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Naked Value and Product Innovation

On May 16, 2012, kicked off the pre-release of the new book, Naked Value: Six Things Every Business Leader Needs to Know About Resources, Innovation & Competition. Review copies are shipping to bloggers for a virtual book tour. This article introduces some ideas explored in detail in that book. If I was in a room right now with 50 different industry leaders looking to improve their companies’ products, I would ask, “What are your goals for product innovation?” I would probably hear dozens of different answers related to efficiency, position in the marketplace, searching for innovative materials, and so on. There is one common aim for all product innovation that addresses all of these goals and more: naked value. Naked value is the ultimate value that your product delivers to customers. It is the reason that customers buy your product. It is the product benefit that remains when the product is stripped of most of the material components required to manufacture and deliver it. Naked value is the endgame in product design.

How do you get there? First, you need to know what naked value means for your product. Forget about your physical product; think about the benefits of your product. Do your customers want batteries or do they want portable energy? Do they want toothpaste or do they want healthy teeth? Do they want detergent or do they want clean clothes?

Companies in every industry are developing and introducing products that leverage new technologies to deliver the benefits people want with fewer tons of resources. Think about iTunes versus record stores, electronic devices that harvest ambient energy versus ones that require batteries, or ship hulls designed to prevent algae growth versus ones that require the use of tons of cleaning chemicals.

A company that is able to improve products on the way toward naked value will create a significant competitive advantage. It will be less sensitive to resource price fluctuations and supply constraints. It will begin to optimize resource use and produce less waste. It will lower environmental risks and decrease liabilities. Its products will be more precisely focused on what customers want and will be differentiated in the marketplace.

Success in any field requires having a vision of where you want to eventually end up. A pitcher throws strikes by focusing on an imaginary strike zone, the place where the ball needs to go. An artist draws a freehand straight line by focusing on where the line should end. Product innovation today is no different: companies need to aim for naked value.

The concept of naked value is described and explored in more detail in Naked Value:  Six Things Every Business Leader Needs to Know About Resources, Innovation & Competition. The book is now available in paperback and ebook through Amazon. Contact dMASS for information regarding bulk and conference sales (info at

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