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The Dual-Drive Concept of

Product Innovation
C. Merle Crawford

T raditional
wisdom on
Such products are quality, and sell at high value
n e w products This article spells out the nature of the dual
Neither technology says that a firm strategy in contrast to the old, and describes the
nor markets can drive should be either
market driven or
very unique set of actions necessary to imple-
ment it profitably. Incidentally, the term "prod-
product innovation technology d r i v e n - - uct" includes both goods and services; service
that is, give the mar- firms often b e c o m e technology driven because of
by themselves. They ket either what it their fixed base of service facilities.
need each other for wants or what tech-
nologists believe it THE HISTORICAL VIEW
optimum performance. will want. Quaker
gave us cinnamon- he traditional one-drive strategy has b e e n
flavored instant oat-
meal. Edwin Land gave us the Polaroid Camera
and Polavision.
T expressed in m a n y ways. Here are some

This view is simplistic, and in yesterday's The planning approach will be very dif-
world it worked pretty well. But research shows ferent depending on whether the com-
that top players k n o w the push-pull approach is pany's business is based on "technology-
wrong today. These people want push and push" or "demand-pull," and whether
p u l l - - a market drive and a technology drive--at planning is controlled by the R&D or the
the same time. For example, pharmaceutical firms marketing function.
are said to be technology driven; but their re-
search centers are staffed with MDs (customers), Some innovations arise in response to a
and they have the world's best set of market data d o c u m e n t e d need or demand. They are
on disease incidence and needs. In the same often referred to as "needs-generated" or
vein, "consumer-driven" Procter & Gamble (P&G) "technology-pull" innovations. This is in
pairs its consumer knowledge with two levels of contrast to "means-generated" or "tech-
advanced technology research, and only rarely nology-push" innovations, which arise
will they market a product that is not technically from a technical capability.
superior. In fact, Pringles potato chips was a fail-
ure of technology drive, and in P&G yet! Ideas m a y be generated by the market-
The n e w approach can best be called dual place . . . . [S]uch market-pull ideas repre-
drive, to contrast it with the two single drives of sent the majority of n e w product
technology and market. In the dual-drive ap- projects. But technology-push i d e a s - -
proach, every n e w product project, before it gets which are generated by research or a
under way, has the dual direction of a specific serendipitous discovery--also play an
market (user problem) and a specific technology important role.
that will be used to find the solution to that prob-
lem. Whatever the project comes up with, The first of these authors went on to say, "It
chances are it will sell, because there was a must be possible for innovations to find their w a y
k n o w n need and a technical capability to match. from the R&D department into the wider organi-

