This content relates to : NEW PRODUCT & SERVICE DEVELOPMENT


Adopt a Total Innovation Perspective, i.e., define innovation broadly to encompass 3 forms:

– Continuous Improvements: minor improvements to current products.

– Incremental Improvements: moderately difficult to develop improvements.

– Big Bang Ideas: longer-term, high-risk innovations.

These principles address NPD “not being a tactic in search of an enduring strategy”

Peter Klein ‘68 and Harvard Business School (MBA, ‘71). He founded PK Associates, a consumer products focused growth management consultancy after serving as Corporate Officer at The Gillette Company and at Nabisco Holdings Corp. He co-authored the book THINK TO WIN — Unleashing the Power of Strategic Thinking, published by McGraw-Hill He holds two patents and Advertising Age recognized him as one of “10 Innovators” in 2005 and described his contributions to marketing as having “a pivotal role in reshaping package-goods marketing over the past quarter century.”

Hello, I’m Peter Klein  

In my experience, there is no silver bullet to innovation. Importantly, it can start with how a company defines and activates innovation. Most companies in my experience define innovation specifically relating to developing new products or services.   

Today, I want to stress the importance of thinking about and adopting a Total Innovation Perspective across all growth management related jobs and activities including, but not only the marketing of current brands, products, services, and developing and introducing new products or services. My view is based on almost five decades of managing and leading corporate strategy and growth management, including established brand marketing and new products at companies like Gillette and Nabisco, plus many US and global consulting assignments, across over 40 of the top 50 consumer product companies. Total innovation is the process of generating and delivering Continuous, Incremental, and Big Bang ideas for product and service companies and transforming them into workable solutions that build value across and down the entire organization not only in marketing, not only in technology, not only in R&D. Notice I did not say total innovation relates solely to marketing and to developing new products or services. 

While it does include marketing current brands and new product development, total innovation is a process impacting every function and every department at a company. Folks working in every department can be innovative in what they do everyday and assuring they focus mostly on things that can make a difference. To elaborate briefly, continuous improvements help companies, what I call, tread water by making minor improvements to current products or services, or by replacing products that are coming off out of the market or making minor functional product improvements to the service or product offering or in any of the development processes. In baseball terms, I refer to these as bunt singles, Texas leaguers. It’s continuous improvement. It’s usually low cost, easy to do, fairly fast to do and more junior people can make it happen. Incremental improvements, again, in baseball terms, I refer to them as doubles, are moderately difficult to develop, mostly additive to sales and profits and take longer to operationalize than continuous improvements.   

Finally, Big Bang ideas are longer-term to develop, often requiring major development time and investment, with lower odds of being both a marketing and financial success. Again, in baseball terms they’re what I refer to as triples or home runs. In my experience, dependent on the company, the sector, the industry, somewhere between a minimum of 5, if not 15, to maybe even 20 percent of all new product or service development activity should be focused on Big Bang ideas. When total innovation is done well, it delivers consumer and customer value and leadership faster, better, and more completely than competition. Highly innovative companies grow faster. But real innovation is extremely difficult because there are significant external and internal barriers. And practicing Total Innovation as a process must be valued and continually endorsed by senior management or it will not happen beyond typical ad hoc opportunistic activity specific to new product or service development. And certainly won’t happen across all other functional departments.   

Thank you.   

Peter Klein, ’68

Founder, PK Associates