Cooper (1992) talks about fifteen critical success factors for innovative products, based on the NewProd Study. In this short article, I want to describe several reasons why innovative projects fail.
- The product/service developed does not have a real competitive advantage against competing products (also substitutes) and does not offer any added value for the customer. In this case, you have to compete on price, which is often not possible for innovative products due to high R&D costs.
- The target market is unattractive and the product is not scalable to other markets (including the markets abroad).
- The necessary research on the target market, as well as financial and technical feasibility of the project had been skipped or insufficiently conducted before the project was pushed into the pipeline. There was too much rush in implementing the project. Think of the time-to-profit, not time-to-market.
- The product or service were not defined clearly from the start (including technical specifications, distribution channels and market positioning). I think the reason behind it is the desire to leave the side door open for sudden changes. But without any clear definition the project cannot be successfully managed by a cross-functional team.
- The project team members cannot (missing competencies) or are not willing (missing understanding) to work on the innovative project. The human factor must not be underestimated!
- The company has too many projects in the pipeline, the decisions to “kill” do not take place on time. This leads to the resources being spread too thinly and insufficient time and money granted to the potential winner projects.
- The organizational structure and the culture of the organization do not allow for the necessary flexibility in the innovative process. The innovative projects have no “advocates” in the company management.
Cooper, Robert. (1992). The NewProd System: The Industry Experience. Journal of Product Innovation Management. 9. 113-127. 10.1016/0737-6782(92)90003-U.