32 Business Horizons / May-June 1991

zation where they can be 'commercialized.' . . . We shouldn't call these teams "balanced,"
To create an environment in which this 'commer- although the term has b e e n used in this connec-
cialization' can take place, managers must pro- tion. Balance implies equality and scales. Look at
vide a clear division of responsibility b e t w e e n the legs of a c h a i r - - o n e may do more w o r k than
R&D and other c o m p a n y functions." The n e w another, or be harder to build, or cost more or
thinking says this "clear division" is just what w e take longer, but it still takes four legs to m a k e a
have too m u c h of already. good chair.
Years ago there were fewer owners of key I've heard managers say, "We're using tech-
technologies, less competition in the market- nology and market in a 70/30 ratio." Guess w h o
place, more time, and less need to optimize the has to call whom? Can the problem be less im-
firm's resources. But today managements com- portant than the solution, or vice versa?
plain about a raft of problems that hobble too
m a n y of their new product programs. Here are Examples
the leading ones:
1. Friction. Too m a n y people spend too Here are some examples, selected from different
m u c h time fighting with each other, squabbling product situations.
over turf, missing signals, trying to adjust invisible A c o n s u m e r packaged good. Consumers
pecking orders. Strategically opting for either like puddings and gelatins, but they want inter-
technology or marketing is like deciding which esting new "snacks." General Foods k n e w frozen
m e m b e r of an outstanding double-play combina- technology and puddings. Put the two together
tion deserves a bonus. and you have Jell-O Pudding Pops (and lots
2. Lost time. New product programs seem to more).
be "a day late and a dollar short," with frequent More c o m p l e x c o n s u m e r packaged goods
postponements and no real commitment by the situation. S.C. Johnson found that people were
people involved. increasingly concerned about skin care problems.
3. Unnecessarily high costs. Much of the new The c o m p a n y also k n e w they had a strong
product process is inefficient, with projects that m o n o m e r and polymer film-forming technology.
abort, monies drained away to "more urgent" They added to it by acquiring a dermatology lab
needs, and repeated starts, stops, and stuttering. and put the dual focus to w o r k to come up with
4. Excessive involvement of top manage- $22 million Soft Sense as a starter.
ment. Some executives feel it's almost impossible Technical c o n s u m e r durable. The Kodak
to delegate n e w product projects. They have to Disc Camera came from a project that specifically
settle arguments, make the critical decisions, aid combined the firm's disc technology with the
in the communicating, and actually do m u c h of consumers' problem of taking pictures w h e n they
the w o r k others should do. were uncertain whether there was enough light.
5. Poor products. Too m a n y fail or just never As CEO Walter Fallon said, "New products must
sell very well. Too m a n y are mediocre at best, meet the test of the laboratory and the market-
with little real differentiation, little value added, place" ( " F a l l o n . . . " 1983)
and little salability. Standardized industrial products. Stan-
dard Products Co., a very profitable $433 million
THE NEW VIEW firm in Cleveland, succeeds by doing two things:
concentrating only on making door and w i n d o w
ne big reason for problems like these is seals for the Big Three automakers (whose prob-

O that the people working on new product

projects do not w o r k together. They are
separated b y the initial strategic decision to make
lems they have grown to k n o w very well) and
refusing to make "anything that wasn't made by
sandwiching layers of metal, rubber, and vinyl"
one of two players the important one. If the firm (Reid 1987).
uses market drive, technology people wait and Specialty industrial, low-tech. Signode
respond, and vice versa. assigned a specially appointed team to come up
But what happens if the firm uses dual drive? with n e w products that (1) exploited the firm's
The two key functions are merged and syner- plastic extrusion technology and (2) met the
gized. There is still drive, because the project needs of the burgeoning manufactured foods
needs leadership and purpose, but the partici- market. Plastic trays for food producers to use in
pants b e c o m e one rather than many. The func- making microwaveable foods was their first new
tions are not just joined or connected; that's the product, and the approach has n o w b e e n ex-
way it was. Dual drive means one drive forged tended to other teams.
from the skills of two perspectives. New products Technical industrial. As an example of
shall exploit one or more of the firm's strong what almost was, one maker of optical scanning
technologies and make a major contribution to equipment felt the business world needed a
solving specific customer problems. product for transferring a typed page to the com-

