Yakima County Development Association - Companies that Innovate Adapt to Success

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Jean publishes a blog called the Enterprise Corner.  It features articles on entrepreneurship, local industry trends, manufacturing news and periodic ‘toolbox’ articles showcasing assistance, incentives and other resources for local businesses.

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Companies that Innovate Adapt to Success

April 26, 2011

Companies that innovate and are proactive can break into new markets or stay ahead of their competitors, instead of reacting and then scrambling to keep up. I just met with one of our local manufacturers who has consistently come up with ways to make its process 'lean' and strives to offer new products that meet evolving customer needs.  This particular company is fairly small so the President is the research and development department.  Another interesting strategy is that since they have developed a unique item, they can't just order new machinery, so they are actually in the process of inventing a new machine to automate part of their production process. Companies that also develop an innovation strategy can be more successful rather than relying on someone to magically come up with the next product line that is going to propel them ahead of their competitors.

I recently attended a three day, intense workshop on learning how companies can spark innovation and quickly evaluate whether a new product/idea/service is worth trying to commercialize.   One of the most valuable lessons of attendees that I talked to was for companies to learn to "Fail Fast, Fail Cheap" a term coined by Doug Hall, marketing guru and former product developer for Procter & Gamble. Hall has developed a process called Innovation Engineering, which essentially helps companies learn to constructively brainstorm and also uses a process to quickly summarize, identify and evaluate whether a new product/idea/service is worth spending more time and money on.  Class exercises also included learning how to define and explain features versus benefits of  a product, be able to briefly summarize what a product is and why a customer should buy it, and determine realistic numbers of market share and above all, if it will be profitable. Start-ups can learn from this process as well.

An entrepreneur with an idea needs to be able to describe his/her product in one sentence, describe the benefits and answer the all-important question of the consumer - "Why should I care?". There are resources available to learn this process - give us a call if you are interested in learning more.


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