Technical diversity — having an extensive range of product solutions for tackling a design or development challenge — is one of the most important things you can look for in a product development partner.
Without the benefit of technical diversity, your company may fall prey to the hyperspecialization trap. While specialization is good, hyperspecialization is not. Hyperspecialization occurs when firms focus too narrowly on excelling in a few ready-made solutions for a few well-defined problems. While this can be a perfectly serviceable model for low-complexity consumer products, it poses at least three significant dangers for innovations that lie outside this narrow category. Let’s take a look at each.
1. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
This well-known adage perfectly expresses the chief danger of hyperspecialization. Without technical diversity, the design challenge and the solutions for achieving it are viewed through a narrow lens. This lens fails to reveal the complexity of the design challenge and the range of expertise, approaches, strategies, and technologies needed for solving it.
At Pivot International, our industry-leading technical diversity comes from nearly fifty years of product development expertise that spans fourteen industries. This technical diversity is among our greatest strengths. It provides us with a wide-angle lens to investigate the design challenge and accurately identify, integrate, and apply the optimal combination of solutions.
2. Innovation is obstructed.
The development of truly innovative products falls outside the bounds of “business as usual.” It involves the exploration of unknowns and multiple iterations of experimentation and testing. By definition, innovation is never a matter of applying ready-made solutions to well-defined problems. Disruptive innovation, in particular, requires questioning the design challenge itself. Rather than asking, “Do we have the right technical solution to this problem?” it asks, “Are we asking the right questions? How might we reconceive this design challenge to reveal the need for a different set of technical solutions than what it may currently appear?”
Firms caught in the hyperspecialization trap tend to take a “cookie-cutter” approach to product development. They work from the assumption that the problem they are tasked with solving is fairly straightforward and that there is only one right solution. (The narrow solution in which they specialize.) Both assumptions prevent them from thinking outside the box. This shuts down the identification of novel or alternative ways forward and obstructs innovation.
3. Solutions can’t be customized to use-case.
Even in the unlikely case that a hyperspecialized firm manages to grasp the complexity of the use case and design challenge at hand, they lack the breadth of technical diversity to devise customized solutions for it. When a partner hyperspecializes, the odds aren’t in your favor that the optimal combinations of solutions will be selected since there are so few choices. Complex products and use-cases require complex, customized solutions, and only a partner with technical diversity can deliver.
Are you looking for a proven partner to help you bring a complex consumer, medical, or industrial product to market? We can help. Our one-source business model, extensive investment in the latest technologies, and 320,000 square feet of manufacturing capability help companies worldwide create profitable innovations. Contact us today for a free consultation. Together, we’ll make your product vision a successful reality.