The Dual-DriveConcept of Product Innovation 33

devices, helping to display options.
Figure 1 One can stay in any particular product/
Product I n n o v a t i o n Strategies in Relation to Performance o f the Firm market b o x or enter any particular box.
If a technology or product is not cur-
rently owned, it can be developed,
PRODUCT rented, or bought. Strategically, the
FIRMS IN INNOVATION firm can use technology drive, market
THE STUDY STRATEGY DESCRIPTORS drive, or dual drive in any of the four
Technologica!ly sophisticated A second related concept is the
Technology-driven R&D oriented offensive/defensive typology. This
L Innovative usually means whether one wants to
lead (be first) or follow. And although
m a n y authors associate offensive with
High R&D spending R&D, all three drives can be used with
High-budget, diverse Shotgun approach any dimension of leadership. One can
Attack new markets be first using market drive; one can be
late using technology drive.
Low R&D spending Empirical Evidence
Low-budget, conservative Undifferentiated products
Synergistic with production
To my knowledge, the only empirical
study that compares the payoff from
Defensive, focused, Low technological sophistication differing n e w product strategies was
technologically deficient Familiar markets done in Canada, and only with indus-
4 L Serve new needs trial firms. Other studies m a y be under
way, but their findings are not avail-
Technologically sophisticated able. In the meantime, F i g u r e s 1 and
Balanced strategy R&D oriented 2 show the Canadian findings. The
Market oriented study sorted respondent firms into five
Large and growing markets
strategy categories, based partly on
focus, partly on aggressiveness, and
partly on innovativeness. I have further
Source.. Robert G. Cooper, "New Product Strategies: What Distinguishes the Top Peueormers, " grouped them by drive.
Journal of Product Innovation Management,June 1984, pp. 151-164. The results are quite clear--firms
that were deliberately committed to
both a market/need focus and to R&D
won. In time we will see whether
purer. They combined that "need" with their opti- these findings hold up in other countries and
cal scanning technology and came up with some other product categories.
new products. Unfortunately, they didn't find out
what the real need was: business firms wanted H o w Dual Drive Helps Solve the Problems
lower-cost ways of original computer e n t r y - -
ways to eliminate the typed page, not optically As a recap, let's go back to the five big problems
scan it. managements cite today and see h o w the new
P a c k a g i n g . Cold cream, soup, fruit drinks, strategy helps solve them.
and toothpaste are just a few of the products Friction. In single drive there is often little
where consumer disinterest in what they felt incentive to w o r k with the other functions, since
were old-fashioned products was combined with the leader tells others what is going to be done. I
n e w packaging technologies to produce what the k n o w that marketers sometimes h o p e technol-
market accepted immediately. ogy-driven projects fail, just so the arbitrary tech-
nocrats will be knocked d o w n a notch. I am told
Contrasts w i t h Related Concepts that the feelings in R&D are often about the same
on market-driven projects. Friction is probably
There is no shortage of concepts in m a n a g e m e n t based most often on the very thing dual drive
literature today, so dual drive must be distin- assures will not h a p p e n - - t w o sets of opinions on
guished from several that may resemble it. First is what the market needs.
the familiar product/market matrix or technology/ Slowness. Slowness is probably caused most
applications matrix, c o m m o n l y used in strategic by the friction just discussed. Second, it comes
market planning. These actually are descriptive w h e n developers go b e y o n d customer needs and

34 Business Horizons / May-June 1991

add unnecessary product
attributes (over-engineer). Figure 2
Third, dual drive softens the Relative S u c c e s s o f D i f f e r e n t P r o d u c t I n n o v a t i o n Strategies
