from Tim Nicol, joint MD, The MIH Centre, Covent Garden, London
Sir; re The Value of Failure (The Grocer, January 4, p27). Simon Mowbray raises some interesting issues about NPD failure, but may have understated the size of the problem. According to a 1997 Ernst and Young/ACNielsen report, failure' rates in packaged goods can run as high as nine out of 10 over two years ­ much worse than the one in six suggested by IRI.
At the same time, managers are encouraged to become more failure-tolerant in an effort to promote innovation. However, in our financially constrained reality, who wouldn't prefer a nine out of 10 success rate?
At the MIH (Make Innovation Happen) Centre, we believe in doing fewer things better and faster. Our enemy is innovation inefficiency', of which the most common causes are:
l Consumers not being involved early enough in the innovation process. Often ideas just come from within a company, and are thus solutions to the manufacturer's problem, rather than the consumer's. Then again, if you have a high volume of ideas going into your innovation process, it can be difficult to research them all with the consumer in order to do an early filter that separates potential stars' from stinkers'.
l Internal decision making at the early stage of innovation may be subjective and thus subject to inconsistency.
In the current climate businesses are adopting a strategy of focusing on business as usual'. This avoidance of risk leads to line extensions which are of little interest to consumers who, paradoxically, are after more excitement.
The result is that someone else gets there first ­ and that surprise rival can be from anywhere in the world.
There are lots of good ideas out there. The trick lies in deciding which ideas to go with. High-quality early stage decision-making is, therefore, crucial.