How often in life do you win big by breaking things?

In our final webinar for 2021, we explored components of what it means to fail faster during innovation and new product development processes. We were joined by Mimi Sherlock (IFF) and Cheryl Stella Dalisay (Stellar Strategic Services) who recently teamed up with InsightsNow exploring a new concept for the Health and Wellness category.

Together we created a multi-faceted research design that included utilizing InsightsNow’s Innovation Center’s Concept Scoring Solution where we added in additional survey techniques along with the concept scoring. Also included was a simultaneous qualitative portion for even deeper insights. With all these components layered in, the IFF team gathered a large set of data in various forms. 

Our panel discussion first delved into whether “failing fast” is a known research methodology, or could it be? In summary, failure of any kind is, at its core, a strategic mental construct. How you and your team define failure may be different, which was echoed by comments the webinar audience members sent in. The lack of a unified definition of failure may make it difficult to find team alignment—teams should focus on core objectives for any type of research design and product development. Sometimes this means creating unique KPIs – which is what we had to do for this Health and Wellness concept project.

    Advice offered by Mimi and Cheryl included:

    • Set expectations for the research results. What will the team do in the case of ‘X’ outcome?
    • Use innovation partners who thoughtfully listen to the team needs and desires for their product and design.
    • Be prepared for pivots and remain agile – as consumer input impacts the final product design, accepting these results and knowing how to interpret the feedback is critical.

    Failing Fast Versus Failing Big

    Another element we discussed together was the difference between failing fast versus failing big. Failing big may be easier to understand as that may be when a product launches and doesn’t succeed in the market in terms of sales data or consumer adoption. However, failing big happens in the research phases, too. Examples of “big” failures are classic ‘run before you can walk’ scenarios. Did your team rush to development for home-use-tests to get the product in the hands of consumers before understanding the strategy behind the product? With access to 3D printing, rapid prototyping developers, and other technical advancements it’s easy to literally bring ideas to life quickly these days. Another mindset danger mentioned is an “Abilene Paradox” in teams when all members support a plan while each truely believing it to be wrong.  As a result, sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into these samples too soon can be an example of teams ‘fail big’ before even getting to the market.  

    The Art of Concepting

    A way to combat ‘failing big’ is learning how to leverage the balance of insights and ideas. There’s a quote by Thomas Edison that may help explain this further, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.“ If you haven’t yet answered the why behind a product, how do you know it will solve an unmet need by the consumer purchasing and using it? You don’t have to have a product in their hands to discover this. We believe some teams may be missing out on the art of concepting. Depending on the development, we used an example of driverless car research 10-15 years ago, consumers may not be able to imagine a new-to-this-world idea without some inspiration. Being able to sketch out the design and list out the potential features can be more valuable for ideation with consumers than giving them a sample that looks and feels like a final product. And in our case, as Mimi mentioned, we had to ‘make up’ competitor concepts for our research design to maximize the conversation…and that’s okay. We recognize it can be both freeing and terrifying to have such an open playing field, yet that’s the beauty of innovation and the ever-increasing ability of technology.

    To listen and learn more from our panelists on this topic, please check out the recording found here. 

    Kayte Hamilton

    Kayte Hamilton

    Director Innovation Center, InsightsNow

    Mimi Sherlock

    Mimi Sherlock

    Leader Global Consumer Intelligence - Nourish, IFF

    She is responsible for building a strong foundation of actionable consumer intelligence with trend-driven analysis, strong market and consumer insight, and rich data analytics that are used to inspire action, fuel short- and long-term innovation, and guide IFF product design™. Mimi has worked holds a Master’s Degree in Food Science from the University of Minnesota and recently co-authored a book called “Once Upon an Innovation, A Business Storytelling Guidebook for Creative Problem Solving.  

    Cheryl Stella Dalisay

    Cheryl Stella Dalisay

    President, Stellar Strategic Services, Inc

    Stellar Strategic Services, Inc. provides exceptional qualitative and quantitative research services for a multitude of industries. As a truly collaborative, strategic partner, Cheryl and her team’s vast experience and skills contribute to creative research solutions that drive business decisions, most notably in the innovation space.

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