I recently read a blog about the power of one word. Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions (that are most likely going to fail), the author recommends focusing each year on a one-word theme. If we choose a relevant word, we make decisions and take actions coincident with that theme. In this way we can make personal and professional growth.
Think about is as a one-word strategy. Recall that strategy sets the direction and scope of all our projects. We can use the one-word theme to set a course of action and to develop specific plans to accomplish goals envisioned by the one word.
Suppose you choose the word innovation as your one-word theme. Dictionary.com defines innovation as “something new or different introduced.” In new product development (NPD), we consider innovation as a new product, feature, service, or business model that brings value to the customer, consumer, user, and producer. Based on these definitions, how can innovation as a strategy frame your business?
A company that is perceived as innovative – such as Apple – goes beyond just the product attributes and features. An innovative company integrates the user experience as part of the product development effort. User experience extends past the technical development and sales transaction into the customer service arena and ongoing quality improvement. An innovative company does not stand still and prevents the competition from overtaking it.
Another good one-word theme for a business is quality. Quality should be a part of every firm’s strategy because quality goes hand-in-hand with a competitive advantage. In today’s globally-connected marketplaces, higher quality products will win over cheap substitutes.
Though a company may choose to focus on quality as a strategic theme, it cannot address quality in isolation. Quality is defined by the customer. Therefore, frequent and routine measurement of quality as customer satisfaction is required to be successful with a quality strategy. Customers will expect a certain baseline of quality and will desert a brand if quality is not maintained and continuously improved. (Check out our post on our parent site, www.globalnpsolutions.com, regarding how to improve quality through a Process Improvement Project.)
Finally, reliability is another succinct but broad word to capture strategy in a single theme. Reliability means that a system, process, or entity is dependable in accuracy, honesty, and achievement. Customers will always seek initial quality but will become repeat purchasers only if they view the brand as reliable.
An example might be helpful. Any new car on the lot looks shiny and comfortable compared to a 15-years old jalopy. Most cars today have fancy gadgets, like lane departure warning systems, built-in GPS, and hands-free calling and texting. These are features that most consumers would request as a definition of a quality and modern car.
A reliable car, on the other hand, is one you are still driving down the road after 150,000 miles. The systems work as they should after 15 years – the A/C provides cold air to the interior, the fuel pump delivers fuel in the right ratio to the engine, and the valves open and close missing air and fuel over and over again. Reliability has to do with the future and a user’s expectations of the product’s performance at that time.
Your One-Word Theme
Innovation, quality, and reliability. Each of these themes directs a business strategy in a simple, concise manner. A company or project team can focus its work, effort, and resources on activities, tasks, and deliverables that support the ideas of the one-word theme. Every decision should be evaluated in light of the one word.
If a company wants to be viewed as innovative, do new products create desired value for the consumer and the organization? If a firm wants to build a reputation of quality, do the systems support metrics driving continuous improvement? Or if the organization wants to establish itself as a reliable partner, how does it build the future operation and customer expectations into products today?
You can learn more about strategy and innovation with certification training in New Product Development Professional (NPDP) workshops including an affordable self-study course or in a customized face-to-face training session. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-280-8717 for information on new product development training or professional management coaching. We also offer several options for Project Management Professional (PMP) training and practice test questions, including setting an innovation strategy. At Simple-PDH, we want to make it simple for you to study, learn, and earn and maintain your professional certifications.
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