Product Development: Innovate like Proctor & Gamble

Wow.  I came across an article in Inc. magazine that really impressed me.  It’s written by A.G. Lafley of P&G and the business auther Ram Charan.  It is very, very good and it’s a must read for anyone who understands the need for innovation in companies of all shapes and sizes.

The article walks you through the steps of a hypothetical company with 4m in revenue and 30 employees.  

P&G relies on innovation to drive growth; and, yes, it has developed a very effective arsenal of programs, processes, and techniques to generate ideas andconvert them into revenue. It has no choice. P&G operates in more than 150 countries with 85 on-the-ground operations, and it has 138,000 employees in 21 business divisions. This diversification, complexity, and bureaucracy can become innovation’s enemies. Small companies may seem like backyard swing sets by comparison, but backyard swing sets are where children’s imaginations roam free. In fundamental ways, small companies have significant advantages over large corporations when it comes to innovation. Where small companies generally fall down, however, is in building disciplines around the creation, capture, and execution of new ideas. Most small companies develop from a single great notion, usually the brainchild of a brilliant founder. But entrepreneurs can’t afford to remain the sole font of innovation at their businesses any more than they can remain the sole salesperson. Nor can they rely on the passions of their staff and the mental sparks created when 30 people interact each day in close quarters. Innovation requires work. Workrequires structure. For companies,invention is 1 percent inspiration, 49 percent perspiration, and 50 percent smart routine.

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