Kano Methods Uncover the Devilish Details of Customer Satisfaction

The Kano customer satisfaction model provides a disciplined process for using customer data to uncover hidden needs and the key features that trigger purchase decisions.  In the webinar posted below, expert Wayne Mackey walks us through the Kano methodology, provides some examples of how it is best employed and also talks about a new collaborative program to help people get the most out of what these important tools can offer.




The Kano Cupholder Conundrum: How well do you know which features actually sell your product?


“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” is how the old saying goes that illustrates the vast diversity of the human concept of value.  What is essential to some is meaningless to others, which represents the most perplexing challenge of product definition and portfolio management.  Even if you could put every feature possible into a product, research has shown over and over again that only a critical few will affect the customer’s purchase decision.

The automobile cupholder is the perfect example of a product feature that was considered an afterthought by most, but which actually held tremendous power over the consumer, sometimes holding the important distinction of “dealbreaker” if missing or poorly executed.  The challenge for product developers is to find a systematic way to focus scarce innovation resources on these powerful features and minimize time wasted on insignificant others.

The “Kano” customer satisfaction model, named after it’s creator, Noriaki Kano, was created to help product developers analyze their product around how customers view important features.  At it’s basic level, the premise is that most features fall under one of three categories:

  1. “Must Have” features are basic necessities and requirements of a product.  For example, tires are a “must have” feature of a car.
  2. “One-Dimensional” features are those with variable performance where value and price can increase when the performance increases.  In a car, one could consider engine horsepower to be this type of feature.
  3. “Attractive” features are those which can greatly delight and even “excite” the customer.  This is where you can get the most surprises, such as a simple and low-cost feature like cupholders or when heated seats were first introduced to cold climate drivers.

By doing a formal Kano exercise, including customer surveying and data plotting/mapping, one can quickly identify areas to focus on which will affect the bottom line and help teams make better decisions on critical design tradeoffs and investments.

If you’d like to learn more about the Kano model and how to make it work for you, Management Roundtable is offering a free webinar on June 10, 2015, “Kano Innovation Collaborative: Finding True Differentiators – Making More Profitable Products.”  Follow the link provided for more information and to register for this session.


Staying in tune with the evolution of the digital consumer…

In an age where college hobbies quickly become multi-billion dollar digital megaliths, keeping on top of what influences customers during the dawn of the “Internet of Things” phenomena seems like trying to hit a target that’s moving at light speed. As soon as companies had websites mastered, along came Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, and just a few years later, those are now graybeard dinosaurs threatened by an influx of new upstarts.  How can we possibly update our approaches to stay in tune when the rules of the game and the players themselves never stabilize?

In a recent webinar with Dave Norton from Stone Mantel, a firm focused on creating meaningful brand experiences, he outlines 8 digital success factors and specific ways in how customers are changing today’s and tomorrow’s rules of engagement.  Below you can review the slides presented at the webinar which discusses how ideas such as Positive Computing and IoT are creating new opportunities to engage customers on deeper and more meaningful levels.

This webinar was produced in conjunction with Stone Mantel’s annual retreat for digital strategists. Called “Summer Camp,” this is a different kind of learning and networking event intended for executives and their families to have a relaxing and fun excursion at a beautiful venue while collaborating with peers to learn the latest tools and methods that bring digital strategy to life.

Summer Camp is strictly limited to 25 participants and will take place August 5-7, 2015 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado springs.  For more information, click here.


Innovation’s Latest Frontier: Business Models


For most companies, innovation is a relentless pursuit, forever in the chase but rarely crossing the finish line. Many are currently finding they’ve reached a ceiling on improving their products and services that can’t be solved with anything less than a reboot.  Clever companies are instead discovering ways to change the game completely by reinventing the entire business model to grow and expand their market and change the economics more in their favor.

Many mistakenly judge this approach to be too time consuming or too large of a problem to swallow.  However, there are approaches and tools to make business model innovation a manageable and worthwhile endeavor.  Today, most product developers are well aware of the “disruptive innovation” approach that highlights lucrative opportunities, while the recent “Lean Startup” movement has fueled numerous entrepreneurs to use relentless experimentation as a key ingredient to quickly and effectively capture new markets.

bizmodelvennAnother increasing development is the era of partnerships and co-development. Businesses exist in markets that are increasingly referred to as “ecosystems” where aligned companies collaborate to combine strengths and create a more robust market that can better meet customer needs. Whether you need a technology, a manufacturing capability or a service infrastructure, the right partner can create market leverage that is unattainable separately and can provide unique value that wins on customer choice.

Management Roundtable has partnered with Michael Docherty of Venture2, Inc., on a new workshop designed to help companies who need a plan for developing new business models to achieve growth goals and ensure long-term profitability.  Docherty brings many years of hands on experience in both the corporate and entrepreneurial arenas and has helped develop numerous business models for companies and clients.  He has developed some very helpful tools and processes for leading executives on how to uncover and tackle the best business opportunities.

Joining Michael Docherty as a co-instructor is Asoka Veeravagu, Vice President of Transformational Innovation at Jarden Consumer Solutions.  Asoka brings his extensive industry experience leading teams chartered with identifying, developing and commercializing new growth opportunities at companies including Jarden, General Motors, Ariba, Inc., and Motorola.

