CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING (CPS)
Why is this an important part of advanced product management? Because, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” So, once your products are on the market, your role changes to one of generating necessary revenues and sustaining profitability no matter what reality throws at you. And when conventional actions fall short (too often the case), you will be forced to look for creative solutions. This might be the most challenging part of your career but also the most rewarding. For a few, it is a natural talent. For most, it is a skill (or process) that must be learned.
The first step is learning where to look for causal factors and potential solutions. Here are some internal examples.
- Any “choke point” (production, capacity, sales closure rate, technical support overload, etc.).
- Any “deceleration” (internal development, production rate, slower sales cycle, etc.).
- A creativity gap (Industrial design, software development, product planning/management, etc.).
- Applied overhead (an invisible “killer” of profitability; most damaging to anything that is slowing down).
- Unexplained drop in quality levels.
Here are some common and meaningful external “places to look”.
- Superior competitive designs, features, or messaging.
- Inadequate or misleading pre-introduction market research.
- Missed (higher) pricing opportunities (Note: you can test for these without risking volume).
- Unseen slowdown in one or more market segments.
- Undetected “clues” to shifting demand.
The second step (if necessary) is looking for more radical solutions (“outside the proverbial box”). This is only for the more adventurous managers but also where the most dramatic results are often found. Here are some guidelines for those who don’t naturally gravitate to these prime hunting grounds. Challenge any of the following.
- Accepted practices and standards.
- Historical patterns and precedence.
- Established “strategic necessities”.
- Accepted technical limitations
- Previous study group results.
- Anything considered “off limits” or “untouchable.”
- Any financial metrics that don’t reconcile EOQ, ROI, gross margin, and overall operational profitability.
In other words, “Climb over the fence where the sacred cows live…that’s where the incremental profits are hiding.” If you would like some help climbing that fence, go to the Client Services tab and then call me.