Leadership through Product Innovation

Product leadership and growth of the Organization goes hand in hand. Organizations employ certain chosen core value propositions with their product or service and use the same as the key drivers to endear customers and forge relationships. When they stand apart from the rest of the competition by way of superior value that they provide to their customer and continually strive to exceed their customer’s expectations over a period of time, they manage to create a niche in the market and establish brand leadership.

A look at the various markets and Organizations will tell you that no two Organizations follow the same recipe for success. Organizations like GE, Phillips, IBM, HP etc stand out as Organizations that have built operational excellence and drive their brand leadership through business model that supports their core value offering. On the other hand, Organizations like Apple, Google and Microsoft etc are driven by individual leadership that promotes product innovation, experimentation and motivated by their creativity and leadership in the market. Customer relationship as well as value proposition to the customer is driven through the individual leadership and innovation leadership.

In between these giant Organizations and individual leadership driven Companies, we have another set of Organizations that combine a bit of both the styles and are completely focused on establishing their leadership in the chosen product categories and retaining their leadership. Organizations like 3M and J&J are the best examples of Organizations that are narrowly focused on achieving product leadership through product innovation. A study of the strategy that these Organizations have adopted makes for an interesting study for all management students.

These Organizations focus singularly on entire cycle of Product innovation, new product development and capturing the market segment using their new product introductions. Besides they do not wait for the life cycle of a particular product for milking revenues and profits. Instead they choose to concentrate on introducing new products and drive product leadership in an ongoing basis. Thus they are far ahead of the competition at all times. By the time the competition develops one product, these Organizations would have gone ahead and introduced several new products and versions, thus ensuring that the competition is left far behind and that they are always ahead in the market.

If you compare the organizations that are driven through organizational excellence and those that are driven through individual leadership and entrepreneurship, these third categories of product leader Organizations are built differently and accordingly their strategy and core competence is different too.

These Organizations are totally focused on R&D and product innovation. They tend to give importance to product development areas and into enhancing the supply chain efficiency to serve their markets. The marketing focus is on creating visibility and availability of the product at all times and expanding their market share through aggressive selling to increase sales volumes. However we do not mean that these Organizations neglect other aspects of Organizational development. They tend to be more sales and market driven with hardnosed marketing talent determining the sales strategy. Range of new products and Product innovation as well as product quality drive the value proposition in the markets. Management style and systems tend to be target driven and concentrate on sales volumes.

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