Product managers are frequently the ones that are tasked with driving innovation within their organizations. This should not come as a surprise, given that product managers, particularly excellent product managers, have a profound awareness of the user personas for their products and any market gaps. This information can occasionally lead to entirely ground-breaking ideas.
However, the invention does not take place in a vacuum. Collaboration is the source of market information and ground-breaking ideas that ultimately lead to their development. Developing new products is a team sport that requires participation from many employees across the company.
Let’s talk about some strategies that product management teams may use to involve people from all company areas in the innovation process.
Make it exciting to share ideas and encourage participation from employees throughout the firm.
There is no telling where you will get the inspiration for your next fantastic product concept. For example, someone on your support team overheard a customer’s suggestion for an elegant solution to a problem experienced by many users. Unfortunately, that client did not express it as a concept; instead, it was merely a wish-list item or even a complaint that your organization does not already sell it.
Moments of epiphany like this can arise anytime and in any part of your organization. Therefore, use the potential for inspiration experienced by your sales, support, marketing, human resources, and even legal teams. When you encourage employees throughout your organization to bring you their product ideas, your staff will start to identify more possibilities for idea-generating moments like this as the firm moves forward.
Make this culture of creativity more enjoyable. Make a great deal out of awarding the ideas that were contributed by your coworkers and considered the finest.
Encourage innovative thinking in all aspects of the business, not simply the product portfolio.
Innovating a firm’s internal procedures, how the company obtains input from the market, or even how it arranges its office space can all be profitable endeavors for a business.
Seeking out and celebrating innovation wherever it might add value to the organization is an excellent strategy to boost the culture of innovation inside an organization. Once your staff starts looking for ways to grow your company through innovation, they will be more likely to come up with great ideas for your product portfolio as well, which is a bonus for product management because once they start looking for ways to grow your business, through innovation, won’t stop until they find them all! The ability to think creatively is infectious.
Make the organization aware of the tests conducted by your product team.
Showing people in your firm the things that your team is experimenting with your goods is an excellent approach to tap into the company’s collective creativity. Share the experiment you’ve created to add new functionality to the product without alerting your customers to determine whether or not they would react favorably to the change. Then, you must keep the company updated on the outcome, whether it is positive or negative.
Experiments of this kind that are shared within an organization are beneficial for that organization in a few different ways:
First, it will inspire them to develop experiments to better their processes and the areas of the company they are responsible for. That means there is a more significant opportunity for innovation.
Second, it will demonstrate to your coworkers in other departments that your product team considers failure an unavoidable part of the learning process and even an asset. Finally, showing your coworkers that your product trials do not always succeed will make sharing their ideas less daunting.
Encourage collaboration across functional boundaries by forming innovation teams.
Product management teams frequently fail to take full advantage of the diverse viewpoints and experiences available to them within their enterprises. For example, when it comes to your market, sales sees things differently than your marketing team, which sees things differently than your support teams, and everyone sees things differently when engineering and design are involved.
Combine some or all of these unique perspectives on your user personas, products, and market. You may occasionally come up with a fantastic idea that no single team working in a silo, and indeed no individual, would have thought of on their own.
Encourage cross-functional innovation teams to collaborate, think of new ideas, and share their one-of-a-kind experiences working in the company or speaking with customers if you can convince your senior management team to let you do so. If you are successful in this endeavor, it will be beneficial to your organization. You might very well hit the innovation jackpot right now.
Encourage a company-wide concentration on the vision for your firm, which should go beyond the things you sell.
When you focus on your products, you risk developing tunnel vision, a perspective that is too restricted to make room for the kinds of enormous, original ideas that could lead to massive success.
Therefore, as part of your effort to unlock your entire company’s innovative potential, you should encourage everyone to think of your company’s high-level vision, which is one big idea that should influence every decision your company makes. This will help you unlock the innovative potential of your entire company.
For instance, the mission statement of IKEA is to “create a better everyday living for many people.” Their vision is not restricted to the items they create, the way they arrange the retail stores in which they operate or any other aspect of the IKEA experience that stands on its own. To better people’s lives generally is a broad objective of this effort. And because of this, a significant amount of space is available for invention.
When you can inspire your coworkers to think in these high-level terms, you will help them tap into creativity that they may not be able to reach if they were thinking only narrowly about how to better your flagship product. This is because they will be thinking about the big picture.
It is important to remember that product managers are not always required to reinvent their products. Instead, sometimes the most effective use of a product team’s resources is to make minor but valuable enhancements to the products they already have and identify small but effective methods to provide better service to the consumers they already have.
On the other hand, when it comes time to innovate, product management should not attempt to do so independently. The most successful ideas are those that are the result of drawing on the collaborative creativity of a group.
Recognize efforts made by the entire firm, and reward them whenever you have the chance.