Vice Presidents, Directors and other decision makers from R&D and product development areas are invited to attend this important seminar that will feature experiential exercises and illustrative case examples to guide participants towards creating their own custom strategy and gameplan for business model innovation.

Innovating New Business Models: Building a Playbook
February 17-18, 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Click Here for More Information
$300 Early Bird Discount when you register by 12/31/15!


Is your unbalanced product portfolio the root cause of NPD failure?

Time is money

According to New Product Innovation expert Dr. Robert G. Cooper, one of the most important ways to win at product innovation – effective portfolio management and making the right investment decisions – is missing in most firms.  He has studied top product development firms around the world and his research has identified common weak points that can be sourced to the product portfolio management process.

Did you know that…

  • 76% of businesses have too many development projects for the limited resources available – projects are greatly under-resourced! So they take too long.
  • 81% of businesses have unbalanced portfolios – far too many ‘small’ projects.
  • Almost 90% of businesses have “few or no” high value projects in their development pipelines.
  • Three-quarters of businesses confess to “poor project prioritization”.
  • And less than one-quarter of businesses have an effective portfolio management system in place.

Dr. Cooper is working with Management Roundtable to provide an intensive two-day seminar that focuses on strategic portfolio management – how to develop your product innovation strategy, and then how to use that strategy to make better development investment decisions. It is based on principles outlined in his two popular books: Winning at New Products – Creating Value Thru Innovation and Portfolio Management for New Product Development.


How do Agile Software Development Practices Translate to Hardware Development?

In this short video segment, Andrew McCaskey of SDRNews speaks with TechZecs‘ Scott Elliott on the latest successful efforts to apply best practices in agile software development to physical product development environments.  Scott answers such questions as how scrum and other techniques are adapted and applied outside of the software realm and on hardware components such as ASICS design.  You’ll also hear how advancements in prototyping have accelerated R&D cycles, a key factor in achieving lean product development.


Wherefore art thou “Lean Product Development”?

shakespeare-bigAs “agile” software development practices spread into all aspects of standard product development, and latching onto the “lean” label, it is often a valuable exercise to try and get a better understanding of where something comes from, how it has evolved and what’s different today.

While what is generally understood today as “Lean Manufacturing” can be linearly sourced to post WWII Japan, Toyota, Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo et al, components of lean existed prior to this from numerous manufacturing revolutionaries such as Fred Taylor, Henry Ford and many others.  Even so, the “Toyota Production Method” is the dominant force in Lean Manufacturing.  Product development and engineering, by contrast, doesn’t yet seem to have settled on a stable definition of its methods.

When it comes to using lean/agile concepts in managing engineering projects and product development, there is, in fact, a defined lineage.  While it is impossible to cover every possible contribution and attribution to the “Lean PD” body of knowledge, here we’ll attempt to at least uncover the major players responsible and the current state of its affairs.

At the beginning of the Lean Product Development movement sometime in the mid- to late- 1990s, most proponents logically began with trying to replicate the Toyota model, attempting to find analogues between manufacturing and engineering.  However, many soon realized that the inherent differences between the two rejected wholesale mimicry, which opened the door for an evolution of the practices to include related management techniques, such as Six Sigma, DFM/A, Theory of Constraints, Agile Software methods and other bodies of thought.  Complicating matters further was the friction from recently entrenched phase gate systems, splitting managements already short attention span.

In the current iteration, what seems to be gaining the most traction is Lean/Agile methods as characterized by someone like Mary Poppendieck, augmented with  sound economic-leaning lean product development principles, as characterized by the work of Don Reinertsen and the late Preston SmithTheory of Constraints, or, more specifically, Critical-Chain Project Management, has it’s place as well in the Lean PD toolbox.  As evidence, there are also new software products being released to help NPD teams embed these principles in their workflow practices.

Two key pieces of Lean Product Development are the time/speed and economic dimensions that guide decision making.  Concepts such as “cost of delay” which assign dollar values to schedule setbacks provide managers with a more clear cut perspective on how to employ scarce resources without harming the bottom line.   Similarly, using critical chain methods, many projects avoid multitasking that elongates task duration and focusing workflow to be more effective at meeting deadlines.

Lastly, tools that provide visual representations of project management, “Haijunka boxes” for engineering so to speak, can greatly speed up communication among team members and even automate task management.  We predict more software tools and mobile apps to more greatly enable this in the near future.

It has taken several years, but “Lean Product Development” seems like it is settling down to a more finite set of principles that may gain the wide acceptance of it’s manufacturing sibling.  As software invades more and more products and companies are forced to adopt more and more software development capabilities, this melding of the Agile software and traditional Lean PD world has produced a hybrid that is gaining notice and popularity, and may finally push Lean Product Development to more of the forefront.

Want to learn more about Agile/Lean PD in Practice?

Attend our upcoming webinar:
Lean and Agile Methods and Tools for Product Development:
How Arthrex Corporation Cut Development Time by 50%

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 / 1:00-2:00pm ET