On bucking the trend…

Making a difference by design…

On bucking the trend…

Question: Should I be investing in product development right now?
Well, I guess that depends on your financial situation, if you’re about to wind down the business, no maybe not. But for everyone else the answer should be Yes!

Having a regular cadence of new products is important. It’s the long term life blood of any organisation.
It’s what keeps you ahead of the competition. And it makes it so much easier for the sales team to knock on doors when they have some ‘new news’ to share.

Having regular new product launches also creates the perception of being a vibrant and progressive company. Which helps to retain staff and to attract the best new talent to the company because it’s an exciting place to work.

Who doesn’t want to work for Apple? 

Ultimately, of course the goal of product development is to drive company growth, customer value and return to the companies shareholders.

So should you be investing in product development right now?

Well, can you afford not to? Especially now?

To me, now is the time to create new news and to improve. What the current situation offers is a chance to think, to improve.

What are new ways that we can create new income streams? What improvements can we (should we) make in our processes and products? Anything that’s been a bit of a headache for a while? Now is the time to get it sorted.

Why? Because you you’ll need to stay relevant. (Now is a great time to get that eco-packaging project implemented. Anything better for the planet is good news.)

And you might need to diversify and reduce risk (which might come in a different shape than you think, see my post on strategy & risk).

Redesigning and improving products and processes (for more efficient manufacturing) might also be a chance to reduce cost and increase margins. Or to improve performance. Which might come back in more subtle positive news like less rework or less time needed to attend to customer complaints or to prepare audits.

And more ‘sticky’ products – products people love to buy again and again.

You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again – you’ll get passed.
Sitting still never got anyone forward.

But to me the key reason to invest in product development right now is because you’ll be bucking the trend.

I’m reading a lot of this in the news:  “The two main areas likely to be hit long-term by budget cuts are marketing and research and development.”

Go and do the opposite. Stand out! Invest in marketing (get your name out there, deliver great service) and in R&D. And be clever how you go about it. Both can be done on a tiny budget. (We’ve all seen great marketing examples, e.g. the hotel that stayed open over lockdown for the 1 elderly long time client who got ‘stuck’ in NZ. Their loving care delivered them fantastic PR.)

For many, you’ve got a PD team already. Make the most of the investment. Be smart about how you do your research and development. You can learn on a tiny budget. And it might be faster too. Just need to be a little creative. And ask ‘How might we?’.

If you have a PD team, now is the time to make sure they’ve got the best set up, structure, tools and skills to develop a consistent flow of profitable new products. Having a PD team is an investment in the future. Make sure you get the best returns out of that investment! I find that set up, structure and skills are like 3 dials on a safe. You need to have each ‘clicked’ in place to be able to open the safe and a world of goodness. Often the dials are only a few degrees off. A few little tweaks can make all the difference!

New products touch all of your team, not just the PD team and production. On it’s way from idea through development and delivery in the market the project touches almost everyone’s desk in the company.
It makes everyone smile.

“If product development flows, everyone is happy.” 

And trying something new is good for the soul, even if it doesn’t work, you’ll learn. And learning is what keeps you ahead and focused.

Or like James Mellor of The US Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences states: Companies (and civilizations) have little choice but grow and improve if we want to move from survival to thriving. The new products and services created and provided by companies of all sizes provide the mechanism for this growth and improvement. What are you and your firm doing to improve?

Go make a trail!

Let’s design for the better!

Onwards & upwards,



About Saskia

Saskia is a new product development expert. She helps organisations to unlock their potential to consistently deliver new products faster, better, more profitable and with more fun.

P.S. – Here are five ways I can help you to make a difference by design:
(1) Set up a time to talk, give me a call (021-68 49 68) or send me an email.
(2) Download my “Product Development Warriors’ whitepaper. Find it here!
(3) Sign up to my newsletter.
(4) Connect with me on LinkedIn, you’ll also find me regularly posting there.
(5) Forward this email to a colleague.