Discontinuous Innovation and the New Product Development Process

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Discontinuous Innovation and the New Product Development Process
Robert W. Veryzer, Jr.

Although many new-products professionals may harbor hopes of developing “the next big thing” in their respective industries, most product development efforts focus on incremental innovations. Accordingly, most research on the new-product ,development (NPD) process focuses on the development of evolutionary products. For new-products professionals seeking insights into the means for achieving breakthrough innovations, a fundamental question remains unanswered: Does the NPD process for discontinuous products difSer from the process for incremental, or continuous, products? To provide a better understanding of managerial practices associated with discontinuous innovation, Robert Veryzer presents findings from an in-depth study of eight discontinuous product development projects. The study explores the key factors that affect the discontinuous NPD process, as well as the methods that the firms in this study use for assessing the radically new products they have in development. From the findings in this study, he develops a descriptive model of the discontinuous product development process, and he o#ers insights into the requirements for effective management of discontinuous innovation projects. Although half the firms in the study use a formal process for evaluating radically innovative products, the participants in the study generally do not employ a formal, highly structured process for managing discontinuous NPD efforts. However, these firms do follow a consistent, logical process in the development of radical innovations, and their process diflers significantly from incremental NPD processes. The processes used by the firms in this study are more exploratory and less customer driven than the typical, incremental NPD process. The impetus for all the projects in this study comes from the convergence of developing technologies; various contextual or environmental factors (for

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