Abusing Lean Methodologies

Lean-PrinciplesLean methodologies emerged in manufacturing and have now been applied to many business processes including innovation management (1). It is the latest “best practice” in manufacturing for process improvement alongside Six Sigma and Theory of Constraints (TOC). But if you are relying solely on the lean methodologies to provide a silver bullet for long term financial success, you are unfortunately fooling yourself. Continue reading

Understanding Risk in Medical Device New Product Development (NPD)

risk_managementNew product development (NPD) consists of workflow, decision and information flow across multiple functions in an organization. Managing and mitigating risk for each project and the entire portfolio of projects is an essential management activity during NPD. A company’s ability to understand and manage risk can mean the difference between financial success and disaster. In developing products for the medical device industry, meeting FDA requirements presents an additional risk factor not found in other industries. This article will address three important sources of risk in developing products for the medical device industry and suggestions on how to manage. There will also be an opportunity to register for an upcoming free webinar that will provide additional information. Continue reading

Leadership Failure at Volkswagen

The revelations that Volkswagen diesel engines were designed to meet emission regulations only during emission testing with special software offers important lessons for the leader of any size business. I certainly have no inside knowledge of the crisis, but clearly it points to deep-seated cultural problems in how VW is managed. If you are an owner, president or CEO of a business, are you fostering a similar culture?  Continue reading

What’s the Next Big Thing in Innovation Management?

big thingA colleague of mine, Robert Brands of Brands & Company (1), recently posed a question. He asked, “…so what do you think is the next big thing in innovation management?” For instance, there are concepts such as “blue ocean strategy”, “open innovation”, “lean start-up strategy” and even “big data” that have occupied much of the innovation management press. Countless books and articles tout the latest “best practice”. What will be next, Robert asked?  Continue reading

Online Portfolio Management Tool: A Case Study

LogoFor any size business that undertakes multiple simultaneous projects, the ability to manage the project portfolio is a constant struggle (1). Think about what happens at most companies, large and small: over time, more projects get started before existing projects are complete, and new ideas become higher priority. Engineers are expected to work on not just one or two projects, which is ideal, but now must multi-task across multiple projects. On top of that, important customers demand new software features or enhancements to existing products or services, further diluting the focus on current projects. Statements like “every project seems to be late, never early”, “we always underestimate project cycle time” and “we constantly pull team members from a project to fix high priority customer requests” are common, especially in small to mid-sized firms. There are simply too many projects for too few resources, and the system grinds to halt. This article will describe a simple-to-use, cost effective online portfolio management tool.  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

Looking Beyond Your “Four Walls”: Revisited

Several months ago, I wrote an article on a topic of great interest to me (1). A consistent problem with many companies I work with is that senior management and those in position of leadership in new product development (NPD) do not consider what might be happening in other industries.  There is a need, as I like to say, to look beyond your “four walls”. 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