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Bookshelf: Utility is the Driving Force Behind Innovation

Dec. 17, 2007
Something Really New: Three Simple Steps to Creating Truly Innovative Products, By Denis J. Hauptly, AMACOM, 2008, 248 pages, $21.95

Companies pour millions of dollars into product development every year, so getting it wrong can cost them big. Denis Hauptly, vice president, technology strategy, for Thomson Global Resources, aims to help firms get it right in his new book, in which he states as its theme: "In the world of product and service innovation, utility is the driving force." Products based on need, he says, have a longer life than innovations based on appearance or novelty.

With that in mind, Hauptly presents three fundamental questions every innovator must ask:

  • What tasks are the product really used for?
  • Are there any steps that can be removed from that task?
  • What are the very next tasks that the customer will want to perform after using this product?
Something Really New is a quick read, peppered with anecdotes and examples. "Adults learn by doing," Hauptly says, and so he concludes his book with a series of innovation workouts. Each workout presents a problem, as well as an answer. The answer is not meant to be the "right" answer; instead, it is meant to spur reader responses to the issues raised.

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