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Food beverage innovation ideation boundaries

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Can boundaries stifle food and beverage new product ideation, or can they create more fertile product concepts? This singular question may represent the crux of innovative thinking, and the basic component of creating a new innovative culture within the food and beverage industry. I argue that business boundaries on the new ideation process benefits corporations several ways. That’s why I invented the Strategate Ideation Process that imposes business rules on the ideation process. Those boundaries, or business rules, represent the Corporate Business Strategy, Marketing Product Strategy and New Product Strategy.

For many research and development people, business rules may be a strange phrase, but it’s a very common phrase within business consulting circles. Between my tenures at Boston Market and Church’s Chicken, I spent six years leading business performance and information technology consulting. And Business Rules always represented the heart of business consulting. In fact one partner company has helped four companies achieve the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award by practicing this discipline.

I propose that food and beverage companies can benefit from the application of boundaries to the new product ideation process. First, richer ideas can surface through the ideation process when the scope of ideation is funneled in one direction. For example, limiting sandwich ideation to flatbreads vs. any bread, forces the mind to bring mental energies on a specific category – which results in rich ideas that can be further developed.

Second, it accelerates new products to market because the generated ideas dont exceed a companys current production or marketing capabilities. The result is more highly qualified ideas that proceed through the corporate development process with greater efficiency.

Third, new product concepts that current business rules filter out can be placed in a reserve tank that forms the basis for long-term business expansion when new production equipment technologies become available. Oh, that sounds like true innovation. In fact innovation represents new thinking, new ideas and new concepts never before developed.

Do QSR LTO line extensions represent new product innovation – even if it’s a new sauce to sell boneless chicken wings? I argue that it does NOT represent innovation. LTO line extensions usually represent risk adverse marketing strategies. Line extensions merely extend the life of a product on a menu but does little to create innovative new product ideas. In fact, companies that keep their RD team focused on line extensions are merely encouraging long-term negative behavior.

I believe the biggest constraints to new product innovation are sales limitations, marketing limitations, brand equity limitations, production equipment and volume incentive limitations, etc. These are the true product ideation limitations, not the day-in and day-out creativity in RD test kitchens. For companies to change to a culture of innovation, they need to elevate RD creativity and stifle constraint thinking in other corporate disciplines.

A great nonfood innovation company that comes to my immediate thinking is ‘APPLE’. Now maybe that’s a company that the food industry can model after.

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