Author says innovation is key to busines survival

Michael Dalton, the founder of Racine-based Guided Innovation Group, is on a mission to help companies turn new product innovation into bottom line impact.

Dalton recently authored a book titled, “Simplifying Innovation: Doubling Speed to Market and New Product Profits – With Your Existing Resources.”

Dalton will be a seminar speaker at this year’s BizTech Conference & Expo.
Guided Innovation takes the familiar theory of constraint approach, typically used to promote continuous improvement in product manufacturing, and applies it to a company’s research and development efforts.
“Globally, more than a trillion dollars gets funneled into research and development and new product development every year,” Dalton said. “Less than 50 percent of executives are satisfied with the level of return they are seeing on their R&D investment as well as the time it takes to see that return.”
Dalton spent the majority of his professional career utilizing the theory of constraint approach to meet the goals of continuous improvement for the company he worked for. During that time he determined that the same principles that apply for continuous improvement in manufacturing could be used to improve the research and development and product innovation process.
“Product innovation is a process, and in every process there is a bottleneck point of constraint,” Dalton said. “Being able to identify that point and alleviating or balancing that constraint is key to getting the most rapid return on a company’s investment.”
Even though innovative companies spend 20 to 50 percent of their net profit on additional research and development there isn’t the same commitment to continuous improvement as there is in manufacturing, Dalton said.
Dalton helps companies innovate with a five step process.
“Innovation may be complex but improving the process doesn’t have to be,” he said.
The first step in solving a company’s innovation complexity problem is identifying the point in the process that is limiting the company’s growth or output, he said.
“Rather than trying to improve everywhere at once, it’s a lot more efficient and less costly if you can identify the one spot in your process that’s limiting you and put your efforts there,” he said.
Following that initial step, companies need to go through a series of actions to get as much out of the capacity they currently have, adapt the pace of the entire process to fit the pace of the constrained area to avoid loss of production, and then make investments to increase the capacity of the entire process.
“The important thing is to start with high leverage actions that will add capacity without adding fixed costs,” Dalton said. “This step might include coaching and development of key personnel, increasing fundamental research or adding tools to the process.”
Dalton argues that above all things, companies need to make a serious commitment to continuous improvement in their research and development and new product development process.
Dalton will teach BizTech Conference & Expo attendees how they could benefit from Guided Innovation’s system for doubling speed to market and new product profits on Wednesday, April 28, in Seminar Room C of the Wisconsin Exposition Center at State Fair Park in West Allis, from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m. Check the BizTech Conference Show Guide for updated information and location.

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