What About Your Job Is Keeping You Up at Night?

When you are new to doing corporate research, there are lots of growth opportunities and learning opportunities.

sleep deprivedWhere do you need help? What new challenges are you facing? What are the stressors? What is causing these challenges? Where do you feel you are least prepared to meet the challenges of the corporate world?

We researchers are always working to solve other people’s problems – customers or production operations. Who is working on your problems? Where can you turn for help? Ask around. You may be surprised at how many resources your company has to help you.

Understanding Competitive Products

Putting together a competitive product table can be a real eye opener for anyone developing a new product. Product attributes include not only the traditional requirements but also any post purchase support (including warranties and customer support phone numbers). It also includes any regulations or industry standards that have to be met in order to have a saleable product.

tableThis competitive product matrix allows one to see some of the product attributes that everyone needs to be able to play in this market and those that are differentiation points. It is also something that can be used in conjunction with the knowledge of the product segments that competitors are currently selling into.

Perhaps their product is over engineered for the requirements of that market segment. This might be an opportunity to enter the market with a lower performing product that will still meet the needs of a market segment.

Making The Transition

Many development projects require significant research effort early on. At the same time that you are developing a technical understanding of your product; your commercial counterpart is learning more about the customer’s needs and expectations. Because new information is being learned in the marketplace constantly, you can expect that the performance requirements for the product you are developing will also change over time.

change_aheadIt can be very frustrating to a researcher when the required product performance keeps changing. But each product experiment helps you build an intuitive understanding of performance. Over time you will be able to quickly modify the product formulation for the required product performance. The Design of Experiment models and your understanding of the product can significantly shorten the time to develop ongoing modifications of your product – maybe only one or two experiments!   This is a great time saver and competitive advantage in the race to market your new product.

Computer programs can help you determine which experiment to run next but are no substitute for an intuitive understanding by a researcher for product performance. Computers can’t think of new possibilities beyond the factors that they have in them – but humans can.

It’s important to be able to discuss possibilities and ideas as part of your contributions to the team. You won’t always just be reactive (responding to make a product with a specific targeted level of performance). You will also need to be able to discuss what could be possible with the product to help open further discussion with customers for possible enhanced performance of your product.

Creating Order from Chaos

All start up ventures work to figure out the business model for success of their venture. This includes the product itself, the performance required, and the customers who are target purchasers. This also includes how to efficiently reach those customers, sell to them, manufacture the products, and then deliver those products.

Help in Estimating Revenue For New Products

There are two common ways of estimating potential revenue for a new product – top down and bottom up. In the bottom up approach, development teams identify specific customers that they will target for sales. They then use a series of questions such as those below to help build a more realistic timeline for sales:

Importance of Team Members in Motivation over the Tough Spots

The other day I was working with members of my condo group to cut down dead trees and move them to the road for the scheduled city pick-up. It wasn’t work that I enjoy doing so I had planned to work for about an hour and then move on.

Recognizing What Drains Our Energy

The other day I started a major cleanup of my office – the type I do every few years. I am usually good for about 15-20 minutes of working on it before I get tired of making decisions to toss stuff. Then I simply decide to keep everything, which is really just delaying or avoiding the decision.

Preparing to Give a Talk

The other day in one of my entrepreneurship classes, we watched part of a video by Amy Cuddy on how our actions can influence our minds. It is a fascinating video and she has a compelling story.

Networking at Events

I have been working with the students in one of my classes on the key in-person networking tools – name tags, business cards, and handshakes. The other day we had our campus wide New Venture Competition, which gave the students an opportunity to interact with other students, with mentors, and with investors who were on the judging panels.

Focusing on Potential Show Stoppers Earlier in the Development Process

Do you have a list of the potential show stoppers for your project?  These are the issues that, if not addressed, will ultimately lead to lack of commercial success of your product.  These can be anything – not factoring in competitive response to your entry, not having defensible patent protection, or not finding customers who have a need for your product.

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