Successful global companies used to seem like permanent fixtures in our lives and economies, but the market has become far more fluid, with famous names disappearing and new players achieving huge success. So, how can you emulate the achievements of the new tech start-ups? Having huge amounts of money clearly helps, but there are other, more personal attributes that seem to play a part in building successful new businesses.
The first is leadership. Many of the most successful companies, particularly in the product sector, are led by strong individuals with a clear sense of direction (think Jobs, Dyson, Musk, Branson, et al). This school of management does have its downsides, but it certainly produces some spectacular results. It doesn’t necessarily involve dominance by one person, particularly if they have the good sense to introduce the second success factor – a good team.
Good team work - which we define as having capable people representing each part of the business and working closely together to get results – is the central feature of any successful product development process. So why is it so rare? There are many reasons, but the main one is fear. Fear of failure or blame. This is an area that NASA seems to have got right. They’ve adopted a policy where admitting failure is seen as good thing, so it can be addressed before it becomes a catastrophe.
The third characteristic involves the ability to make decisions. We’ve all sat in meetings where the conclusion was to have another meeting. Doing nothing is often seen as preferable to making a mistake. Successful companies don’t work like this.
Our final characteristic in this quick summary of successful product development companies is attention to detail. This is one area where companies like Apple and Nest excel. Their obsessive attention to the smallest details is what makes the difference between a good product and an object of desire that everyone wants to buy.
If you would like to find out more about how your company approaches new product development, you might like to look at our Product Development Audit (see link on this page). Developed from documents from Cambridge University and Imperial College, the audit asks a series of questions, the answers to which illustrate how your company approaches risk, creativity, innovation and a number of other issues. You might find it enlightening!