Why So Many Product Innovation Efforts Fail to Achieve Their Objectives
“We lack a focused, cohesive vision for our company. We want to do everything and be everything — to everyone. We’ve known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out. We are reactive instead of charting an unwavering course. We are separated into silos that far too frequently don’t talk to each other. And when we do talk, it isn’t to collaborate on a clearly focused strategy, but rather to argue and fight about ownership, strategies and tactics. … I’ve heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular.”
– Brad Garlinghouse, SVP at Yahoo! in a November 2006 internal memo leaked to the Wall Street Journal and later dubbed “The Peanut Butter Manifesto” (*)
“50% of all advertising is useless. We just don’t know which 50%.”
– David Ogilvy, legendary advertising executive and co-founder of Ogilvy and Mather
Product innovation is both a mantra and a mystical term. It is supposed to occur in one main organization – R&D, or Engineering – but also occurs in subsidiary areas such as product management, product marketing, professional services, outsourced/offshore developers, external partners, and sometimes even in internal end-user departments such as finance, legal, marketing, sales, or support. Unfortunately, the overall track record for innovation efforts in most tech companies is a spotty one, with horror stories everywhere of failed or failing efforts among the many development projects that do end in helping each company succeed.