management for a $3Bn hardware/software company highlighted the need for portfolio planning and product life cycle management. And consulting to dozens of clients across industries highlighted the need for speed of action across the entire business to scale commercial success for new businesses.
These lessons, however, only partially answered the question, “why do companies struggle with getting their desired financial outcomes from new products”?
Over the previous 20 years, the game clock was reset to “Digital” challenging every company to bring new products to market faster. The common (and flawed) approach was to focus was on developing new products, not new product businesses, but even within new product development, there were significant challenges. Mr. Faigen helped several clients accelerate their internal clocks so they could compete at Digital speed, however, these early engagements also uncovered related problems that had to be flattened for a company to be commercially successful at innovation. Specifically, companies needed a new decision-making model to deal with innovation’s inherently high-level of uncertainty. Uncertainty impacts how projects are funded, how many projects need to be undertaken in parallel, the criticality to use learning as a measure of innovation progress, and the way a company should organize.
Mr. Faigen responded to the need for tools to handle this uncertainty and gathered, built, and incorporated them into the New Product Business approach.
Mr. Faigen holds a Bachelors and Masters in Mechanical Engineering and is a Professional Engineer.
This program provides teams in Technology, Consumer Goods, Telecommunications, Automotive, and Healthcare the tools, processes, and decision-making skills to create new businesses or radically re-imagine core business processes. They will learn to act as a multi-functional innovation team, owning the commercial business outcomes they will generate through the development of a new product or service. The twelve-month program will engage them in the various aspects necessary to navigate innovation’s uncertain terrain as they move from generating business ideas, through building their product or service, to launching it in the market, and growing it to scale. In addition to working in a new multi-functional silo model, they will become skilled at making fast-paced decisions with little available data and become comfortable with learning quickly, failing, and having to pivot.
In the first month’s workshop, Current State, the team will gain a solid understanding of their starting point and their innovation ambition, which sets the stage for undertaking the innovation journey. The starting point is their corporate strategy, and the role innovation plays in contributing to their company’s growth. The current statement assessment covers how the company is currently organized for innovation, where the innovation decisions are made, by whom, and how often. The maturity of the current innovation business processes marks the departure point and will be used as a reference for the progress to be made as the company adopts the New Product Business process. At the conclusion of Current State, the team will understand the distance up the Innovation Maturity Curve they will need to make to create their desired Future State.
01. Internal Analysis: Use the Innovation Current State Analysis tool to document the company’s Strategy, Role for Innovation, Innovation Staffing, Innovation Funding, Portfolio Management, and Innovation Governance. Time allocated: 1 Month
02. Define Issues: Reflect on the Innovation Current State, identifying misalignments, gaps, and breaks. Time allocated: 1 Month
03. Target Setting: Document how innovation targets are set. Time allocated: 1 Month
04: Gather Data: Collect the data for the Current State. Time allocated: 1 Month
05: Analyze Data: Learn how the Current State helps/hinders your company’s innovation efforts. Time allocated: 1 Month
06: Preliminary Plan: Using the Innovation Current State Analysis tool, develop a complete view on your company’s approach to innovation. Time allocated: 1 Month
07: Review Plan: Review the preliminary plan, testing it for accuracy and completeness. Time allocated: 1 Month
08: Test Assumptions: Develop hypotheses and test each. Time allocated: 1 Month
09: Issue Resolution: Resolve any issues that surface from hypothesis testing. Time allocated: 1 Month
10: Implement Solutions: Improve the plan with new learnings. Time allocated: 1 Month
11: Monitor Activity: Review plan with senior management. Time allocated: 1 Month
12: Continuous Improvement: Use feedback to further improve the Current State document. Time allocated: 1 Month
01. Internal Analysis: Multi-functional innovation team to capture the company’s Innovation Current State.
02. Define Issues: Multi-functional innovation team to reflect on the gaps and misalignments.
03. Target Setting: Multi-functional innovation team to determine how innovation targets are currently set.
04: Gathering Data: Multi-functional innovation team gathers the data of the Current State.
