Opportunity funnel

I’m re-reading my old college textbook, Product Design and Development. In the product planning chapter they talk about having an opportunity funnel to collect the new product opportunity ideas from all over the company (R&D, marketing, sales, etc).

I have never worked in an organization with a clear process of collecting new product opportunities in a single place. It’s always just casual communication eventually leading to a project being launched.

How is this done in organizations? I’ve done a google search, but I can’t seem to find any info and my text book doesn’t drill into this point. Is there some module in MS Project to help in this? Is there a simple way offline?


As most everybody who’s heard of it, I always thought their 80/20 Innovation Model was amazing. This is the thing at the Googleplex where every Friday the employees can develop their own ideas - and often turn into real google products

Do they have to clear their interests with management? Does someone stop bad projects that go too far (as they must champion the good ones…)?

Maybe someone from Google will reply…

We use a tool called market feedback. Our marketing, sales and customer service departments have a great deal of customer contact. They are required (a couple of times a month?) to write down questions, concerns, compliments the customer says about our products, the competition’s or the customer’s day to day duties, problems, etc. These are compiled once a week and routed to us folks in npd.

Sometimes there is a direct suggection, “You should make a product that does this.” or “You should change your product this way.” Sometimes it is indirect, “I have a problem doing this.”

Those then feed into out 100/5/1 rule. For every 100 ideas, we will spend resources on 5. Of the 5, 1 is likely to launch.

The rest of the company is encouraged to submit ideas, but they don’t have the frequency and volume as the market feedback, which generally doesn’t have the frequency and volume of ideas from our own direct and indirect research. But it only takes 1 idea launch so we are certainly not picky about the source of the idea.

iab: You make it sound so easy. So basically, it is all done just with pen & paper. I can do that.

Ideas are easy. And we don’t charge our employees $10 to submit one.

Ideas are easy. And we don’t charge our employees $10 to submit one.

Tom Kelley of IDEO wrote a great book covering innovation in the workplace. I think it’s most applicable in a corporate setting. Basically, the more diversity and resources at your disposal the better.

It’s called, “The Ten Faces of Innovation”.

I’d even lend it to you if you want to swap books via mail for a few months.