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How the Four Pillars of Innovation Reduce Product Development Risk

greece-1594689_640Product innovation is the motor of a thriving manufacturing business. Without it, businesses and products get stuck in the past, unable to compete with competitors. 

But developing new products and innovating current offerings comes at a cost. The cost to research, develop, and launch successful new products has rapidly increased in recent years.

As a small- or mid-sized manufacturer, how can you limit the technical and financial uncertainty that comes with an innovation?

The short answer: It takes a systematic approach to innovation through multiple aspects of the change. More specifically, our phased approach involves 10 steps across four pillars that efficiently accelerate a concept from idea to marketplace. 

Discover how adopting this approach across four concurrent pillars—inventing and innovating, intellectual property, manufacturing, and marketing—lessens technical difficulties and financial uncertainty during innovation.

Inventing and Innovating

At the center of any product, process, or technological innovation is the idea. Will your idea boost revenues or improve efficiencies? If so, how do you know?

To remove the risk involved with taking that step, the idea must be improved, refined, and tested. The following 10 steps remove some of the financial risk that can often accompany a big innovation:

  1. Discover an idea.
  2. Brainstorm the details.
  3. Qualify its viability with others.
  4. Prototype the product.
  5. Engineer the prototype.
  6. Test the prototype.
  7. Perfect the model with manufacturing and marketing teams.
  8. Anticipate problems and formulate solutions.
  9. Prove the product’s relevancy to customers.
  10. Improve the invention’s potential.

Intellectual Property 

Is your idea entirely new and unique? A thorough intellectual property (IP) search can expose this to prevent costly IP infringement problems down the road.

Take this scenario as a precautionary tale: Wanli Tire, a tire manufacturer in China, lost a lawsuit after it infringed on the tread pattern of the Bridgestone Corporation’s Duler A/T REVO 2 tires for sports utility vehicles. The suit required Wanli Tire to pay approximately 600,000 Chinese yuan (about $88,000) to Bridgestone, and also required the Chinese tire manufacturer to dispose of all products and related molds (likely costing thousands more).

To prevent massive infringement costs, work through with these 10 phases related to intellectual property:

  1. Learn about IP, patents, and other types of protection.
  2. Search for IPs related to your idea.
  3. Consult and hire attorneys.
  4. Learn about and write an application.
  5. Develop other relevant IP.
  6. Write/review a complete provisional patent application.
  7. File provisional application to preserve worldwide filing rights.
  8. File an additional IP document.
  9. Scope out international market potential.
  10. File permanent AP.


Manufacturing a concept is where rubber meets the road. To expedite success—and limit wasted resources—step away from the drawing board and meetings to work directly with manufacturing employees and partners to develop a production process.

In short, these are the 10 steps related to manufacturing:

  1. Learn about various manufacturing processes.
  2. Brainstorm the best, most cost-effective process for your invention.
  3. Interview peers and colleagues for process advice.
  4. Qualify that output needs can be met.
  5. Get a commitment from necessary manufacturers and/or suppliers.
  6. Create model of the innovation.
  7. Test working models.
  8. Gear up for production.
  9. Ship initial run of orders.
  10. Expand manufacturing to meet customer needs.


In the words of McKinsey, “Engaging customers today requires commitment from the entire company.” Everything a business does requires customer engagement.

Marketing should get involved long before a product is first manufactured. Just as you consider how the product will be manufactured early on helps capitalize on resources, it is critical to understand how potential buyers will respond to a product. Are there elements of the idea that must be altered, refined, or completely changed? To find out, ask customers.

Marketing’s 10 steps to innovation: 

  1. Learn essential marketing techniques.
  2. Brainstorm various sales methods and product uses.
  3. Interview sales and marketing teams to verify market potential.
  4. Qualify the product’s expectations.
  5. Get a commitment and buy-in from sales and marketing.
  6. Package the product and create necessary sales resources.
  7. Verify the marketing plan with manufacturing.
  8. Sell the first units for initial testing.
  9. Oversee sales and customer services teams to answer questions.
  10. Expand marketing efforts.

What Are the Details of Each of These Steps? 

When taking a new product or product innovation from idea to marketplace, following the 10 steps above for each of the four pillars helps alleviate technical and financial risk. Learn more about each of the steps by contacting a MAGNET Growth Advisor for more information. 


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