Incremental Innovation in Technology, Advantages and Disadvantages.
The objective of this paper is to examine the techniques related to incremental technological innovation in light of its advantages and disadvantages. Many studies focus on techniques of speeding up the cycle of product design. However, the fastest and most effective way to speed up the introduction of a product is to execute an incremental improvement – to an existing produce - that could serve a new and particular need.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is what is called the megaproject. A project that starts out with over-the-top ambitious objectives, it requires almost extraordinary effort ...view middle of the document...
We will get very strong feedback from the market after the first or second product increments if our product has missed the target.
We would also notice some striking advantages from a marketing perspective. Because each incremental product would be developed within a relatively short horizon, we would be able to limit our detailed planning to the market that would exist at that time. It is much easier to forecast customer needs over shorter planning horizons. This means that we would be able to quickly create a more accurate specification, and get the entire team to buy into it. The further we look into the future the more our vision is based on pure speculation. And even if we made a mistake on the specification, we would be better off on the incremental program. We would get strong feedback from the customer as soon as we made our first product introduction. We would have additional tries in which to adjust the product. This flexibility is a crucial advantage in fast-moving markets because we often don't know exactly what customers want, and sometimes the customers don't know either. Too often we faithfully write down exactly what the customers asked for, spend years developing it, and then come to the moment of truth when the customers finally begin using the fully functioning system. As they begin to use it in the real application they flood us with requests for modifications. We explain to them that we gave them exactly what they asked for and show them their signatures on the original specification document. "Well, now that I am using what I asked for," they say, "it's not what I want . . . but you really helped me clarify my thinking." The flexibility offered by incremental innovation is vital in such situations. Let us look at some examples of this. Black & Decker is a leader in eliminating cords from electric tools and appliances by replacing cords with rechargeable battery packs. Their Handy Mixer was among the first items in a line of kitchen appliances designed to capitalize on cordless operation. B&D's presumption in designing the Handy Mixer, even after introducing several cordless tools and vacuum cleaners, was that users expected the cordless product to be as powerful as the corded one. The primary emphasis was thus on developing a cordless mixer with performance nearly equal to a corded one, even though it became considerably more expensive than a corded mixer. After considerable discussion, Black & Decker decided to develop an “under-powered" version us well because a few people believed it might also have a small market. In the end, this minority was vindicated in the marketplace. Reports from people who bought the units found its convenience and lightweight were its strong points, they did not expect the small model to be a heavy-duty mixer. The larger, powerful unit, meanwhile, met with a poor reception and ultimately was discontinued. The ease of forecasting and flexibility are not...