Product innovation is the creation and introduction of new, redesigned, or substantially improved products. Share This
Product innovation is the creation and introduction of new, redesigned, or substantially improved products.
It can be understood as:
- the practice of creating and introducing these products,
- the process that structures this practice,
- the system the practice takes place in.
Most popular accounts of product innovation focus on the first or the second interpretation, offering either a list of best practices or a set of process rules as guidelines to innovate successfully.
When understood as a system, product innovation is complex: it is not an aggregate of individual behaviour, but a dynamic network of interacting agents, strategies, artifacts and conditions. The agents and their strategies are not static, but adaptive: they constantly change in response to each other, to aggregate properties of the system and to external events. Thus, the practice and process of innovation are only part of, and highly dependent on, the system they take place in.
Product Thinking is a mindset and methodology for the design and management of product innovations. Share This
Product Thinking is a mindset and a methodology for the design and management of product innovations. It treats product innovation as a complex adaptive system and seeks to maximize the sustainable positive impact of product innovations on all of their stakeholders.
Due to feedback loops and the resulting nonlinear change, however, complex adaptive systems cannot be effectively steered in the way linear systems can be. This rules out the use of simple normative *methods* which would be suited to practice or process approaches to product innovation. Similarly, generic and reductionist *models* of innovation success fail to deliver reliable guidelines for decision-making since they cannot grasp specific system dynamics. Moreover, prescriptive methods and predetermined models decrease buy-in and increase reactance due to the lack of design-time stakeholder participation.
For these reasons, Product Thinking actively involves stakeholders and empowers them to
- develop and adapt specific models of the systems they are part of,
- use them to define, discuss, and align desired impacts,
- effectively steer product innovations to best achieve these impacts.
Thus, Product Thinking enables self-organization.
Collaborative sense-making is an inclusive and participative practice to foster understanding. Share This
Collaborative sense-making is an inclusive and participative practice to foster understanding and thus self-organization in complex adaptive systems. It helps stakeholders map their environment, locate themselves in it, identify interdependencies and interactions, develop and adapt shared mental models, express and align intentions, and thus enable and coordinate joint action.
Sense-making frameworks support this practice by organizing communication and facilitating discussion. Specifically, they
- define a conceptual space in which stakeholders can describe their environment and locate their position, perspective, interests, or activities,
- provide heuristics and guidelines that help collect, organize, interpret, and challenge facts and experiences for a systematic exploration of system dynamics,
- structure the process from framing and fact finding to analysis and decision-making in a way that maximizes participation and minimizes bias.
Well-known examples for sense-making frameworks are Dave Snowden’s 'Cynefin', Cynthia Kurtz’s 'Confluence', and Wilhelm Ulrich’s 'Critical Systems Heuristics'.
The Product Field is a sense-making framework for product innovation. Share This
The Product Field
The Product Field is a sense-making framework for product innovation.
In order to maximize stakeholder’s impact, it helps:
- frame thinking about product innovation with a conceptual space and visual representation that provide a common vocabulary,
- map the facts about product innovations inside this space and representation to create a shared big picture,
- check the validity and consistency of product innovations using a formalized grammar for innovation,
- find strengths and weaknesses, visualize patterns, and generate well-defined action items for all stakeholders.