Building a Winning Innovation Portfolio

If You Build It, They Will (Not Always) Come

Discussions about “innovation” often center on the latest new gadget, and indeed the transformative way technology is changing the way we communicate is amazing. All industries are dependent on innovation and do it regularly. But only about 10% of new products ultimately succeed.  One challenge that explains the gap: the innovation process in many organizations lacks focus.

Actions speak louder than words

The crucial part of building any innovation portfolio is to pay attention to what people DO versus just what they SAY. People almost uniformly say they want to eat healthier and lose weight, but the body mass index has increased in the US without interruption for over 25 years. My experience in the Food and Beverage industry is that over 90% of new products fail because they do not make a meaningful and significant difference in the lives of consumers. The fundamental mistake many companies make when innovating is they have an “inside out” versus “outside in” strategy: “what can WE make?” instead of “what does the CONSUMER need and how do we make it?”

Define the unique benefit your brand owns

No matter what industry you work in, your brand needs to be built around a winningvalue proposition. All brands have a value proposition, whether it is overt or not. But what distinguishes a winning value proposition is your brand’s ability to own a unique benefit. Once you have defined that asset, it becomes much easier to build an innovation portfolio around the benefit you want to uniquely own.

Identify the Desired Consumer Benefit

Once you have identified the benefit that is highly relevant to your targeted segment, you can develop the “Desired Consumer Experience” (DCE) or, if you are B2B, the “Desired Customer Experience”.  The DCE is the pinnacle of that benefit you want to own that is thought to be out of reach, or even unimaginable. You don’t need to hit that goal with one transformative idea. Every innovation you build should get you closer to the top. You may never actually reach that dream innovative product that captures the DCE, but consumers will reward the brand that gets closest.

Brainstorm with focus

Now, with your benefit identified, and your DCE clearly stated, you can have productive brainstorming sessions that you can be confident will produce actionable, innovative ideas. With a focus on ideas that deliver the brand benefit you’ve determined is highly relevant and that get you closest to the DCE, you will build a portfolio that is far more successful.


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