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Strategies for New Product Development

In: Business and Management

Submitted By ALI0HAIDER
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C. M E R L E C R A W F O R D

STRATEGIES FOR NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Guidelines for a critical company problem
C. Merle Crawford is a faculty m e m b e r at the University o f Michigan.

In spite o f much evidence o f its success, many managers hesitate to establish a policy for new product development. Their indecision often arises f r o m two reasons: they fear that a defined strategy may discourage innovation and they are uncertain how to formulate a new product strategy. The author o f this article discredits the f o r m e r notion and, in reply to the latter, proposes the guidelines f o r developing such a statement. As new products are essential to the continued success o f most firms, the strategy must exist and must be operant i f the firm is to avoid wasted time, effort, and money as well as employee confusion and discouragement. For longer than most of us care to remember, Dan Gerber has been proclaiming that babies are his business, his only business. With some nostalgic regret I read recently that he has altered his strategy: he now permits limited diversification b e y o n d products for babies.

A leading toiletries manufacturer has an equally tenacious, though unpublicized, commitment to only those new, nonfood, packaged goods that do not compete itemto-item with Procter and Gamble. Richard Rifenburgh, president of Mohawk Data Sciences, manufacturers of peripheral computer equipment, was cited recently in Fortune as a man who, at the present time, would rather be an agile follower than a creative leader. 1 On the assumption that it would be too expensive to develop frontiers, Rifenburgh prefers to wait to see on which newly opened trails the volume of activity will fall. All of these companies have a powerful managerial t o o l - w h a t I call a New Product Development Strategy Statement. They have formed convictions concerning new products...

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