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The Balancing Act Between Desirability, Feasibility and Viability Separates Winners from Losers

What makes a product successful in the market place? What are the predictable indicators that a concept has the “right stuff” to be a huge success? What is the fundamental criteria that turns promising concepts into winning new products?

Here it is in a nutshell – all successful new products are found at the overlapping intersection of what design thinkers call the “Triad of Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability”. I call it the “Criteria For Success Triad.”  If any one of these success criteria is missing – the product won’t be commercially successful.


Figure 1: The Criteria for Success Triad

The Criteria for Success Triad

The three overlapping criteria that a new product concept must address to be a market successes are:

Desirability: The willingness and eagerness that a customer will “hire” the solution once they are aware that the solution exist. Perhaps they weren’t even aware that they had the problem, but using frameworks like “jobs-to-be-done innovation lens” and “design thinking”, we are able to present a solution and story that resonates with potential job executors.

Feasibility: The technical aspect for creating a successful product using the current and near future technical and operational capabilities of a firm and its partners. Sure everyone wants a Star Trek transporter – but good luck on implementing that technology any time soon.

Viability: What is likely to become a sustainable business model. The business model has to be able to reach our target customers (marketing and sales). Deliver consistent value and delight to a large enough target market. And at a price-to-cost ratio that makes the venture worth competing for.

If the business opportunity is outside the boundary of any of the three criteria, we will need to rethink how we manage the constraints to deliver customer value. And/or create a whole new playbook and redefine the boundary constraints to our advantage. Thus allowing us to define a new game (i.e. a blue ocean), with new rules where we can successfully compete and win the game.

So there it is –  the  criteria for success triad – that all successful products exhibit. Missing one or more criteria is like missing a leg on a three legged stool – it simple won’t be commercially viable. Now the question is:

“How do we plan our innovation and development project to make sure you at the end of the development process – all legs of the triad are addressed?”

Use the Business Model Canvas as a Planning Tool to address the three success criteria

There’s a tool I have talked about in previous articles called the “Business Model Canvas.” It was created by Osterwalder and Pigneur. The business model canvas provides a clear approach to early stage strategy and business planning. I find it far more useful of a tool than trying to create a business plan – that is far too often loaded with assumptions, and useless information.

Using the business model canvas as our starting point to create a winning strategy, we can put our best assumptions (our business hypothesis) up front and center. We will test, hone and adapt our hypothesis as we learn what the market requirements are to consistently deliver value at a price and cost for the business model to be viable.


Figure 2: Business Model Canvas

Mapping the criteria for success onto the business model canvas

Each block in the canvas corresponds to one of the criteria.

Desirability: The Customer Segments (i.e. job executors), The Value Proposition (i.e. important jobs-to-be-done), and the Customer Relationship (i.e. – how we treat and interact with our customers).

Feasibility: Key Activities, Key Resources, and  Key Partners, define our ability to create and produce a winning product.

Viability: The Channels – to sell and deliver the product and favorable experience to the customer. The Revenue Stream – how we make money delivering the product and experience to the customer. And the Cost Structure –  what it will cost us to delivering the product and experience.


Figure 3: Criteria for Success Triad

Using the Criteria for Success Triad and the Business Model Canvas, we can chart a course to achieve success in our innovation and new product development endeavors.

Here’s to successfully venturing into white spaces and blue oceans and winning the game!


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