Issue 1, 2012 - Kobayashi Maru Thinking: How to Get to Great Faster
Kobayashi Maru thinking provides an approach to solve intractable problems by changing the starting conditions to redefine the problem.
"If it takes one woman nine months to produce a baby, can nine women produce a baby in one month?" This riddle is based on a statement from the classic book "The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering" by Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
This article begins by exploring concerns about adding more people to a project and apparent no-win scenarios. It concludes with examples of Kobayashi Maru thinking in new product development.
A preliminary version of this content was featured in the Kobayashi Maru Thinking: How to Get to Great Faster post on the OpLaunch blog.
View a PDF of the Kobayashi Maru Thinking: How to Get to Great Faster article.
March 2011 - Deliberate practice - Pursuing perfect product launch
This article examines how the interplay of explicit coordination, implicit coorination, and deliberate practice can be fine-tuned to improve product launch outcomes. Deliberate practice is an approah that requires considerable, sustained effort to do something you can't do well. The pursuit of a perfect product launch requires deliberate practice at the team level.
To achieve a perfect product launch, all stakeholders should strive for mutually beneficial goals rather than mutually exclusive goals.
Obtain an online version of the Deliberate practice - Pursuing perfect product launch article.
View a PDF of the Deliberate practice - Pursuing perfect product launch article.
October 2010 - From mediocre concepts to very successful launches - Insights from Pixar on developing great products
This article begins by describing Ed Catmull's (of Pixar) acceptance of the first Randy Pausch Prize in 2008. This prize recognizes cross-disciplinary synergy. It expands on Catmull's statement "If you give a good idea to a mediocre team they will screw it up; if you give a mediocre idea to a great team they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something that works."
Instead of extolling 'one great idea' that sparked a successful development effort, this article presents the case for millions of ideas and decisions that are required for a successful launch.
The implications of Google's "20 percent time" philosophy are compared with Pixar's emphasis on developing one idea within a collaborative environment.
View a PDF of the From mediocre concepts to very successful launches - Insights from Pixar on developing great products article.
March 2010- New ideas and trends emerge on NPD and commercial success. Highlights from PDMA's 33rd International Conference 2009
The 2009 conference explored multiple paths to future success in product development. Participants had an opportunity to explore fundamentals, best practices, new trends and techniques, and case studies.
Networking at the 2009 conference went beyond scouting career opportunities and reconnecting with colleagues. The environment facilitated making connections across disciplines. Financial specialist interacted with marketing experts. Business administrators exchanged ideas with business designers. Critical thinkers with analytical skill encountered those who favor abductive reasoning.
View a PDF of the New ideas and trends emerge on NPD and commercial success article.
February 2010- Mobilizing an innovation network from concept to commercialization
Innovation requires more than asking team members to complete assignments. Maximizing the potential for innovation requires more than achieving superior team performance metrics.
This article explores how to select team members and how to mobilize an innovation network. Suggestions include:
- Anything that minimizes re-work. For example, if a new tool is found to be useful for capturing and sharing customer stories, it should be shared across the team.
- Anything the disintermediates the layers between data and decisions.
- Anything that clarifies how activities today will impact user experience
- Anything that accelerates team learning that results from designing, prototyping, and testing
This article explores factors that impact implicit coordination in new product development such as the role of a launch architect and coordinating development resources.
Implicit coordination is the process that takes place when "team members anticipate the actions and needs of their colleagues and task demands and dynamically adjust their own behavior accordingly, without having to communicate directly with each other or plan the activity."
View a PDF of the Mobilizing an innovation network from concept to commercialization article.
December 2008 - Proactive sales readiness strategies can help companies sell new products more efficiently
Sales readiness is one factor that impacts new product sales. Initially, the resources produced by the extended development team influence sales readiness]. Sales readiness continues to improve as the resources and the teams co-evolve. Better resources improve the performance of the network as individuals identify and contribute more effective resources.
This article compares a rigid new product development approach commonly associated with command-and-control management styles that demand strict adherence to documented processes, best practices, and templates to another approach is characterized by lighter constraints and it seeks to manage emergence.
This article explore sales readiness from five perspectives:
- Established sales representatives
- Neophyte sales representatives
- Developers and domain experts
- Marketing representatives
It includes Dave Snowden's ideas about complex adaptive systems presented in a form more familiar to new product development practitioners:
- New product development involves many interacting elements. To respond to external conditions in the market, it is preferable to have resiliency in the development team.
- Make more decisions in the network and fewer decisions in the management group.
