The Essential 4-step Product Innovation Process [podcast] – Valutrics

I love hearing how companies are creating successful products that provide customers value, which is the topic of this episode.

Gordon Stannis, the Director of Design and Strategy at Twisthink shares their approach to developing innovative solutions for their Fortune 500 clients.

Gordon started his work as an industrial designer and then moved into product development and management roles.

We discuss the process Gordon uses for creating innovative products, and he shares the product journey of a tool for competitive swim coaches as an example of the process.


Here is a summary of the topics discussed and a link to the interview:


  • [2:26] How has product design changed? 15 years ago clients told us what they wanted and we would design a product that met their needs. Today we design user experiences, services, and products as an integrated package after first discovering unmet needs of customers. The creation of tangible products has shifted to the creation of services.
  • [4:12] What is your approach to designing products? First, we align our language with our clients. We need to be chameleons and use the language our clients do. We understand them and their needs. We use the analogy of bridges half constructed because we build bridges between where clients are with their product needs and where they want to go. We embrace failing as part of the design process, and we plan to fail a lot during the front-end of product design so we don’t fail on the back-end. Failing simple means we are learning. When we fail we learn knowledge that competitors are unlikely to have. Failure Lab is a useful site that showcases the learning from personal stories of failure.
  • [13:52] What are the steps in your process? What is interesting is how the process has changed over our history. 15 years ago clients provided marketing requirements documents. We haven’t seen those in years – no one has time for such documents anymore. Now we identify the “hill” the client wants to pursue. This is investigated during the initial discussions with the client. This is like therapy sessions – you could call it innovation counseling to discern where they want to go and why they want to go there. This is the first step.
  • [15:57] What is the next step? At some point during the innovation counseling sessions, someone will share a magic sentence that becomes the North Star for the project – a clear sentence that describes where we are heading. For example, in one session the North Star statement was “we want to use design technology and strategy to allow a coach to be a better coach and an athlete to be a better self-coach.” This example became a product used Listen to the interview with Gordon Stannis on The Everyday Innovator Podcast for product managers and innovators.