Geoff Peters is one of the nicest and most professional product managers you could meet. I met him at a product management meeting where he described how a faith-based nonprofit, Compassion International, created their first new product in several decades, called Water of Life.
Geoff is the Product Development Manager for Compassion International, where he works daily to eliminate dozens of poverty-related health issues across 26 developing countries. Throughout his career in product management, he has worked extensively with thousands of church and non-profit leaders to research, develop and launch products and programs that engage US consumers in helping impoverished children and families.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Highlights from the discussion include:
- Geoff started his career doing market segmentation, before learning about product management.
- He pursued and earned the New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification from the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) to discover what product management involves.
- The challenge the nonprofit faces is presenting opportunities in a way that people recognize the difference they can make in the world.
- The dual value chain of nonprofits means the needs to two customer groups (beneficiary and donor) must be simultaneously met with a single product.
- Field research with prospective customers of a new product is critical to success and provides ideas for new products as well as refinements to product concepts.
- Compassion’s dual value chain is providing value to a child living in poverty while also providing value to the donor who funds the work.
To begin creating an innovation capability, Compassion did three things:
- Implement a phase-gate methodology for managing new product development.
- Train key employees on the principles of new product development using the NPDP certification process.
- Create an ideation event that started with a 2-day innovation retreat.
Details on their ideation process:
- 2-day innovation retreat generated about 1200 ideas
- Ideas reviewed and synthesized, resulting in 35 product concepts
- Tested concepts externally with a new market (not existing donors) on the basis of importance and willingness to provide financial support
- Top 10 concepts were tested internally for feasibility and top 3 were pursued further
- Graphics and descriptions for each product were created and tested with focus groups of potential donors
- Product managers were assigned to run with the most promising concepts
Geoff developed the concept of providing safe drinking water, resulting in the Water of Life product, a simple and effective way equipping impoverished families to have clean water.
“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I’m doing a new thing. Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
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