05: Analyze Data: Multi-functional innovation team analyzes the Current State data evaluating how the current state helps/hinders innovation efforts.
06: Preliminary Plan: Multi-functional innovation team builds the first complete overall assessment of the company’s approach to innovation.
07: Review Plan: Multi-functional innovation team tests the view of the Current State they have created.
08: Test Assumptions: Multi-functional innovation team develops leap of faith hypotheses and tests each.
09: Issue Resolution: Multi-functional innovation team resolves the issues they have uncovered in hypotheses testing.
10: Implement Solutions: Multi-functional innovation team defines changes to their Current State Analysis document.
11: Monitor Activity: Multi-functional innovation team uses the senior management team as a sounding board on their Current State Analysis.
12: Continuous Improvement: Multi-functional innovation team incorporates senior management feedback into their Current State Analysis.
01. Internal Analysis: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time early in the next month to become familiar with the Innovation Current State Analysis tool.
02. Define Issues: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to analyze the Current State and provide their input on gaps, breaks and hindrances.
03. Target Setting: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to verify the target setting mechanisms in the Current State.
04: Gathering Data: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time early in the next month to assist in gathering the data required by the Innovation Current State Analysis tool.
05: Analyze Data: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to provide their input on how the Innovation Current State helps and hinders innovation efforts.
06: Preliminary Plan: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to create the first full view of the Innovation Current State.
07: Review Plan: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to test the Innovation Current State for completeness and accuracy.
08: Test Assumptions: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to create hypotheses that will pressure test the Current Plan.
09: Issue Resolution: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to tests the hypotheses they have created.
10: Implement Solutions: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to update the Current State using the learnings from their hypotheses pressure tests.
11: Monitor Activity: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to meet with senior management to review the Innovation Current State.
12: Continuous Improvement: Each member of the multi-functional team sets aside time in the next month to take the learnings from the senior management review to update the Innovation Current State.
Innovation is a powerful tool and wielded properly, can significantly improve the arc of a company’s growth curve. Yet, few companies are successful in using innovation to improve their financial futures. How is it that innovation, with all its promise to create new businesses based on a combination of new products sold to new/existing customers through new/existing channels, often fails to deliver? The answers to this question are found in how companies wield innovation and not with innovation itself.
Innovation is an immensely flexible tool, and it is this inherent adaptability that creates a problem for many companies. While innovation can do almost anything, the question senior management need to answer is, what specifically do we need innovation to deliver? Innovation, like mathematics or artificial intelligence needs a specific application to provide it shape and size. The best place to define an application for innovation is your corporate strategy as this can explicitly define the role for innovation.
To be precise, there are four roles for innovation in support of your corporate strategy. First and most common, it can Fill the Gap between your strategic growth plan and the growth you are expecting from your current product set. Second, it can become your Growth Engine where 20% to 40% of your yearly revenue is generated by products that are only two or three years old. Third, it can act as an Accelerator, shortening the time it takes to achieve commercial success. Lastly, Innovation can boost a company’s performance through a Moonshot, creating a new product that rapidly scales in the marketplace and significantly contributes to shaping your company’s future.
The four roles differ significantly in their potential impact, and require different staffing, funding and risk taking. Senior management need to select one of these four potential roles. In the absence of a compelling case, most companies pursue a Fill the Gap approach as this has the most chance of success.
Beyond selecting innovation’s role, each company will need to consider how it is organized to undertake innovation. Innovation is an action sport, played by a multi-function team. The team is developing a new business which will return attractive commercial outcomes, measured against the strategic goals it needs to accomplish. The measurements must ally with the business model – for some business models this is the addition of new customers, for others it might the number of new customers that recommend other customers, or for some new businesses, the traditional financial measurements of revenue, profit, and market share might be best. For the team to be successful, it needs to know how the score will be kept and what success looks like.
