Innovate Your Innovation Process

innovateAre you a small to mid-sized (SME) manufacturing company with a singular focus on understanding your customer needs, providing superior products to meet those needs and growing your revenue and earnings? It goes without saying that for every company, these goals should and do consume significant management bandwidth. The problem is that most organizations become too inwardly focused (1). They do not consider what might be happening outside their company, and even beyond their industry, and leverage that knowledge to create new customer value. This has driven the popularity of the concept of “open innovation”. Maybe we should extend the concept of open innovation to other important aspects of a business such as the innovation management process. Why not, in other words, “innovate your innovation process” by learning from others? Continue reading

Assessing Your New Product Development (NPD) Process

continuous learningFor anyone responsible for managing a new product development (NPD) process, continually assessing your process and learning from other’s experiences is a must. These whitepapers available at no charge cover a wide range of topics including the role of management in NPD success, metrics, project definition, portfolio management and online tools, project risk, among others.   Continue reading

The Politics of ObamaCare: Lessons for Senior Managers and New Product Development (NPD)

PoliticsHow might the politics of ObamaCare offer lessons to senior managers responsible for managing innovation and new product development (NPD)? A recent article (1) about how a key ObamaCare official managed the failed launch of the ObamaCare website offers important lessons for every senior manager committed to maximizing the effectiveness of their organization’s ability to innovate. Continue reading

U.S. Debt, China and Innovation

What does the U.S. debt, the Chinese economy and innovation have in common? More than you think.

Among all the other political stories in the U.S. that consume the media’s attention and many Americans, not much was heard recently about two disturbing trends that will impact the long-term economic well-being of every American household. Continue reading

Measuring New Product Development (NPD) Success

SuccessThere are two important characteristics of new product development (NPD) that are underappreciated. First, NPD is one of, if not the most complex of all business processes. I speak from experience having managed an R&D organization in a mid-sized analytical instrument manufacturer in addition to previous roles in manufacturing, sales, marketing, and customer support. I have intimate knowledge of every business process and there is no doubt that NPD is the most complex. Second, not only is NPD complex, but it is arguably one of the most important of all business processes. New products are the lifeblood of any company, manufacturing or otherwise. Those who do it well prosper. Continue reading

How Incivility Impacts New Product Development (NPD)

Rude2A disturbing trend in business today is the increasing incidence of rude behavior in the workplace. You might dismiss incivility and chalk it up to the increased stress level in every organization today that’s a result of the tough, competitive environment we all face. Senior management might take the attitude that it is small price to pay and employees should be grateful just to have a job.  But what is the impact of incivility on the bottom line, and in particular, the effectiveness of new product development (NPD)? That is the subject of this article. Continue reading

Fostering Inspiration and Creativity in New Product Development (NPD)

creativityInnovation is all about matching a technology to a market need. That is the essence of new product development (NPD). The entire innovation process, whether related to actually engineering the product or addressing a market in a new and unique way, demands high levels of inspiration and creativity among all involved in NPD. Creativity and inspiration is not a process that can be turned into an efficient “algorithm” like so many other business processes. Not much new in those statements. The real question is what levers can management pull in order to influence high levels of creativity? That is the subject of this article. Continue reading

The New Employment Deal and the Impact on NPD Knowledge Workers

I recently wrote a blog post about the impact of demographic shifts and how engineer’s roles are defined. As I pointed out, these demographic changes will impact dramatically how companies manage their talent pool and is happening at the same time that the “employment deal” is changing. Continue reading

The Generalist vs. Specialist Engineer Argument

This topic comes up periodically and a recent article in Harvard Business Review entitled “Redesigning Knowledge Work” prompted me to re-visit my own thinking on the topic.

Specialist vs GeneralistEvery organization who employs engineers faces decisions about how to structure their roles on project teams. I am specifically talking about engineering organizations that employ a variety of skill sets who come together on teams for a period of months to years to develop highly engineered, standardized products. Some good examples include whether an electrical engineer should not only do architecture and design, but also do PCB layout. Or should the PCB layout be done by a lower-level ECAD employee? How about the more senior mechanical engineers with years of experience? Should they be responsible not only for 3D modeling, but detail drawings as well? I think in most cases the roles just “work themselves out” without any specific decisions being made one way or another. That may be a mistake. Of course, decisions about roles influence formal job descriptions, if used, and impacts hiring and recruiting strategies for new or replacement engineers. Continue reading

How Does Job Stress Impact NPD Effectiveness?

For those responsible for new product development, how job stress affects NPD effectiveness has important managerial implications. Most assume that some level of stress leads to improved performance, but there have been few empirical studies. A recent study published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management provides some useful insights. Continue reading