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35% – 48% of all new products fail: 4 ways human innovation can increase your chances of success

I had a fascinating meeting with a senior product development person, from one of the valley’s luminary companies, today. We discussed product development in highly complex environments and the risk of surrendering your product strategy to the two-headed monster of Product AND Human Innovation verses leveraging the same opportunity to establish powerful partnerships.

In complex, multi-product product development environments, product development moves from Product Design Thinking: design/engineer/develop to Product AND Human Innovation: design/engineer/develop AND listen/coordinate/collaborate; you can ignore the Human Innovation at your peril, and be defeated by the two-headed monster or you can leverage both and create powerful partnerships that will radically increase your chances of success.

The transition from a one product company to multi-product company is exponentially more complex and so are your chances of failure. (Between 35%-48% of all new products fail)

If you know how to use product design thinking for your product development you now need to learn how to use Human Innovation for your complex product development environment or you need to find someone who can partner with you to do this.

1. Leverage Human Innovation

Human Innovation is best described as “increasing the Innovation Capacity of emerging technology teams, allowing them to move from individual silos of ineffective product development to cross functional, supportive and game changing leaders of innovation ecosystems. Building upon Design Thinking, Systems Thinking and Universal Pragmatics, Human Innovation introduces a new framework for sustaining behavior change and amplifies the innovative capabilities of all team members. “

Find someone who is trained in Design, Systems Thinking or Applied Universal Pragmatics. The type of person who can design processes and practices to listen/coordinate/collaborate. Someone who can leverage and train others in Human Innovation and amplify their innovative capabilities. A true Human Innovation leader can align you, your team and your product roadmap & strategy with the company’s overall road map and strategy.

2. Plan to mesh your roadmap with others – tessellate

People proficient or expert in Human Innovation can help you mesh your roadmap with that of others so that they amplify rather than detract from each other. It’s like tessellation – creating coherent, beautiful, patterns or mosaics without gaps or overlaps.

3. Accept that you can’t do it all simultaneously

You need to create a partnership between the Product Design Thinking you use for the engineering and product design work, and the Human Innovation you need to leverage for designing, managing and being successful at human listening, collaboration, and coordination.

If you are using Design Thinking for Product Development your team already have some capability in empathy and speculation, Human Innovation can build on that.

By creating this partnership your product and people actually mesh with the other products your company is developing or already selling. This dual design approach is an absolute necessity in highly complex product development or technology implementation environments, otherwise the best and most beautifully designed and engineered products will never make it to market successfully.

4. Look differently at the common reasons for failure

We can list all of the commonly known reasons product fail:

  • Failure to Understand Consumer Needs and Wants

  • Fixing a Non-Existent Problem

  • Targeting the Wrong Market

  • Incorrect Pricing

  • Prolonged Development or Delayed Market Entry

  • Poor Execution

  • Bad design

  • Sloppy implementation

All of these contribute to product failure and all of them can be improved by leveraging Human Innovation. When you and your team get good at Human Innovation then you reduce the chances of failure because in addition to overcoming prolonged development or delayed market entry, poor execution, and weak implementation you are now listening, collaborating and coordinating with marketing. You can establish listening practices and sustainable, respectful feedback loops that radically increase your chances of success.

Tell me what you think? How many of your product development initiatives or projects have failed because of poor Human Innovation? Because of lack of listening, collaboration and coordination? Do you know that this can be designed with the same rigor as product design? Are you ready to learn?

Jennifer Kenny is an expert in Human Innovation and trains leaders in emerging technology to Innovate Better Together. She is passionate about helping amazing people thrive in highly complex technical environments.

For more on her Human Innovation programs please contact her at or

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