Fostering a Culture of New Product Innovation: A Bottom’s Up Perspective-Part III

GrassrootsInnovation is the process that links technology to a market need and results in a product or service of value. But what are the key elements that need to be in place for a company to be innovative? That’s not a simple answer. Every industry, technology, and company is different so what works for one, may not work for another. Every senior manager responsible for their firm’s financial performance and concerned about long-term growth, whether a CEO, president, or owner, wants their organization to be innovative, but what does that really mean?  Continue reading

Fostering a Culture of New Product Innovation: A Bottom’s Up Perspective-Part II

GrassrootsInnovation is the process that links technology to a market need and results in a product or service of value. But what are the key elements that need to be in place for a company to be innovative? That’s not a simple answer. Every industry, technology, and company is different so what works for one, may not work for another. Every senior manager responsible for their firm’s financial performance and concerned about long-term growth, whether a CEO, president, or owner, wants their organization to be innovative, but what does that really mean? Continue reading

Fostering a Culture of New Product Innovation: A Bottom’s Up Perspective-Part I

GrassrootsInnovation is the process that links technology to a market need and results in a product or service of value. But what are the key elements that need to be in place for a company to be innovative? That’s not a simple answer. Every industry, technology, and company is different so what works for one, may not work for another. Every senior manager responsible for their firm’s financial performance and concerned about long-term growth, whether a CEO, president, or owner, wants their organization to be innovative, but what does that really mean? Continue reading

Are Companies Becoming More Risk Averse in New Product Development (NPD) Decisions?

This is an important question to consider for any company engaged in new product development. Every project is unique. Product extensions tend to be lower risk while radical, new-to-the-market products are usually higher risk. While lower risk projects are easier to manage, higher risk projects might provide a much more significant payoff if successful. In today’s economy with fierce global competition, a focus on only lower-risk projects might not be the best decision for long-term company success. 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

The Impact of the Planning Fallacy on Project Management

If you think you have never heard of the “planning fallacy”, you’re wrong. Have you ever undertaken a home improvement project? Consider for example painting a bedroom. You likely came up with a task list that includes removing the furniture, preparing the walls, caulking the cracks, painting the ceiling, then the walls, then the trim…etc. You may have even attempted to lay out a schedule on how long each task would take. Now think about how much elapsed time you thought the entire project would take vs. how long it actually took. Were you overly optimistic? Did you complete the project ahead of schedule? If you are like most of us, you were overly optimistic in estimating the completion date and likely did not consider past projects and how long they actually took. This is an example of the planning fallacy and it can have a significant impact on new product development (NPD) effectiveness. 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 Role of Product Launch Decisions in NPD

Product Launch GraphicWith any new product development (NPD) project, there comes the time when management must decide how and when to announce the new product to the market. This is an especially important decision for highly-engineered complex products. At one end of the spectrum, you might decide to wait until you are essentially 100% sure that all the technical issues have been resolved and shipments can begin immediately upon introduction.  This of course is the least risky decision. At the other end of the spectrum, you might pre-announce the new product well before the technical issues are resolved and even commit to the ship date. This latter decision typically carries significant risk, particularly in terms of meeting the ship dates if there is still much technical uncertainty to be resolved. As with many NPD decisions, context is important, including for instance the type of industry and customer expectations. The decision may be different based on whether the product is an extension of an existing product that is already shipping, a new-to-the-world radical innovation, or is a product and technology new to the firm, but not new to the market. 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