October 2004

Thought provoking articles

We are on the lookout for articles that offer a thought-provoking perspective on complex business issues. It is often easier to glean an insight into an absorbing issue by looking for an analog in an different area. Leaps in thinking often happen in this way.

Making Differentiation Make a Difference

by Patrick Barwise and Seán Meehan
Strategy + Business, September 30, 2004

It is a widely accepted and rarely challenged tenet of marketing that companies can sustain competitive advantage only through "new and improved" product differentiation based on unique features and benefits. But allocating millions of dollars to add a slight product twist and then market it brings only marginal returns. Companies can create value for themselves, and for their customers, by raising the bar for the entire category. To do this, they need to know what consumers really care about.


The future of product development

by Rick Holman, Hans-Werner Kaas, David Keeling
McKinsey Quarterly, October 2003

Product-development cycles have improved over the past two decades by following a more disciplined and rigorous process-until recently, that is. Now, the pace of improvement seems to have leveled off, and companies are unable to meet the rising demand for better and more frequently launched new products aimed at narrower customer segments.

The take-away: A handful of companies have sped up the development process by making it more flexible and by changing the way input is gathered and decisions are made. In some cases, these companies have doubled sales of their new products and gained an undeniable edge in fast-paced and competitive markets.



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