Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Component Control Template

What is the Component Control Template?

  • An external component is one that comes in contact with the product at a certain point in time, but is not controlled by the manufacturer

  • The products have a new link of control with an external component that was not previously included in the product configuration

  • The external components were previously present in the environment of the product, but were not included in its configuration

  • The new link between the external and internal components was achieved by the addition of a new component. Note that in the course of its development, the product "creates" a new link with its immediate environment. It "reaches its hands" to new environmental components in order to respond to problems they create

  • We therefore use the term "component control" because it involves a control, which frequently implies separation, blocking, or at least limiting the impact of one component over the other

  • The Component Control Template is characterized by making a new link between a component in the internal environment of the product and a component in its external environment

  • We must note that an "environment-adapted" shampoo such as the dandruff-preventing shampoo requires R&D and new technological setups. This is a frequent characteristic of the Template: adaptation of the product to the environment often requires investment in research and technology to a larger extent than the other Templates we have discussed. However, there are cases in which the technical alterations needed for adapting the product to its environment are minor, and all that is needed is the formulation of a new marketing message
The thought process inherent in applying the Component Control Template: The Template is based on the identification of a negative connection between an external component and the product configuration. This connection is solved by establishing a new link between the external and internal components. The thought process in applying this Template is initiated with the selection of a component external to the product, and then with an effort to locate a problem embedded in the existing connection between the selected component and the product configuration. The assumption behind this is that it is easier to locate problems than to search for solutions to needs.
We recall that the definition of the term "external component" confines us to a limited list of components. Their number is finite and they are easy to define, being in direct contact with the product. This procedure keeps our thoughts from wandering, and enables us to define the given space of possibilities for innovation and to scan it systematically.

The thought process of constructing a new product configuration of a product in applying the Component Control Template is outlined as follows:
  1. Construct the product configuration
  2. Include an external component in the configuration environment and search for problems resulting from its inclusion in regard to other components. Problems located between the external component and internal components are marked with a broken line, and termed "negative connections"
  3. When we find such a connection, we must define a new functional link between an internal and an external component, responding to the problem. If no internal component is able to make the necessary link, we then search for a new component to be included in the configuration
Component Control without the need for a change in the product: Sometimes, Component Control does not require the addition of a new component to the configuration, but makes do with exposing an unknown aspect of an existing component or of the configuration itself. The control in these cases is not physical, but is expressed by rephrasing the marketing message of the product or its components. Some cases require R&D effort in order to create a new product, while others may not require any technical change, so that R&D efforts are minimal.

Orbit chewing gum: a medical discovery or a brilliant marketing move? Orbit, Tident and other chewing gums with dental care promise hit the market like lightning, gaining a large market segment in a short period of time. The product was advertised as having a unique innovation: it aids in preventing dental caries. The dental Association confirmed its effectiveness and, carried by the wave of health foods, it quickly became a standard health product. Actually, the "technological" innovation in the Orbit chewing gum is not so revolutionary. Every low-sugar chewing gum decreases acidity in the mouth in a way that delays the onset of caries. There is neither a new component nor a new function in Orbit. It is a regular low-sugar chewing gum, whose success is the result of a brilliant marketing move. This is an additional instructive example of the Component Control Template, in which a product displays a marketing innovation requiring a marketing campaign only.

Observations on the Component Control Template: Component Control is a Template that operates in the market following certain dynamics, enabling the product configuration to send out tentacles to its environment. This dynamic does not contradict with the fundamental requirement that information is embedded in the product itself. The signals from the product environment help us determine which Template to use for developing the product but they do not assist us directly in developing a new idea or product.

The Component Control Template, connecting between the product configuration and components in the external environment, creates two marked effects:
  1. An internal effect: The attention of the R&D team of the company is shifted from the main benefit to secondary benefits of the product, and resources are allotted to the development of these benefits
  2. An external effect: The market has the impression that the product offers the main benefit in an optimal way, and that the technological capability of improving upon the main benefit has been exhausted
Operation of the Template may be problematic when the market does not yet feel assured that the product can actually supply the main benefit at its best, and prefers a competing product seen as focusing on this main benefit. When the market feels that the main benefit has not been exhausted, it is better to focus on the development of this benefit, using the Attribute Dependency Template for example. Attribute Dependency makes an internal analysis of the variables of the product using a predictive matrix, and enables its development in a way that serves the benefits that already exist in it.

The Component Control Template must be operated only when conditions enabling it appear in the market - mostly a feeling of trust by the market in the ability of the product to provide the main benefit. This trust, expressed in the stabilization of consumption habits of the product, is essential for presenting new secondary benefits in the product configuration, or in operating the Component Control Template. The secondary benefits may later develop into a separate product category, or as often happens when the market is free to focus on a new benefit.

Operational prescription:
  1. Make a list of internal components (over which the manufacturer has control)
  2. Construct a product configuration: mark all the control links existing between the identified internal components
  3. Make a list of environmental components that come in physical contact with the product configuration
  4. Scan the environmental components one by one, trying to locate for each a negative connection - existing or potential - with the product configuration
Note: since the number of environmental components in contact with the product is limited, systematic mapping may cover all possibilities of Component Control.

Ref: Creativity in product innovation by Jacob Goldenberg and David Mazursky, Chapter 8

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