A consumer-products company had the formula for hairstyling mousse in its files nearly two years before the product was introduced on the market by a competitor. When the company finally brought out its own mousse, a year after the competitor’s product debuted, it was able to garner only about 15% of the market share. Industrial psychologist Bernard Rosenbaum remembers being told by the head of research and development that the firm’s failure to be the first on the market “was solely because of [R&D’s] inability to present the concept at the product-development meeting.”

A manufacturer of testing equipment for the microchip industry was asked by a customer to revise its testing device to accommodate twice as many chips. When the manufacturer failed to come up with the requested product, the customer developed its own equipment, which it then introduced on the market. “The customer became the competitor,” Rosenbaum recalls, and...

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