What makes for a successful product launch?

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Creative thinking alone doesn’t guarantee success according to Alain Sylvain, CEO of strategy firm SYLVAIN.

Pour enough money into R&D and it will lead to lucrative new products, right? Wrong.

“Creativity is important, but timing, I argue, is
more important than creativity,” said Alain, who
contends that, while creativity fuels new ideas,
peak innovation happens when an idea aligns
with cultural appetite, individual desire and
technological capability.

Alain points to the Beatles as an example: “A lot
of people say the impact of the Beatles – not only
on rock and roll, but on all of Western culture – is
simply incalculable.”

Though considered creative geniuses, their music
was not actually that original. “[They] played Black
American music … There was nothing unique,” Alain
said. Their success owed more to timing, coinciding
with the counterculture movement of the 1960s, birth
control, civil rights, and the growth of mass media.
The world was ready for the Beatles’ music.

Throughout history, good ideas have often come
before their time. The elevator, for instance, was
invented 100 years before it really took off. Why? The
cultural climate and infrastructure weren’t prepared.
Likewise, many tech inventions flop due to poor
timing. Back in 2013, Google Glass lacked cultural
appetite and the Pebble smartwatch had valuable
tech, but no app infrastructure. In 2020, Clubhouse
buzz quickly faded when people returned to offices

On the flip side, the ‘stay home; avoid contact’
conditions of Covid-19 enabled certain products –
such as Peloton, QR codes, and Crocs – to reach peak
impact. The climate, individual appetites and tech
capacity miraculously aligned.

So how can companies set their ideas up for peak
innovation? Alain advised examining the past, present
and future. “Always put it in that context,” urged the
CEO, “because your creativity exists in the context
of time.”

Innovation isn’t everything, but timing just might be.

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Main image of a hand holding a stopwatch. The thumb is placed over the stopwatch button.: Web Summit

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