Manufacturing is about adding value to materials. The way to create the best value is to offer something no one else does. This can be done by creating your own innovation map.

“Innovation mapping” (IMap) is a tool that directs users to productive ends by clarifying things on which your team will focus. The IMap is not about the ideation but everything else needed to turn the idea into reality. Many great ideas never reach their potential because the details of development are not well planned. The IMap allows you to communicate where you need to direct resources and assistance. We all need one. Here are some resources to check out before creating one:

  1. Industry Week Magazine;
  2. Innovation Weekly;
  3. Harvard Business Review;
  4. Consultants; and
  5. Books

Once you have a clear understanding of the principles for your IMap, assemble your team and build it. Each segment should be researched extensively and consensus should be reached on the answers.

A template to start your map is here:




Question List A: Time

  1. What is an accepted time-to-market in your industry segment?
  2. What was the time-to-market for a recent competitive product?
  3. What is the best-in-class time-to-market?
  4. What time-to-market will gain you an advantage?
  5. What are your limitations to time-to-market?
  6. What can your suppliers contribute to your time to market?

Question List B: Budget

  1. What are the ROI goals?
  2. What is the capital allocation for this project?
  3. What is the priority of this project?
  4. Does this project enhance your profitability?
  5. What will this project do to inventory costs?
  6. What is the core justification for this project?

Question List C: Need

  1. What similar products are available?
  2. What success have existing products had?
  3. What size is the potential market?
  4. Who are the key competitors and what are they promoting?
  5. What will this product do differently?
  6. What sales and marketing plan will succeed?

Question List D: Resources

  1. What resources are available for development?
  2. What are the investments needed to build resources?
  3. What key departmental resources are needed and when?
  4. What planning tools are available to maximize resources?
  5. What sales/marketing resource planning is required?
  6. What group will drive development?

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