- Select tools that increase promote distributed cognition. This reduces central cognition. Distributed cognition utilizes the capacity of networks (which includes the contributions of a large, distributed sales organization) to provide collective wisdom. In addition, a large group of informed contributors can quickly complete tedious activities (such as indexing and tagging assets) because the tasks can be distributed.
- Because of nonlinear relationships, seemingly minor development decisions may have a major impact on sales. Specific launch results are never guaranteed
- Manage emergence within attractors within boundaries.
It includes information about the development of the SAVO product.
View a PDF of the Proactive "sales readiness" strategies can help companies sell new products more efficiently article.
June 2008 - Insights on Brooks' Law and Launch
What do you do when your launch date is approaching and there are unexpected obstacles? What if you have options to enlist more resources? This article explores the implications of adding resources and minimizing risks.
Alistair Cockburn states "Software development is a series of goal-directed, resource-limited, cooperative games of invention and communication. The primary goal of each game is the production and deployment of a software system; the residue of the game is a set of markers to assist the players of the next game."
Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. is the author of the highly influential book, The Mythical Man-Month, which was first published in 1975. An oversimplified statement of Brooks' Law is "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." Brooks' Law provides an appropriate warning for managers of software projects that are behind schedule. Brooks cites learning curve factors and communication factors as the primary reasons for the additional strain on software projects that are likely to cause them to fall further behind schedule.
Sometimes, Brooks' Law is cited inappropriately as an argument for not adding resources to an understaffed project.
Shurhari is a martial arts concept that Alistair Cockburn and others have popularized to provide software development insights. Shuhari concepts can be used in new product development to reveal insights about learning curves and to facilitate communication. This article explores Shuhari in both discipline specific and NPD contexts. It comments on templates and dramatic contributions to NPD success.
View a PDF of the Insights on Brooks' Law and launch article.
December 2007 - Pricing strategies at Fairchild Semiconductor
At Fairchild Semiconductor, value pricing strategies are based on a framework called EVC - Economic Value to Customer.
How is the value calculated for new, differentiated components? According to Brumana, "Factors that typically increase the value of an electronic component that fulfills a specific function include: reducing the circuit board space requirements, reducing design time, reducing the pin count, or lowering the power requirements. These attributes allow designers to create products more quickly and lower production costs while packing more functionality into a given electronic device."
View a PDF of the Pricing strategies at Fairchild Semiconductor article.
September 2007 - Pricing impacts success in NPD: Experts discuss pricing strategies at Florida PRICEX conference
Who should have responsibility for pricing a new product? Will sales representatives be predisposed to make decisions that lower prices to close deals? Will marketing specialists advocate campaigns to increase product share? Will the finance department insist on increasing margins? Will executives offer special discounts to ensure that quarterly targets are met? What factors impact pricing in the distribution channel? Does the product manager have sufficient influence to set the pricing strategy?
Pricing is evolving into its own discipline. This article explores pricing strategy as a part of the new product development process.
View a PDF of the Pricing Impacts Success in NPD article.
June 2007 - Who will you designate as 'Launch Architect'
In a large percentage of new product efforts, most of the engineering development is finished before the launch plan is assembled. Typically, the launch plan is built by a cut-and-paste method with a predisposition for popular components. To increase the effectiveness of future launches, this article introduces the concept of a “Launch Architect.”
“Launch architecture” is the interdisciplinary design of new product launches. It provides a robust, system-level plan to complete all of the development within the project constraints. It includes the entire launch environment from the macro level of prioritizing product features to the micro level of developing the search engine optimization strategy.
View a PDF of the Who will you designate as 'Launch Architect' article.
December 2006 - In Developing and Launching a Software Product, Try an Underdo Strategy
When creating new software products, sometimes it seems almost impossible to compete. For instance, in the project management software category, how can anyone compete with Microsoft Project—the entrenched leader? And, if the company creates a competitive product, how can they launch it for maximum impact?
This article presents the 37signals method for building better software such as Basecamp and Backpack. 37signals can produce great software faster and more efficiently than most of their competitors. 37signals doesn’t use traditional advertising or PR to persuade potential customers that they have a great product. By using an interconnected marketplace to identify the best solutions from a multitude of alternatives, they rely on the Voice of the Marketplace to drive both sales and product development.
View a PDF of the In Developing and Launching a Software Product, Try an Underdo Strategy article.
April 2006 - Making Robust Launch Decisions [part 3 of 3]
This article covers two commercially available tools from Decision Lens and Robust Decisions. Using products such as these allow team members to contribute effectively, such as voting in real time or offline, voting publicly or privately, identifying inconsistencies mathematically, and also evaluating proposed decisions.
