Being Good at Innovation Starts with Being Good at Product

Corporate innovation is a hot topic. Companies, especially enterprises, are chasing the elusive state of being innovative. It’s easy to call yourself innovative when your company boasts a cool office space and the latest ergonomic chairs. But to truly be innovative is hard and most won’t succeed. Why? Because a company cannot be good at innovation until it is good at product.

Being good at product doesn’t mean you never have misses. Creating anything, including digital products and software, is an exercise in progress, not perfection. The first step towards innovation is the ability to understand a high-value problem and then deliver the simplest possible solution to achieve a desired outcome that provides customer value.

Attempting to innovate without being good at product is akin to planning a trip to fly around the world without knowing how to fly a plane. You know where you are headed, but have no ability to manifest it. Having a successful product discipline gives a company the opportunity to be innovative. Without it, there is virtually no chance.

It is no mystery that the companies best at product excel at innovation. The principles of being good at product and innovation are the same; what innovation adds is the intent to disrupt, and potentially cannibalize, a company’s (or an industry’s) existing model to drive desired business outcomes and customer/user value.

Attempting to be innovative without being good at product is a hollow journey with no real outcomes. You feel like you are accomplishing something, and it allows you to talk a good game, but it won’t drive the outcomes you seek. Being good at product provides the substance and execution ability to your innovation practice.

Want to be better at innovation? Develop a successful product discipline and get good at product first.

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