Innovate or die

Date of publication: September 1, 1994


This paper explores, describes and evaluates a number of models used in stimulating innovation, with special application to NPD and brand stretching. It is not intended to be a market research paper as such but instead builds on the author's experience as a planner and strategic modeler, together with a review of past and new practice in the process of NPD - the fusion of strategic thinking, market survey information of various kinds, and creativity. A number of different models and techniques are described and briefly shown, covering various backgrounds: from those used by idea-generating consultancies such as Faith Popcorn, via those using synectics skills, or academic disciplines, or morphological analyses. Some of their disciplines may be new - and some are actually quite venerable, but in a new guise. The paper also contains discussion about how and why such techniques have become more widespread in recent months: is it post-recession thinking, or the realisation that innovation is indeed the source of future corporate health and growth, or a lesson learned from the Japanese, or just a current management fashion? - or indeed a combination of all of these. From the researcher’s perspective, there may be little new in pure research technique terms, but in management philosophy there is much food for thought. Some tentative pointers for the future are discussed: particularly the need to speed up, or short-circuit, the traditional NPD process, and the need to allow NPD to access the really new, the really distinctive and the unknown.

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