impact w h e n a key player
leaves; single-drive projects
person rather than a team.
And fourth, dual drive helps 1. Technology-Driven Moderate to poor performance.
(Includes "Technology-driven" and Low success, low profitability,
avoid orphan projects, which
"High-budget, diverse" from Figure 1) ranking near the bottom.
are the slowest to m o v e
H i g h costs. All of the 2. Market-Driven Low budget was satisfactory in
above factors cause costs to (Includes "Low-budget, conservative" and performance, but with little effect on
rise. Also, better communica- "Defensive, focused, technologically deficient" sales and profits. Defensive was poor
tion is increasingly seen as a from Figure 1) performance, and deficient on most
cost-cutter. measures.
Excessive involvement
of upper managements. 3. Dual-Drive Fared the best. First o n nearly every
Perhaps the most direct ben- (Includes "Balanced strategy" from Figure 1) p e r f o r m a n c e measure.
efit of dual drive is that it
permits delegation based on
agreement. All too often se- HOW SUCCESS WAS MEASURED
nior managements must bud- 1. Meeting new product program performance objectives
get on faith faith in a person 2. Generating sales and profits
or in a technology. Dual drive 3. Success of the program versus competitors
hedges that bet b y involving a 4. Overall success of the program
team of people and at least
two key players. The plan
n o w has a proven need and
Source: Robert G. Cooper~ "New Product Strategies: What Distinguishes the Top Performers,"
an applicable technology. Journal of Product Innovation Management, Jz, ne 1984, pp. 151-164.
This gives the team strength
to do what some say is their
toughest task: handle the
changing priorities of management. On dual a selection of the really difficult concepts, in the
drive, the entire team resists arbitrary change, but general sequence of action but not a complete
on single drive there is usually only one resister, step-by-step process.
and other team m e m b e r s privately back manage- 1. Dual drive requires identifying an impor-
m e n t - - e v e n feeding information and assistance tant, unmet customer need (present or certain
to them. future) before undertaking extensive R&D. This
P o o r p r o d u c t s . Dual drive avoids the worst costs m o n e y and may seem to slow d o w n the
o u t c o m e - - w h e n buyers don't want or need the real start of the project. Booz Allen & Hamilton
product technologists thought they should. It research (1982) shows that more than 20 percent
avoids trivial innovation, me-too products, and of the cost of n e w product development is n o w
products with no value added. It resists the com- spent prior to the start of R&D.
promises to insignificance. And defective prod- 2. Dual drive requires a thorough study of
ucts are detected during development, because the identified n e e d - - w h o has it, do they know"
dual drive requires that n e w products be field they have it, what have they done about it, and
tested with the customers w h o s e problem the what are competitors doing? Even market-driven
c o m p a n y started with. situations often take these matters for granted,
and technology-driven projects almost always do.
IMPLEMENTATION The Association of National Advertisers recently
asked new products people what they would
M any managements can buy the concept most like additional m o n e y for. At the top of their
of dual drive quickly. They k n o w that list was m o n e y for more study of market situa-
new products are "a mating of technol- tions before technical w o r k is b e g u n (Hoo and
ogy and markets." But to implement dual drive is McDonald 1983). Too often we hear a technical
much tougher than they anticipate. Based on the person state unequivocally the preference of
experience of m a n y firms, it is a totally new way customers. Marketers do the same thing, some-
of thinking about n e w products and requires times with a better base of information and
acceptance of several more key concepts. Here is sometimes not.

