7 Key Steps to Empowering Innovation

November 13, 2018

Jeff DeAngelis By: Jeff DeAngelis
Managing Director, Industrial Communications, Maxim Integrated

Over the years I have found that delivering new technology into the market is a mixture of emotions similar to the excitement and anxiety as you ride a new roller coaster to the top of its first drop. The anticipation builds as you make your way to the peak, and then there’s the thrill of acceleration as you fly through the rest of the curves to the sudden de-acceleration as you come to a full stop at the end of the ride. Introducing a new product into the market for the first time pretty much feels the same way. You just never know if your product will have that "wow factor," that technical magic which elevates the industry to a new capability and helps define a new level of performance never before imagined. The process of innovation comes in many shapes and forms, yet there are some pivotal moments in the process that seem to define a method to stimulate innovation. While I wanted to share my insights on these seven pivotal steps that lead to innovation, this article is dedicated to my team who put in the effort and timeless dedication to bring our new products to market. These individuals often go unseen and they are rarely acknowledged. This peak behind the curtain, so to speak, provides insight on the magic of empowering innovation.

The excitement of launching an innovative new product is similar to the emotions felt when riding a rollercoaster.The excitement of launching an innovative new product is similar to the emotions felt when riding a rollercoaster.

Step #1: The Impossible Vision: We have a saying in the US and it goes like this, "Don't Shoot the Messenger!" This seems to always ring true when delivering a new concept to your development team that is so radically different from anything they can relate to in the universe around them. A concept so unique that the basic technology to achieve the solution being proposed has not been developed, yet your enthusiasm and passion to help them connect the dots by outlining a credible plan to realize the vision brings the team from being wholly and reluctantly doubtful that in can be done to possessing the curiosity of a reluctant traveler on a new adventure—one that they never imagined they would take.

Step #2: Motivation and Encouragement: Offer the team continued reassurance, support, guidance, and vision to keep its members focused on the end product goal even when a seemingly insurmountable roadblock appears. This step involves brainstorming options and trade-offs to keep the team focused and aligned to push ahead to ensure those tentative first steps taken on the creative journey result in building the confidence and momentum to move forward and tackle the next milestone.

Step #3: Transformation: This refers to the moment where the development team realizes that crazy new product idea is becoming a reality. At this point in the development the project transforms from a crazy idea to pride and ownership among the product team members. Now the discussions and attitudes change from doubt and disbelief to contributions of additive features and enhancements to improve upon that once unachievable concept.

Step #4: Execution: At this point in the development process, the product development team has fully embraced the impossible product concept and is actively managing the project to deliver the product to market. The last 5% of the product development typically requires a large portion of the effort and it is where long hours are spent by the product development team to iron out all last-minute integration issues between hardware and software to meet the product introduction deadline and be ready to demonstrate the new technology to the world.

Step #5: Pre-Market Introduction: A flurry of activity is in full swing at this point of the product development cycle where product briefing documents are being completed and the Marketing team is busy lining up editors for interviews and publications to publish articles on your new product.

Step #6: Product Introduction: Now after all the blood, sweat, and tears shared among the product development team to bring this innovative product to market, tension fills the company hallways as the product is unveiled for the first time during a worldwide product press tour to editors. This is also when the new product is demonstrated at that industry-critical trade show to see if the perceived technical impact envisioned is truly appreciated and received by your peers.

Step #7: Realization and Recognition: The simple truth is we all crave validation in our efforts and there is nothing more satisfying when the project you worked on for so long comes to a successful end and your industry peers recognize your new product for its innovative contributions, either through a product review or an industry award. It is very satisfying to also realize that the impossible product challenge proposed a short time ago now represents a confidence boost that inspires you to not be afraid to reach beyond your comfort zone and tackle the next impossible idea.

Today represents one of those rare days for my development team at Maxim, where it is with pride that I wanted to recognize and thank each of them for believing in one of those crazy and impossible product dreams by delivering our newest Industrial IoT reference design, called Go-IO. The Go-IO reference design is based on Maxim's third-generation industrial automation chipset. If you happen to be in Munich, Germany this week at electronica 2018, please stop by our booth in Hall C4, Stand 440 to share in the team's accomplishments as we demonstrate the new Go-IO reference design that showcases the power of industrial convergence.