Ways to Survive Disruption

Much has been written about the concept of disruption, which is happening more often due to the pace of technological innovation. The concept was made popular by Clayton Christensen in his landmark book, The Innovator’s Dilemma. But for those companies who recognize that they are being disrupted, what options do they have to survive? This is the subject of an excellent article in the December 2012 edition of the Harvard Business review. Continue reading

Disruption and 3D Printing

It is becoming easier to find examples of disruption all around us. The world of 3D printing is a fascinating example that is playing out right in front of our eyes. A recent article in the Economist provides a good overview.  3D printers have been around for several years, but MakerBot_Replicator2_Front_View-700x466have been mainly marketed to industry as a tool for rapid prototyping.  At a cost of $15k on the low-end, they are not practical for home use. That is changing. For instance, you can now buy a 3D printer for about $2k from Makerbot (www.makerbot.com). The Replicator™2X shown in the picture is their fourth generation product. Continue reading

The Use of External vs. Internal Resources for Industrial Design

In a recent post entitled “Are You Disregarding the Importance of Industrial Design?” I discussed the importance of industrial design. I believe companies who manufacture industrial products, and small to medium sized businesses in particular, tend to ignore this important source of competitive advantage. How the product looks influences the meaning that customers assign to the product. It is the meaning of the product that impacts the emotional aspect of the purchase decision. Continue reading

Are You Disregarding the Importance of Industrial Design?

Companies that manufacture sophisticated, highly-engineered products focus much of their attention on performance attributes. This is especially true for companies whose products are sold to other businesses as opposed to consumer products.  In creating the product definition, we ask questions like: What do customers need in terms of performance and are we capable of supplying that? What are competitors doing and how do we gain competitive advantage? Continue reading

Managing Complex Projects: The Boeing Dreamliner

Boeing’s continuing woes on the introduction of the Dreamliner was in the news again last week, as the FAA has launched an investigation of the world’s first carbon-composite airliner. I remember reading an article recently that described the history of problems and boeing-787-dreamliner-300x225delays with the development of this radical new plane. It uses new engine technology that represents almost a two-generation jump in technology and because of its light-weight carbon composite construction weighs less than current airliners. All this leads to a 20% fuel savings and is the reason why airlines are clamoring for deliveries according to this article. As a result, there have been multiple project management shake-ups as might be expected given the high stakes involved. But how can this be happening at company like Boeing with years of experience in managing large, complex projects? Continue reading

Is a Phased Development Process a Project Management Technique?

The new product development process (NPD) can be represented as a “funnel” or alternatively as a “vortex” as illustrated in the figure below. A funnel implies a more orderly process; a vortex better represents the chaotic nature of new product development. At the infographictop of the vortex is the universe of product ideas that a company could potentially work on. The ideas have to be screened and prioritized as every company has resource limitations and cannot possibly, nor should they, develop every idea into a product. Once a decision is made to develop the product, then a common approach is to use a “phased development process” with its series of phases and gates to guide the product development. Continue reading

A Perspective on Scrum

For companies that manufacture highly engineered products, the importance of software continues to grow. Software is critical in many ways, but two aspects in particular stand out. First, software provides an opportunity for competitive advantage. In today’s business environment, product performance alone may not be sufficient. Second, for a company who developed project management experience on projects that are primarily hardware-centric, as the software component becomes more important, managing software development is challenge to these companies. It is also the source of significant schedule risk.   Continue reading