This article defines the "Back End of Innovation." Making robust product launch decisions is one component of the Back End of Innovation. "During the Back End of Innovation, the number of people contributing to the project is maximized and the number of decisions increases geometrically. This provides opportunities for improvements in activities, such as idea management, productivity, orchestration, resource adjustments, and analysis."
View a PDF of the Making Robust Launch Decisions [part 3 of 3] article.
January 2006 - Making Robust Launch Decisions [part 2 of 3]
How can you ensure that your decisions are robust - likely to produce acceptable results for most launch scenarios? This installment presents several decision management techniques to improve the robustness of launch decisions.
"A robust product launch decision must coexist with pervasive factors, such as company culture, portfolio strategy, and an emergent competitive landscape. In addition, a robust launch decision is influenced by the practical constraints of a project schedule. A decision should be neither too impulsive nor too indecisive."
View a PDF of the Making Robust Launch Decisions [part 2 of 3] article.
July 2005 - Making Robust Launch Decisions [part 1 of 3]
To ensure a robust product launch, teams evaluate different combinations of New Product Development (NPD) criteria and alternatives that are more likely to work with changing market conditions. Risks include:
- Execution risk—The risk that designated activities won’t be carried out properly,
- White space risk—Some activities will not be identified in advance, and
- Integration risk—Disparate activities won’t come together at the end.
This article presents a characterization of new launch decision types: simple, iterative, complex, and emergent.
View a PDF of the Making Robust Launch Decisions [part 1 of 3] article.
15 January 2005 - Experts at NorCal Conference provide advice on how to ensure successful launch
A report from a recent conference, "Experts at NorCal Conference provide advice on how to ensure successful launch" in the January issue of Visions magazine. This article summarizes the PDMA NorCal Chapter product launch conference of November 2004 and includes insights from:
- Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceX, a company that is developing launch vehicles (rockets) to access space. Must is a cofounder and former CEO of PayPal.
- Michael K. Tanner, Managing Director of Adexta Inc., a consulting services company for growth stage businesses
- Steven Blank, the author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany: The Road Map for Successful Startups and an entrepreneur who has done eight startups in 25 years
View a PDF of the Experts at NorCal Conference provide advice on how to ensure successful launch article.
15 November 2004 - How to selectively increase attendance at your trade show booth, and gather market intelligence at the same time
The October issue of Visions magazine includes "Trade Shows, Part II -- How to selectively increase attendance at your trade show booth, and gather market intelligence at the same time." This article describes ten-second, one-minute, and five-minute objectives for booth representatives. It contains a generic template for the design of a 10x10 foot trade show booth for a new product.View a PDF of the Trade Shows, Part II -- How to selectively increase attendance at your trade show booth, and gather market intelligence at the same time article.
July 2004 - Boosting the impact of new products at trade shows - Some suggestions on how to do that
The July issue of Visions magazine included a product launch column titled "Boosting the impact of new products at trade shows - Some suggestions on how to do that." Part 1 of this series includes a media kit template for new products. This article is the first to list Mark Hart as the Visions Launch Editor.
View a PDF of the Boosting the impact of new products at trade shows - Some suggestions on how to do that article.
May 2004 - How to improve the early sales performance of 'discontinuous' innovations - the way Vocera did
The April issue of Visions magazine included another product launch column by Mark Hart. The April 2004 article is "How to improve the early sales performance of 'discontinuous' innovations - the way Vocera did!"
This article included an introduction to Everett Rogers’ concept of 'Adoption Potential.'
This article included Everett Rogers’ list of five attributes attract early adopters.
- A perception that the relative advantage is high
- Strong compatibility with current practices
- Low complexity
- The ability to evaluate before adoption
- Observable and immediate results
View a PDF of the How to improve the early sales performance of 'discontinuous' innovations - the way Vocera did! article.
February 2004 - Why public relations can make or break a new product launch
This article explores how public relations can be the decisive element in the launch of certain types of products and services.
How can you maximize the chance a for successful product launch? The starting point is to design and build excellent products and deliver great service. But many times you need more than that. When launching the product, PR can provide a valuable tool to persuade others to see, appreciate—and buy—your new product.
The January issue of Visions magazine debuted the first Launch Pad column by OpLaunch's Mark Hart. The goal of this column is to give "readers a look at this frequently under-reported and under-discussed important segment of the new product process."
View a PDF of the Why public relations can make or break a new product launch article.
October 2003 - How to change direction in new product development in 30 days without a budget
The October issue of Visions magazine included the "How to change direction in new product development in 30 days without a budget!" article by Mark Hart. This article summarizes the steps used to objectively convince a core new product development team to change a key element of a product.
View a PDF of the How to change direction in new product development in 30 days without a budget article.