Often innovation is siloed into an Innovation Hub or more traditionally, done in Research and Development. The common logic is that innovation is all about creating something new, and that is the bastion of someone who is immersed in technology. This idea might have been useful when technology was in its infancy, roughly 50 years ago, as digital technology was cumbersome and expensive limiting its application. Today, with an accelerating pace, innovation is transforming our daily lives across lifestyle, entertainment, healthcare, industry, transportation with ubiquitous potential. This means innovation teams need to know the specific application (customer pains and gains) plus competition plus how to quickly build a product and a business around solving those customer pains and gains. This Rubik’s Cube of Market, Product, Channel, Brand, Operations, and Time to Market is best solved by a multi-function team whose individual specialization covers the diverse set of problems.
Innovation teams must answer a range of different questions such as, what market secret have we discovered? How can we uniquely unlock the market’s secret? How does our brand proposition align with serving this new market? What sales and marketing motions do we need to create? What are the economics of the new business we will create? What risks are involved in our new business? How will this new business impact our supply chain? How will our Operations team need to adapt to handle this new volume of business? What new capabilities do we need across the entire customer experience?
Clearly, a technology-only team would be incapable of answering the representative list of innovation questions shown above. The recommended approach to staffing the innovation teams is to assign the range of critical skills to the team for the duration of innovation life cycle. Typically, this means Marketing, Sales, Finance, Operations, Customer Experience, and Technology. In certain situations, it is also valuable to add Regulatory, Legal, Compliance and International team members. Ahead of the workshop, the senior management team will need to define both innovation’s role and the staff who will play on the multi-functional innovation teams.
The Innovation Current State workshop will also evaluate your decision making across the entire innovation life cycle. The innovation life cycle begins with new business ideation, where you capture a vast set of ideas, and while they are raw and ill-formed, they still represent a significant potential asset. As these potential business ideas are scored and ranked, they will progress along the roadmapping process into a portfolio, which will be funded and actively worked. Some projects will ultimately fail and not reach the market but most of the actively worked projects will launch and grow into recognizable businesses. The innovation process usually ends after product launch, with a handoff to a commercialization team although this is a topic that will covered in subsequent workshops.
The playbook for running the innovation lifecycle needs different tooling, decision making processes and time keeping. Unlike the core businesses which are well known and have established patterns, innovation is filled with uncertainties which require continuous evaluation. The learning from these evaluations sets a fast tempo for decision making which in turn means decisions are made with less data than those in the core business. The innovation team will need to how to make these frequent and less-informed decisions as they pivot their way forward on their innovation path. Senior management will also need to create a new governance structure, allowing the innovation team sufficient decision-making power on their field of play. Senior management’s role is far less hierarchical in innovation compared to the core business. They must allow the innovation team to make the day-to-day decisions, choose their course, and learn their way forward.
To create an overall view of their company’s approach to innovation, the multi-functional teams will use the Innovation Current State tool, which is specifically developed for this purpose. The tool integrates strategy with innovation and provides insights into how innovation is managed across its entire life cycle. The tool is designed to highlight areas where changes to the current state will yield significant financial upside by launching new businesses faster; by tuning these businesses to be on-trend (or ahead of trend); and by focusing the entire process on building scalable businesses rather than just new products or services.
Given innovation’s innate fungibility, the tool first investigates the alignment between your company’s strategy and the role innovation is playing in support of your strategy. Often, there is a significant gap between what the strategy needs, and the role innovation is performing. For example, one company’s strategy clearly expressed they wanted to be the leader in innovation in their industry. Innovation efforts at their company greatly expanded with dozens of technically proficient new hires, the acquisition of a trendy innovation hub, and the creation of a Chief Innovation Officer position. Unfortunately, two years later, the company had not achieved any significant revenue from new businesses. Using the Innovation Current State tool, gaps between Strategy and Innovation were uncovered and subsequently remediated, removing key barriers to the company realizing its innovation position in the market and achieving its business goals.
