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

Online Portfolio Management Made Simple

SimplicityFor any size business that undertakes multiple simultaneous projects, the ability to manage the project portfolio is a constant struggle (1).  In particular, the portfolio over time tends to move to a higher state of disorder akin to the concept of entropy (2). Think about what happens at most companies, large and small: over time, more projects get started before existing projects are complete. 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, 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.  Continue reading

New Project Portfolio Management Tool for Small to Mid-Sized Companies

LogoFor any size business that undertakes multiple simultaneous projects, the ability to manage the project portfolio is a constant struggle (1).  In particular, the portfolio over time tends to move to a higher state of disorder akin to the concept of entropy (2). Think about what happens at most companies, large and small: over time, more projects get started before existing projects are complete. 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, 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.  Continue reading

Project Portfolio Management Tool for Small to Mid-Sized Companies

Portfolio2For any size business that undertakes multiple simultaneous projects, the ability to manage the project portfolio is a constant struggle (1).  In particular, the portfolio over time tends to move to a higher state of disorder akin to the concept of entropy (2). Think about what happens at most companies, large and small: over time, more projects get started before existing projects are complete. 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, 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.  Continue reading

The Innovation Planning Paradox

planningConventional wisdom is that a robust planning process is crucial for long term financial success. Countless books, articles and consultants emphasize the importance of long-term planning in managing innovation. Surveys suggest that companies with effective planning processes are more satisfied with their ability to innovate. For some companies, the new product development (NPD) planning horizon may be measured in months, but in other industries such as pharmaceuticals and chemicals, it may be measured in years. A recent biography of Bill Cook (1), an entrepreneur who started Cook Inc., a private Indiana-based +$1B medical device manufacturing company, made me wonder: Is a formal, robust long-term planning process a necessary condition for innovation success?  Continue reading

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

The Second Machine Age and Business Model Innovation

Book ImageThe Second Machine Age is the title of a recent book by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (1). The topic ties in well with my recent article on the importance of business model innovation (2). I also believe the book does an excellent job constructing a useful mental model to help put in context what we are currently witnessing in the economy today.

The primary theme of this book is that we are in the first stages of the second machine age marked by digital technologies that will finally begin working together to create new opportunities for innovation. The digital technologies include not just computer hardware, but software, AI, networks such as the 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

Practical Tools for Project Portfolio Management-Part II

Portfolio2For any size business that undertakes multiple simultaneous projects, the ability to manage the project portfolio is a constant struggle (1).  In particular, the portfolio over time tends to move to a higher state of disorder akin to the concept of entropy (2). Think about what happens at most companies, large and small: over time, more projects get started before existing projects are complete. 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, 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. Continue reading