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

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

Assessing Disorder in a New Product Development (NPD) Process

order-chaosThose responsible for managing innovation and the new product development (NPD) process face some universal problems. Statements like “every project seems to be late, never early”, “we always underestimate the project cycle time” and “we constantly pull team members from a project to fix high priority customer requests”, are common. These frustrations are manifestations of process and organizational problems that left unaddressed, continue to hinder a company’s ability to develop new products in a timely manner. The problems do not go away and in fact, over time, the negative impact expands. This article addresses some key reasons, in my experience, for an NPD process to move into a higher state of disorder and how to address the root causes. Continue reading

Why Small Companies Need a New Product Development (NPD) Process

I recently read an article that challenged small companies, especially start-ups, to consider an HR (human resource) function. The article provided several reasons why this is typically not considered by small companies and went on to make an argument for a focus on building HR capabilities. The article made me wonder: Do small companies and start-ups have a similar bias against formal NPD processes? I suspect so. Here, I address why small companies should embrace an NPD process rather than resist it. 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

What You Can Learn About Innovation From Unrelated Industries

For manufacturers of highly engineered products common in the B2B industrial world, innovation in industries such as retail, entertainment, and even the transportation industry might seem completely unrelated. You might be surprised. The innovations happening in these fast-moving industries can serve as important lessons for anyone responsible for new product development (NPD) regardless of whether you are in the service or the manufacturing sector. Continue reading

How Project Risk Impacts Project Management in New Product Development (NPD)

Project RiskAn important aspect for driving success in new product development and by extension, long-term firm performance, is to maintain a balanced project portfolio (1). In other words, every organization needs to maintain a mix of different types of projects. From a technology standpoint, this would include for example new products which are extensions of existing technologies, products that exist currently in the market but are new to that firm, and finally more radical, new-to-the-world products. Overlaid on top of the pure technology considerations, other factors come into play. For instance, the nature of the market adds another dimension. Maybe the product will be introduced into a market that is very well understood by the firm. This might be especially true of a product extension. In the case of a product that is based on technology that is new to the firm, but is being supplied by a competitor for instance, the firm may or may not be familiar with those customers. Finally for a radical, new-to-the world product, it is more likely to be sold to a new customer base, or there may be little knowledge on exactly how the product will be used by customers once introduced. Continue reading

Should Time-to-Market Be The Goal of New Product Development (NPD)?

Time to marketIf there is one universal desire of every senior manager responsible for the financial performance of any company, it might just be: “We need to get products to market faster!” It is perfectly understandable. Most companies rely on new products to help drive revenue and earnings growth, and what better way to improve financial performance than to get more new products, and faster? But is that always the best strategy? Many companies emphasize time-to-market, or cycle-time, at the expense of every other NPD goal. Much of the popular NPD literature has done a good job selling this as the goal of NPD, but there is a growing body of evidence that questions the link between this strategy and firm performance. Continue reading