The Dual-Drive Concept of Product Innovation 35

3. Dual drive requires that, before R&D, at have dual drive, and those two usually d e m a n d a
least one specific technology be identified that full team.
logically could hold the answer to some or all of 7. Dual drive requires that team m e m b e r s get
the customer needs. In contrast, market-driven a clear assignment with objectives for that team.
programs simply go to technologists and say "do They should k n o w their customer need/technol-
this." ogy mandate, of course, but they should also
4. If the firm lacks that technology, dual drive k n o w their objectives. Are they to produce any-
demands that it be acquired. Too often R&D is thing other than profits, such as sales, market
motivated to d e p e n d on a weaker technology share, viable position in a n e w market, thwarting
and avoid calling for acquisition of the best one. of competitive positions, or enhancement of im-
Wise managements avert this by having technol- age? It is surprising h o w often team problems
ogy audits (some- stem from differing guesses about team objec-
times called technol- tives.
ogy assessments) 8. Dual drive means there must be a plan
"Dual drive requires that done early on. These that spreads out big dollar commitments consis-
audits use a broad tent with the developing information pool. We
team leaders be transfor- definition of technol- should spend wisely. It is not just government
mational managers, fully ogy, meaning the bureaucrats w h o spend authorized m o n e y as
p o w e r to do work or soon as they can; functions tend to as well, if the
able to grasp the nature the p o w e r to solve spenders are free to do so without other func-
and style of general man- problems. This defini- tions' concurrence.
tion includes ma- 9. Dual drive requires that project priori W
agement, motivated to chines, processes, decisions be m a d e at the general m a n a g e m e n t
the longer-term payoff of systems, and net- level. These priorities are then used to guide all
works; it also in- functional groups working on n e w product
project success, and able cludes particular projects. At present, m a n y R&D departments and
to fight off arrows in the persons' minds, spe- marketing departments prepare their o w n project
cific sciences, pat- priorities without enough help from the other
back." terns, and recipes. functions. H o w sad it is to see a technical group
And it includes planning a market s u r v e y t o estimate future mar-
manufacturing pro- ket needs as input to their internal priori W set-
cesses and capabilities, distribution systems, and ting.
even m a n a g e m e n t processes (such as the product Most R&D units like to portfolio their budgets
m a n a g e m e n t systems in consumer packaged to keep some m o n e y available for basic (wildcat-
goods firms). ring) work. Du Pont, for example, allocates 17
Occasionally a key technology may lie in a percent of their billion-dollar budget for that
physicial entity (the 386 chip or MS-DOS), but purpose. Such funds are true technology-driven
technology is broader than that. If a firm is in the situations and support maverick technologies and
business of doing basic research to develop new maverick people. But they are high-risk projects,
technologies (say, D o w with Saran Wrap), these outside dual drive.
outputs in turn may b e c o m e source or imple- 10. Management should make sure there is
mentable technologies for n e w product teams indeed dual drive. There m a y be form without
w h o create what is eventually sold as a product. substance; setting up teams does not generate
Or, the technology m a y itself be licensed or sold. teamwork. They need supportive functional man-
5. Dual drive requires that resilience be built agement heads in the departments and an honest
in. This means anticipating future changes in the desire to m a k e their functions subservient to the
market need and in the selected technology, and twin drives in the project assignment.
being sure of a place to m o v e to if changes block 11. Dual drive requires that team leaders be
the n e w program during development. A dual transformational managers, fully able to grasp the
drive program rarely aborts or waffles, because nature and style of general management, moti-
the system is based on key strengths in the orga- vated to the longer-term payoff of project suc-
nization. cess, and able to fight off arrows in the back.
6. Dual drive requires forming a team of all Most firms don't have enough of these people to
functions that will be of major importance in the staff truly general m a n a g e m e n t positions, let
project. H o w often over recent years have we alone a group of n e w product teams. Fortunately,
b e e n told that manufacturing people should be m a n y dedicated functional managers remain
involved from the beginning? But they often are functional in their perspective , but manage to
not, as firms say they cannot afford the costs of deal constructively with dual drive, After all, un-
teams or they lack the people to staff teams. It der single drive it was w i n - l o s e - - n o w it's win-
takes at least two people (R&D and marketing) to win.

