Innovation: Product Innovation Charter (PIC) helps prevent scope creep in technology and market

A Product Innovation Charter (PIC) can help prevent scope creep for both the technology and market dimensions. The PIC is supposed to have guidance from top management to the innovation team about the market focus and the technology focus that the multi-disciplinary team should try to maintain. Here is how both these focus points are derived:

  • The Technology Focus in the PIC document comes from the Strength /Weaknesses  evaluation part of the SWOT analysis. Here the organizational leaders are taking a hard look at internal resources of intellectual property, known technology, supplier and partner knowledge alliances that might be possible to marshal. They also try to build up an “avoid” list of technologies/platforms for which they do not have the skills or think that the particular technology does not appear to have a great future.Merely articulating the Technology Focus is really helpful to the Innovation team that have folks from Production, Procurement and Supply Chain, Finance and of course Marketing and Sales. 
  • The Market Focus: The Marketing and Sales folks are ones who need to provide input to this one in the PIC and once formulated agree to be guided by it. Top management might identify Opportunities and Threats in the market ( the OT of the SWOT) and identify some great market segments to target. Issues like how easy it will be to cater to the market from a branding sense, a distribution sense and a competitor sense even with a winning product needs to be in-built into the focus of the market. For example, a new brand  building exercise might take millions which is fine if the PIC has a sense of what the organization can afford. On the other hand, a brand extension might come in much cheaper and merely articulating it in the PIC can help keep the later marketing, sales and later advertising on track.

The New Product Development (NPD) team should have the approved PIC document, including the Market and Technology Focus clearly posted at meetings, work place and documents. A periodic ” organizational reality” check against the PIC will be helpful in avoiding scope creep like let’s get that market too and let’s get that technology – we’ll learn it after we license it.. type of thinking. 

However, the above does not mean that the PIC is carved in stone. If the innovation project encounters serious constraints top management might be asked to modify some of the PIC guidelines. Just reviewing potential violations of the PIC will engage top management in the particular innovation project and if modified, the PIC will become stronger and more aligned to the mission of the organization. About StratoServe.

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