Vocal Insights Innovare's Voice of the Customer - Customer Needs Discovery



About Us

Innovare was founded in 1999 by Don Ross.  At that time many companies were putting in place their stage-gate product development process. Most managers viewed the front-end as an "idea generation process" to fill the development pipeline. Teams would jump right into brainstorming generating 100s of ideas for new products. They would pick the ideas to develop that management liked best. Unfortunately most of those ideas failed. Failure rates were quoted as being as much as 90%.

The problem was that most ideas reflected the internal mindset of the organization and did not address customer needs.

Having successfully led product development in both industrial and consumer markets with a success rate of over 80%, Don firmly believed that the front-end is a "knowledge building process." As a knowledge building process the front-end team goes through a systematic Discovery process to understand customer needs before idea generation. That way the ideas becomes focused on solving the right problems and that increases success rates dramtically.

Innovare was established to provide their highly successful "knowledge building" front-end approach to innovationist.

Since then we have worked with dozens of front-end teams helping them adopt Innovare's front-end to their environment. Our clients include leading brands and companies such as Pepsi, Coke, Xerox, Bayer, Dow, EMD, SealedAir, Praxair, Materion, BlueCross BlueShield, Pearson Education, Harvard Pilgram among others.

We are Front-End of Innovation process experts, excellent team facilitators, highly trained Discovery researchers, and front-end team trainers.

Donald Ross, PhD, MBA

Don is president and founder of Innovare. He is a 30 year practitioner of innovation with extensive experience across industries.  He has a passion for the front-end of innovation. 

He has led the successful development of hundreds of new products and services in both consumer and industrial environments. His customer-focused approach toward innovation has led to over a billion dollars in annual revenues from new products and services.

Don's career spans 30 years as a practitioner of innovation. He has held positions at Hercules, PFW, and Ocean Spray in capacities ranging from product development specialist to senior R&D and marketing executive responsible for enterprise-wide innovation.

Don earned his BS and MS degrees at the University of Massachusetts in food science and microbiology and his MBA from Northeastern University. He has also had executive training in business strategy at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.  

In 2003 he earned his PhD in Nutrition Science and Policy from Tufts University.  His multidisciplinary training prepared him well to approach complex innovation research problems from diverse points of view.   He works at the interface between technology, the customer, the market, and public policy delivering strategic and tactical insights for innovation.

  Don leads all of Innovare's projects and provides hands-on implementation.  When needed he brings in high level consultants to support his work. 

Don's team include a few leading innovation experts like Beebe Nelson and Mike Compeau. 



Beebe Nelson, PhD, NPDP

Beebe Nelson specializes in the design and facilitation of inter-company learning networks .  She is a gifted speaker, facilitator and author.  Her most recent publication "Product Development for Dummies" can be obtained on Amazon.

Some of here other publications include  "Listening for New Products: The Conversations of Product Development", CQM Journal, 1997; “Seven Steps to Strategic New Product Development,” PDMA Handbook of New Product Development, Wiley, 1996; and “Product and Technology Roadmapping,” co-authored with Rich Albright, in the 2004 PDMA Toolbook.

Beebe holds a master’s degree in counseling and a doctorate in philosophy from Harvard University and is certified as a New Product Development Professional (NPDP). She currently chairs the board of Partners in Ending Hunger, an organization that takes a strategic approach to ending hunger in the United States. She is the president and founder of Working Forums, LLC a partnering new product consulting firm found at www.workingforums.com.



Michael Compeau

Mike began his professional career as an analytical chemist at a contract R&D laboratory. In the early 90s, he led Voice of the Customer research for Andersen Windows' startup, Renewal by Andersen. The research defined the startup's product offerings, product design, and sales process.

At Werner Ladder Company, Mike led the creation and roll-out of that $500M firm's first integrated and customer-focused product development process.

Being an early believer in the power of handheld computing, Mike was a lead user of numerous software products and handheld devices, which led to a role as vice president of marketing and business development at Cutting Edge Software in 2000. Since 2003, Mike has provided consulting expertise in product development, Voice of the Customer methods, and effective online sales and marketing.

Mike holds degrees in physical and life science from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in business and psychology from Coe College.







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