Innovation Basics: 3 Product Development issues and how to solve them

By Michael Watkins

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Changing the world, one idea at a time has to start somewhere. Even the organizations that regularly bring about revolutionary change had a first step to take on their journey. In the Innovation Basics series, we focus exclusively on what that first step could look like for newcomers to the innovation world. Follow this guidance to achieve faster, better innovation.

One of the best ways that organizations can gain advantage over competitors is through developing great new products. In 2011, Dr. Clay Christensen wrote that nearly 30,000 new products are launched annually and, as manufacturing and distribution continues at pace, that figure will only have snowballed in the years since.

Product Development is not an exact science, though. If anything, the quicker the turnaround from one product launch to the next makes the price of failure a bigger, less manageable one. This leads to companies getting trapped in a dilemma – between knowing that new products are the best way to compete and being risk averse as they are asked to do more with less money.

Product Development Issues:

Throughout our history, Wazoku has worked with many organizations that are struggling to maximize the potential of new product development. It’s a task that has many challenges, and these hurdles often point to underlying, more foundational issues.

We believe that most of these new product development hurdles can be split into three categories:

  • Development Timeline: if this is too long, it means falling behind on customer expectations.
  • Inward Focus: solving internal issues is always a good idea, but don’t do it at the expense of exploring external opportunities for growth.
  • Failure to Learn: many businesses produce reports on past product development failings, but few put the necessary changes in place to avoid history repeating itself.

How to Solve These Issues:

Across everything we’ve discussed so far, it’s clear that a failure to balance maximizing existing projects while exploring new opportunities is widespread. Companies that do both are known as ‘ambidextrous’ organizations.

Moving toward this ‘ambidexterity’ enables businesses to build a product development program with less risk and more success. Some key ways of developing this ambidexterity include:

  • Open Competitions: using this, a company can discover who in its network already has new product proposals to explore.
  • Internal Incubators: this involves making the organization’s internal scope for product innovation more robust and better equipping the internal crowd for innovation Challenges.
  • Opportunity Scouting: turning the focus to opportunities that may exist outside the business network (or even the entire industry) opens up new product development ideas to explore.


In this blog, we’ve discussed the topic of new product development. We’ve illustrated how the current business landscape makes it both an essential competitive tool and a risky endeavor. We’ve then identified the three categories into which most product development issues fall and outlined how to solve them.


Read the next blog in our Innovation Basics series: 3 key reasons for improving customer experience

Want to know more?

See how you can develop new products quicker, better and with less risk

By Michael Watkins

Michael is Wazoku's Product and Brand Marketing lead. Away from the office, he's our resident film buff, so if you want some recommendations for a night in front of Netflix or a trip to your local cinema, get in touch with him!