The foundation layer of the Innovation Current State tool is the diagram of the entire innovation lifecycle from idea generation through to commercial market success. Commercial success is the natural and desired outcome for innovation, but curiously, it is often overlooked with most innovation lifecycles ending with product launch. This is an error, as innovation must be measured by the outcomes it enables. Launching a product is not by itself a success measurement, even though it is a cause for celebration. Innovation success is measured by the number of new customers or revenue or profit or customer retention or other market-based measurements it set out to achieve.
The innovation lifecycle has four major movements: Idea generation, Roadmapping, Execution, and Commercialization. The speed an organization can traverse the innovation lifecycle is one measure of a company’s innovation agility. Faster is better than slower but only if the achieved commercial success equals or exceeds expectations. This is another reason why it is critical to include commercialization on the innovation lifecycle.
Idea generation opens the aperture of possible new businesses that your company might create. Once the idea generation engine is in gear and produces many potential ideas, a company uses roadmapping to identify which ideas possesses the right mixture of potential business outcomes, inherent risks, timing, and required financial and talent investments. While each idea is evaluated against these criteria the decision makers will pick a portfolio of ideas for the next phase. Portfolios are an acknowledged mechanism for mitigating uncertainty, which is exactly the reason companies rely on innovation business portfolios.
The third innovation movement is Execution, and during this time, the company will need to make fast decisions without rich data sets or trend data. Because quickly getting to Commercialization is critical to the success of a new business, there is immense pressure during the Execution phase to make decisions that progress new businesses forward. Waiting for more data, while possibly useful, is often an unaffordable luxury. The Innovation Current State tool evaluates how decisions are made and where faster decision making can improve the flow through Execution and towards Commercialization.
The techniques for faster decision making amidst uncertainty are based on a proven formula of Build/Test/Learn. The Build/Test/Learn cycle focuses an innovation team’s resources on the most critical risks or issues contained in the business plan and provides the team with techniques for testing their hypotheses. The results of those tests then guide the decision to continue, pivot, or fundamentally rethink the plan.
It can be helpful to think of the new business you are creating as a rolling ball. As a new idea, the new business starts as a ball of insignificant mass and can be easily reshaped. Maybe the idea was initially targeted at the mid-market but after a discussion, it was deemed a mass-market product. Making a change at this stage is quick and inexpensive as the only investment so far is some time and the creation of a few short documents. As the ball begins to roll towards its intended market, three forces simultaneously act on it and cause it to increase in size and adjust its course. The three forces are the remaining three stages of the innovation lifecycle:
Roadmapping, Execution, and Commercialization. The interesting phenomenon is these three forces act simultaneously, not sequentially, i.e., during the roadmapping process the innovation team is also considering their build and commercialization plans, and how these plans may require adjusting the design of the product, channel, offer, or other aspect of the business they are building.
This simultaneous consideration of all aspects of a business requires the innovation be comprised of a mix of talents from all parts of the business. A purely sequential approach would have silos and handoffs, e.g., the Technology team would build the product, throw it over the transom to Marketing who would hand it to Sales and Operations. Each handoff is fraught with information loss and time delays, and the process lacks visibility to the market until it’s too late. All these problems are avoided by building the new business with a team representing all aspects of a business, right from the start.
Lastly, the Innovation Current State tool places a Talent lens on the organization, looking for how innovation is embedded in the company’s culture. Culture is a fundamental component of innovation and must be present across an organization, not just in the technology team. As previously mentioned, the innovation team must be staffed with a mix of talent from across the company representing the various disciplines required to build the business. Therefore, there must be innovation career paths in each function such as Marketing, Sales and Customer Experience to attract team members to engage with innovation.
Workshop 1, Current State, provides the innovation team with the tools to gain a solid grasp on how their company approaches