Defining New Products: The Product Definition Decision Model™ Helps Guide the Process

Is creating a written product definition document before starting development on a new product at odds with the lean methodologies that emphasize “fail fast, fail cheap” as a way to allow a product definition to emerge? A recent article proposed that indeed this is not the case (1). This article will expand on that concept and introduce the Product Definition Decision Model™ as a way to guide product definition.  Continue reading

Is Fully Defining a New Product at Odds with a “Minimum Viable Product”?

A recent article focused on the number one problem in new product development: too many projects for the available development resources (1). In that article, one of the prescriptions proposed was to resist the temptation for the scope of a project to expand. Scope creep not only impacts that specific project but the entire project portfolio because of resource dependencies. Continue reading

The Biggest Challenge in Product Innovation May Surprise You

Ask senior executives at manufacturing firms what their biggest challenge is managing new product innovation and you might hear answers such as lack of creative thinking, development teams need to work harder, or maybe that the organization does not have the right skill sets. The truth might surprise you: consistently year-in and year-out, the single biggest pain point in managing product innovation is too many projects for available development resources.  Continue reading

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

The Senior Business Leader as a “Super Product Manager”: The Right Role?

SuperheroA high level of senior management engagement is absolutely critical to the long-term success of any company’s new product development (NPD) and innovation success. A recent article on the role of Jeff Bezos during the development of the Fire Phone (1) led to a question: Can and should the senior manager in a business function as what might be termed a “super product manager”?  By my definition, a “super product manager” drives the process to define what products or services get developed, but is also responsible for the company’s short and long-term financial success and to whom everyone else ultimately reports to functionally. These are two very different roles, and the question addressed in this article is whether this level of engagement in NPD is actually detrimental to a company’s long-term success.  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

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

The Role of Product Definition in Innovation Success-Part I

A key determinate of innovation success is a robust process for choosing and defining new products. This is part of the “fuzzy front end” and sets the stage for successful innovation. I have written extensively about the concept of the portfolio process (1), but in this two-part article I will focus on the role of a solid product definition in innovation success. Continue reading

ObamaCare Website: An Example of How Not to Manage Innovation

ObamaCareUnless you are completely disconnected from the world, you are undoubtedly aware of the issues associated with the rollout of the website for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare. My interest in this article is to explore how this “product introduction” illustrates many of the common pitfalls companies face in managing innovation. Continue reading

New Product Success Rate: Why So Low?

In a recent survey (1), only about 61% of all products launched by existing companies turn out to be successful in the market. When you investigate further, however, you will find that the “best” companies have much higher success rates of around 82% vs. 59% for the “rest”. In this case, the “best” were defined as the most successful or in the top third in their industry for new product development (NPD) success, being above the mean for their new product program success, and being above the mean for sales and profit success from NPD. Why such a significant difference? What differentiates the “best” from the “rest?” Continue reading