The dynamics of trends are constantly providing new opportunities in the marketplace, and the research and knowledge of key stakeholders will reveal multiple opportunities within the specified strategy area. Using an analogy, an opportunity is to a product as a problem is to a solution. The opportunity is a positive way to define a current state, and a product is the goal of the desired state. Here, the objective is not to think of products but of what products will achieve for people—what are the needs, wants, and desires of the opportunity. What do the people you researched value that is not currently provided?
Define Design Criteria
Based on that research, what characteristics does a product need to have (not what should a product look like) to fulfill the desired state of the opportunity? These characteristics are the design criteria.
Achieve the Criteria
Develop numerous product ideas that can potentially meet the criteria, and prototype the most promising ideas that do meet the criteria. Obtain feedback from target users about the prototypes, and iteratively redesign until the product design seems to be the best you can make it, or at least within the criteria you defined.
The product now is specified well enough to make a go/no-go decision. At this point, if it is judged worthy to pursue, the product enters a new phase, into preparation for production and product launch. For some companies, this is the point at which the innovation team leaves this product and starts afresh on others. We like the approach of Adidas, which at this point integrates the innovation team with a marketing team so that expertise and momentum are not lost in transfer. One improvement to Adidas’s already great innovation structure would be to have had marketers on the innovation teams along with designers and engineers.