36 Business Horizons / May-June 1991

EXCEPTIONS/CRITICISMS drive and market drive in favor of drive by both,
or dual drive. Every new product project is fo-
very good strategy has its exceptions. cused on a clear and confirmed customer prob-

E Some firms don't really want innovative

p r o d u c t s - - t h e y take their cues from com-
petition. Or they commit totally to o p e r a t i o n s - -
lem and on a specific technology (in R&D, in
operations, or wherever) that m a n a g e m e n t thinks
holds the answer to that problem. Neither of the
solid quality at the lowest cost. Executives from two forces drives anything alone. Together they
these firms skipped this article. can drive powerful, profitable solutions.
But other firms say they don't want dual
drive; they say they are technology committed References
and base their new products entirely on technical
innovation. But the most successful ones (Merck, H. Igor Ansoff and John M. Stewart, "Strategies for a
Herman Miller, Intel, a m o n g others) are not really Technology-Based Business," Harvard Business Re-
one-sided at all. Merck's scientists k n o w full well view, November-December 1967, pp. 71-83.
what the medical problems of the physician are. Roger A. Bengston, "Nine New Product Strategies: Each
Herman Miller's furniture designers w o r k well Requires Different Resources, Talent, Research Meth-
apart from marketing and are actually encour- ods," Marketing News, March 19, 1982, p. 7.
aged not to ask for market research reports. But
in fact they are very close to the world's business Noel Capon and Rashi Galzer, Marketing Technology.. A
office, personally. H e r m a n Miller's famous Action Strategic Co-Alignment (Cambridge, Mass.: Marketing
Office designer, Bob Propst, lived in Ann Arbor, Science Institute, 1986).
Michigan, more than 100 miles from the firm's
marketers. But he literally immersed himself in Robert G. Cooper, Winning At New Products (Don
the problems of the office. Dual drive calls for a Mills, Ontario, Canada: Addison Wesley, 1986).
customer problem, not necessarily that the prob- "Fallon of Eastman Kodak Receives Gantt Medal," AMA
lem originate in the marketing department. Forum, May 1983, pp. 33-34.
Du Pont represents another technology-
driven firm. But it is usually not oblivious to the Christopher Freeman, The Economics of Industrial
needs of its customers either; it k n e w that the Innovation (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books,
carpet industry badly needed something to give 1974).
added resistance to stains. Stainmaster was not a
technology shot in the dark. But Kevlar m a y have Laurie Freeman, "S.C. Johnson Shines with New Prod-
been, and the firm has spent years looking for ucts, Advertising Age, June 10, 1985, p. 4.
problems that needed the Kevlar solution. And
David W. Gibson, "A Maze for Management: Choosing
Du Pont was surprised to learn that most golfers the Right Technology," Chemical Week, May 8, 1986,
didn't want plastic golf shoes. Edwin Land had pp. 74-78.
no doubts that people wanted to see their still
photographs quickly, but he couldn't find a prob- Kathryn Rudie Harrigan, "Guerrilla Strategies for Un-
lem for Polavision to solve. derdog Competitors," Plcmning Review, November
Goodyear didn't need vehicle makers' assur- 1986, pp. 4-11.
ance that synthetic rubber tires would be useful.
Salk didn't need a sales manager to tell him that David Hoo and Robert McDonald, "A Prescription for
doctors would like a polio vaccine if he found Success," a speech given to the Association of National
one. Consumers opted against play-only TV de- Advertisers New Product Marketing Workshop, New
York, NY, November 2, 1983.
vices in favor of play-and-record ones.
Most worthwhile scientific discoveries have Jonathan Joseph, "Don't Stick to Your Knitting," Inter-
b e e n based on well-understood market needs, national Management, March 1986, pp. 20-24.
whereas most scientific b o m b s have not. Unfortu-
nately, it is sometimes considered blasphemous Jeremy Main, "General Foods Goes Back to Growing,"
for a scientist to advocate dual drive. Fortune, January 1983, pp. 92-95.
O w e n s - C o m i n g had a revealing experience
in the mid-1980s. It took a technology-driven John P. McKelvey, "Science and Technology: The
approach to the p r o b l e m of cracked highways. Driven and the Driver," Technology Review, January
The approach failed totally. A second attempt, 1985, pp. 38-47.
with a n e w team, involved highway people from
Russell Mitchell, "The Health Craze Has Kellogg Feel-
the very beginning, and succeeded instantly. ing G->r-eat," Business Week, March 30, 1987, pp. 52-
his article has focused on a growing prac-

T tice in the m a n a g e m e n t of product inno-

v a t i o n - t h a t of discarding technology
New Products Management for the I980s (Chicago:
Booz Allen & Hamilton Inc., 1982).

The Dual-Drive Concept of Product Innovation 37

Harry Nystrom, Creativity and Innovation (Chichester, William J. Spencer and Deborah H. Triant, "Strengthen-
England: John Wiley & Sons, 1979). ing the Link Between R&D and Corporate Strategy,"
The Journal of Business Strategy, January-February
Harry Nystrom, "Product Development Strategy: An 1989, pp. 38-42.
Integration of Technology and Marketing," Journal of
Product Innovation Management, June 1985, pp. 25- Alex Taylor, "Why the Bounce at Rubbermaid?" For-
33. tune, April 13, 1987, pp. 77-78.

Giorgio Petroni, "Who Should Plan Technological "Team Strategy: P&G Makes Changes in the Way It
Innovation," Long Range Planning, October 1985, p. Develops and Sells Its Products," Wall Street Journal,
108. August 11, 1987, p. 1.

James Reid, "A Hero in the Rust Belt," Fortune, January William D. Zarecor, "High-Technology Product Plan-
5, 1987, p. 103. ning," Harvard Business Review, January-February
1975, pp. 108-115.
"Repackaged Products Find New Markets," Marketing
News, February 13, 1987, p. 6.

Robert J. Schaffhauser, "How a Mature Firm Fosters

Intrapreneurs," Planning Review, March 1986, pp. 6-11.
C. Merle Crawford is a professor of mar-
William E. Souder, Managing New Product Innovations keting at the School of Business Adminis-
(Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1986).
tration, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
BJ. Spalding, "How Du Pont Spends Its $1.1 Billion
Budget," Chemical Week, July 31, 1985, pp. 20-23.

38 Business Horizons / May-June 1991