In deciding where and how to compete, every organisation makes choices about the products and services they will offer, and the strategies they will pursue to get there. Having a well managed, systematised process to evaluate these choices is essential.
You likely have many more opportunities to pursue than your resources permit and research indicates that it is your ability to allocate resources based on project merit that most strongly determines your innovation performance.
A number of frameworks exist to aid prioritisation of the ideas for development. Their differences in rigour will impact on speed to market, and their suitability for deployment varies according to the scale and complexity of an organisation, the familiarity of the organisation with the product category and the level of risk the organisation is willing to bear. However all of them embody shared key concepts which are fundamental to achieving best practice in screening and ranking. The criteria employed ensure:
- strategic alignment of the idea to the organisational strategy
- factors contributing to product advantage / the delivery of customer value receive priority
- core competencies are considered alongside technical feasibility and commercial viability
An effective screening process should rapidly eliminate ideas that don’t meet core objectives and quantitative analysis and weighting is then used to rank the remaining ideas.
The single most important driver of profitability is the creation of a differentiated product that delivers unique benefits and a compelling value proposition. So it follows that the foundations of customer value should become important opportunity ranking criteria.
But how do you know what customers really value? Not only that, how do you know if what they value is currently not being fully addressed by other product and service offerings? The real opportunities can be defined as those jobs, outcomes or constraints that are both important and unsatisfied given the products and services available today.
Through well designed ethnographic research, not standard voice of the customer research, you need to evaluate:
- the importance of all the jobs, outcomes and constraints identified
- how satisfied they are with solutions available today to address those jobs, outcomes and constraints
With these inputs, a simple algorithm can be applied to determine the strength of the opportunity. Doing this well will avoid you from making unnecessary improvements to products or services that are already satisfying the market very well - which is clearly pointless and only opens you up to disruption - or from making improvements that satisfy unimportant outcomes.