Innovations to be thankful for – the importance of the NPD process

Innovations to be thankful for - the importance of the NPD processAs 2012 comes to a close,  it is hard not to think of all that we have to be thankful for. In the past year there have been some incredible new innovations revolutionizing the way people live their lives. After countless hours spent planning, researching, designing, and testing; what was once an idea, becomes a tangible reality.

Implementing innovation depends on a disciplined strategy customized to the needs, size and culture of an organization.  Innovation can be incremental, which features a new process or way of doing business, or it can be transformative, which delivers an entirely new way to add value.

Now is a good time to reflect on some of 2012’s best new ideations. Read on for a list of five amazing innovations that have been granted the prestigious Edison Award in 2012 (

Nest Learning Thermostat by Nest

Several companies have started talking about their research into predictive tech. The Nest Learning Thermostat learns about you and your home to automatically turn itself down when you’re away, guide you to energy-efficient temperatures when you’re home, and free you from programming hassles by creating a customized temperature schedule. The Nest Mobile app allows you to control Nest remotely.

3M™ Kind Removal Silicone Tape by 3M Health Care

3M Kind Removal Silicone Tape features advanced adhesive technology, combining reliable securement with clean, gentle removal – even on fragile, at-risk skin. It tears neatly by hand and is repositionable.

chotuKool by Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co.

ChotuKool is a disruptive innovation aimed at meeting the daily food and beverage cooling needs of the 80% of the world population that lacks refrigerators. Priced at half of an entry-level refrigerator, ChotuKool is portable, doesn’t require constant electricity, and uses a thermoelectric chip rather than a traditional compressor.

Corning® Gorilla® Glass by Corning Incorporated

Visually stunning, lightweight, and highly damage-resistant, Corning Gorilla Glass® is changing the way the world thinks about glass. An environmentally friendly alkali-aluminosilicate thin-sheet glass, Corning Gorilla Glass® helps protect the world’s latest devices from the many real-world events that commonly cause glass failure, enabling exciting new applications in technology and design.

DOW POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingles by The Dow Chemical Company

POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle is a revolutionary new roofing product that combines the performance and protection of a conventional asphalt roof with an integrated photovoltaic solar system that powers the home. It is a complete solar solution and the roof reinvented.

Edison, for whom the awards are named, was no ordinary inventor. By the time of his death he amassed a record 1,093 patents covering key innovations and improvements across a wide range of fields, including telecommunications, electric power, sound recording, motion pictures and more.  The Edison Awards honor excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design and innovation.

We all know about Edison’s success and failures – But what we often fail to take recognize, is the process he took to develop each new idea and invention. New product Development (NDP) is cultivated in an environment where creativity combines with structure. Having a focused vision and a thorough process will deliver sustainable and transformative innovation. When beginning the ideation process, most of us focus on barriers like lack of vision, funding, risk-taking, or even talent. But to unleash innovation, it is imperative to have a process in place to move from concept to launch.

To begin, implementing innovation depends on a disciplined strategy customized to the needs, size and culture of an organization. Understanding what your organization needs is very important in the New Product Development process.

The best way to assess how far you are in creating and sustaining innovation is to first do an Innovation Evaluation or Audit.  Know your innovation grade and areas for improvement. A short audit based on Robert’s Rules of Innovation is available at:

Once you solidify the goals of your organization, it’s time to assemble your NPD team and begin the innovation process, also known as the “Stage-Gate”® Process.  Open wide, and keep the idea funnel open. Sharpen those teeth. Make sure your go/no go decisions have involve key personnel, have defined gatekeepers, and provide a systematic approach to gatekeeping behavior. Do not give c-level ideas free passes – all concepts must undergo the same rigorous process. Remember to think in terms of strategic criteria, vs. focusing on the financial payoff and make your system lean, adaptive, and scalable.

*Descriptions of Edison Award recipients were taken from

To get results in Innovation, a structured, repeatable process is essential. Look to all imperatives of Robert’s Rules of Innovation:

  1. Inspire
  2. No Risk, No Innovation
  3. New Product Development Process
  4. Ownership
  5. Value Creation
  6. Accountability
  7. Training and Coaching
  8. Idea Management
  9. Observe and Measure
  10. New Result Net Reward

These rules of order are meant to be applied regularly as part of a sustainable growth strategy. All these parameters should be continually utilized – and not just when sales or ideas are low – to achieve successful, lasting innovation.

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robert brandsRobert Brands is the founder of, and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival,” with Martin Kleinman – published Spring 2010 by Wiley (

Robert F Brands




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