Part 5 again of the story about Harry, product manager at a producer of gas fireplaces. Because the government strives for a climate-neutral society, Harry and his colleagues have a lot to do. How does the company maintain a good market position? And how do you ensure that all employees keep their jobs in a changing market? For Harry it is clear: innovation is the solution.
Harry has already had a long search. He did an exploration of the technical possibilities and the associated points of attention. Today he will share his findings with Maarten, the technical director. What does he think about new developments?
Harry has processed his search in a PowerPoint presentation, in which he has worked out all possibilities and technical specifications in detail. Of course he has not forgotten the input from customers and internal contacts. This complete picture should convince its technical director, you might say. An additional advantage: it is a good basis for sparring together about innovation and digitization. Off to the boardroom!
Maarten listens carefully to Harry’s story. As expected, his first questions are about the costs and the chance of success. A tricky point, because it remains to be said exactly what the investment is and whether it will be successful. What is certain is that it is a unique learning path and that the company must respond to social changes in any case. Martin agrees. Of course he has also thought about it, but there are no concrete plans for the future from the management.
Maarten is willing to discuss Harry’s proposal with the other board members, but then he needs more information to convince them. The figures and market surveys are nice and useful, but they will also provoke discussion. And there will be questions. Such as: does the company have all the knowledge, time and capacity to make new products? In addition, there must also be more clarity about the investment. According to Maarten, the proposal is not yet concrete enough.
Make it concrete with a prototype
Harry was secretly waiting for that comment. “Let’s build a prototype. That is a tangible product and not a theoretical model. It is then immediately clear to the board members what we are talking about. And we also know approximately how much money, time and manpower it costs to build.” “Good plan,” says Maarten. “I’ll let you know how much budget you get and then you can get started quickly.”
Start with a program of requirements (and wishes)
Harry walks into Jan’s office, head of Engineering, wearing a beaming smile. “We’re going to do it: we’re going to build a prototype!” Jan raises his eyebrows. ‘That is nice. But do we already know what exactly we are going to make? What are the specifications? What requirements must the prototype meet? And how do we want to process and visualize the data we obtain? Is it via WiFi or Bluetooth?’
Harry’s grin disappears. He does of course have a rough idea of what the prototype should do, but the specific technical details go above and beyond his technical knowledge.
Jan proposes to first draw up a program of requirements. In this they lay down the hard requirements. They put the other wishes under the heading ‘nice to have’. Jan and Harry grab the flipchart and list all the requirements and wishes, so that there is an overview and focus. Now that that’s clear, they need to answer the next question: do they have the expertise to build the prototype themselves?
Alone you go fast; together you get further
John has doubts. He would prefer to carry out this project with his own people. After all, engineers are happy when they come up with new products. His concern is mainly due to the fact that no one in the department has sufficient knowledge of electronics and connectivity. Perhaps collaborating with a specialized party is a better idea. But with whom? And what can you expect from an external party?
We’ll tell you that in the next blog.
Innovation is learning and doing
Like Harry, you will encounter more and more questions when looking for an innovative solution. You look at different options, you research and inventory and you learn from the insights you encounter on your path. And then you start convincing people and include them in the process.
In the following blogs we will tell you how things are going with Harry. Your question may not be the same as his, but your innovative process does look similar. So keep following Harry. And if you have any questions about your specific situation or if you want to know more about safety electronics or the possibilities of digitization, please contact us.
Dennis Wissink has over 20 years of experience in the technical secondment. He is co-founder of Xelvin (internationally operating in technical secondment). He lead this company for 9 years as CEO. Where he has gained experience with company strategy and startup new concepts, offices and companies. Specialities are strategic development, Design Thinking and business Models.
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