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This first step, creating ideas for new products and/or features, is the most critical of all components of the product management role.  Your challenge is to stay ahead of the market and your competitors while generating superior profitability, market share, and ROI.  It’s not an easy task. Also remember that it will likely take the same time, effort, money, and process to produce a complete failure as a major marketplace winner.

Your best new ideas might come from a senior product manager, product planners, project managers, or a multitude of other sources—e.g. engineers, industrial designers, software developers, sales personnel, or just about anyone in your organization (See  “Brainstorming Sessions” under the Client Services tab).

Think of it as a “funnel” where ideas, or fragments of ideas, are dumped into the top and great ideas flow out the bottom How well this funnel works is totally dependent on the product manager and no one else.  And, it is the first step to marketplace failure, mediocrity, or greatness.  Remember that this is only a starting point—your great new idea has not yet been tested with customers or end users.  While you might also need to get approvals from upper management, remember that they are not your customers and that good market research is your best defense against differing top management opinions.

Obviously, your new idea should be tested against on-the-market products from your primary competitor(s).  What’s not so obvious is that it should also be tested against product(s) or features your primary competitor(s) might introduce by the time your new concept goes to market.

How do you do that?  Well, most companies don’t. But you don’t live in a bubble so find a way to discern patterns that will give you strong clues. You wouldn’t go into a championship football game without a very thorough analysis of all key players and team tendencies under a wide variety of situations. The same comprehensive analysis is required to maintain leadership in business as well (See Client Services tab).