The company was going through enormous change. Our generation 1 and 2 products were less of an inspiration to our customers now and we were beginning to lose market share. No longer could we sit back on our good name and trust that we would be the supplier of choice. It was now time to look to create the next generation product, the "Version 3".
Immediately we swung into new product development mode. So where do we start, we thought?
What is the key question that we need to ask ourselves before moving forward?
Ok, this is a trick question, because most company's in this position get it absolutely and completely wrong every time and yet the first question that needs answering is also the most important of the lot. The first question is always the killer question. Unanswered, everything else downstream, generally costs you more money, more social anguish and more credibility.
Suffice to say, the company decided to choose the wrong question. They chose, "how do we develop a business case to fund a new product development operation". The right question should have been", "Do the management team of the day, know what type of commercial strategy that this undertaking will require?". In fact this question was put to the executive team, but only after hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment had been expended. What they told us was that this particular project uses a "new product development" strategy and required a solid business case to support the investment.
What we told them was that this project required a "blue ocean" strategy and required a different management team.
Suffice to say, they were not best pleased. But they were at least left with a better version of where they were now.