In my time as a technical person within a manufacturer, i invented and developed many new products, some from my own ideas, some from other people, and just a few from Think Tanks, or brain storming sessions.
The article below is the beginnings of a lecture I am putting together for manufacturers, to consider hiring the expertise of a consultant like me, who are experienced in new product development, to lead them down an alternative R&d path trying to look at the internal ways they have relied on for product generation, or not, to consider their own market and those around them, to take a deep look at their own Think Tank.
All construction component manufacturers should at least once a year preferably a lot more frequently, sit together and freely discus the existing product range and possible development to this range together with what products might be added or replace the range.
Making that decision is the first step, but, and its that word again, but, here starts the problems :
- The Staffs inability to freely discus the range,
- This might be related to the knowledge base he or she has,
- Fear, of being shown up, to not not wanting to criticise existing products,
- Fear of their boss.
- limited market knowledge
- The managements inability to let go
- To ridged an atmosphere
- The list can go on and on………………
The list can go on, simply making the decision to discus the range is good, but the ongoing ability to do this suddenly wains and so often the idea falls apart, or worse is added to the end of a sales meeting.
There is a better way, and that is to hire an external consultant to take a look at the company product range, internal training, if any, literature and marketing and evaluate it, not just the present range, but new products, current and alternative markets
One route the consultant might take is to form an initial small limited group outside the confines of the office or factory, to tease and coax ideas and concepts out of the team, the idea here is to see what level of expertise the team has, its not about ideas that might change the world, but a fact finding mission to see what makes the leaders tick, you might just get some good leads, but thats not the goal here. I have done this so many times, and is the real reason for independent consultant, to take time to evaluate the leaders. It might be the company has a Leonardo within it’s ranks and not know it. this first meeting is the time to look for the real people who can add products, and if its there, the blocks.
Next it’s time for the consultant to take this meetings notes and look at ways of developing and leading the team to new highs, offering ways of looking at their products and showing them alternative concepts and methods.
So often manufacturers are limited in the construction knowledge, they consider them selfs to be experts in their field, and some are, but most are not, they disregard so many peripheral products as meaningless, not part of their profit margin, they loose sight of the real world. Their literature shows this. Perhaps the worst culprits are manufacturers trying to break in to new markets, limiting expenditure, not wanting to commit.
A good technical consultancy, and here I add the word technical for the first time, should start to widen this knowledge base, looking at their market, their research and note keeping methods, and above all, the ways of storing new concepts and ideas, its not alway the case and existing product line can travel well.
Next comes the pitch, the way new ideas are formulated, costed and evaluated. and by who, all the above work, might come to an abrupt end if it goes to a committee where any block might reside, this might be the “not invented here” block, or simply how can outsiders possibly understand a market we have been part of for so long. or my budget……….
So this stage needs to be confined to a single leader, the MD or equivalent, who should sign off on a range of ideas, and allow then to at least get to the next stage of evaluation, that of trials and lab testing.
The article now can be expanded, and the Think tank idea expanded, I will add sections at later dates that will form a complete presentation.
Todays photo is of out stair covering, its been down a week, and taken some heavy traffic, yet still remains in place protecting, I looked up the product at several distributors and a roll is less than £15, lasting quite a time, and well worth even the smallest contractor considering.