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!



10 Most Critical Dimensions for Successful Product Innovation


Managing new product development and innovation is a road with many forking paths and few helpful signposts (just like driving in downtown Boston!).

NPD expert, author and executive advisor, Wayne Mackey, has identified what he believes are the 10 most critical dimensions facing product development leaders.  Each builds upon the other and encompasses the complete value stream of the development process from the highly strategic to the minutest of detail.

Viewed as a whole, the challenges these dimensions present can seem daunting and unmanageable, but according to Wayne, once broken down into constituent parts, each area can be addressed with specific tools that can quickly use data to identify root causes and guide you to an immediate course correction.  For example, properly staffing project teams with adequate resources can be simplified and improved using a simple spreadsheet tool known as a “skills matrix.”  Each dimension has similar tools and methods for deconstructing a problem without wasting a lot of time.

The 10 critical dimensions of product development innovation are:

  1. Cycles of learning – Information flow and risk retirement rates
  2. Resource management – Innovation skills assessment, staff ratios and roles & responsibilities
  3. Organic versus outside growth – Open innovation and strategic supplier /partners
  4. Portfolio investment balance – Translation of the voice of the NEXT customer
  5. Strategy – Innovation, business and development roadmaps and SWOTs
  6. Project management – Schedule and cost predictability, stochastic project planning and incubator projects
  7. Intellectual Property – Protection and management in today’s open environment; the disruptive emergence of 3D printing
  8. Business cases – Financials and how to normalize near-, mid-, and long-horizon opportunities
  9. Value streams – Waste identification and mitigation
  10. Automated data and management information systems

Wayne Mackey will be holding a special executive session to go in-depth on these important decision making areas and showing how to apply a comprehensive suite of tools that product development leaders can use to make data-driven decisions that team members yearn for and the business’ bottom line requires.   The one-day, intensive “Innovation Leaders’ Reboot Camp” will be held July 15, 2014 in Chicago, visit the Reboot Camp’s website for more information and to register online.


Project Post-Mortems Don’t Have To Be Food Fights

food-fight-blogAre your company’s project post-mortem meetings an exercise in lessons learned or a blame game where everyone plays CYA (cover your a**)?  Most likely they start out as the former and devolve to the latter.   With the potential for emotionally charged debate, hopefully this is not a lunch meeting.

The true intent of such meetings is to make sure important learnings are captured, best practices are recorded and costly errors remembered for posterity.  In some instances, not repeating something like a six-figure material selection error could be highly significant to the bottom-line.  Unfortunately, human behavior and psychology can prevent the flow of honest and candid feedback that is required.  Often the problem is not having reliable data to back up the lessons learned which can result in territorial fear and positioning.

To help you learn how to keep egos and personalities in check and ensure that Post-Morten sessions live up to their intended purpose of exposing and sharing valuable project experiences, Management Roundtable is presenting a new webinar with Jeanne Bradford, principal at TCGen, Inc. on “Conducting Fast and Effective Project Post Mortems to Improve Product Development,” on Thursday, March 13, 2014 from 1-2pm ET.

Registration for this webinar is complimentary and we encourage you to share this with colleagues you think may be interested. To register online today, click here.


Product developers to gather at San Francisco Tech Shop to chart the impact of 3D Printing

3D printing is absolutely everywhere right now.
I’ve seen news articles about the wings printed for Victoria Secret lingerie models, 3D printed body parts and pizza and even McDonalds interest in using the printers in their restaurant chain. More and more companies with traditional manufacturing and prototyping methods are increasingly asking themselves: “When is the right time to start paying REAL attention to this?” That time is, apparently, yesterday.

See our previous article with links to additional resources
on 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.

robotic-hand-graphicWhile everyone agrees the field is exploding and cemented into our future, the acceleration of technology is quickly outpacing the attention span of in-the-trenches NPD professionals trying to eke out every last bit of efficiency from their outdated development systems. At a workshop conducted by Management Roundtable (MRT) in Chicago last October, representatives from various companies including Kellog’s, Federal Express and Monsanto, among others, shared their perspectives and current challenges with 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing in the real life business environment, things such as:

  • What are the real business opportunities that this technology opens up and what are the negative tradeoffs?
  • How are most companies currently using 3D printers, and what levels of resources do they dedicate to them?
  • How can 3D printing change your relationship with the customer and how can it improve quality and customer satisfaction?
  • How does the technology correlate into expanding into new markets or improving current market share?

MRT will be conducting this workshop again on March 6, 2014 at the San Francisco location of Tech Shop, a chain where members of the public can have access to and experiment with industrial tools and equipment. See the video above for a quick look at 3D printing at Tech Shop. During this workshop, participants will benefit primarily from:

  • Exclusive participation in the additive manufacturing maturity model benchmarking session
  • Hands-on exercises using 3D printing technology to solve a real product development challenge.

Product development professionals of all industries are invited to join in this important conversation with their peers, as they search for real world answers and existing best practices for this emerging field and how to best make the transition and avoid being left far behind.


Gregg Tong
Management Roundtable, Inc.

Our new blog: MRTplus

Even old stage-gate dogs can learn some new tricks…

OldDogToday over 75% of US firms are using some flavor of the Stage-Gate process created by Dr. Robert G. Cooper over 25 years ago.  In that time it has been credited with positive accolades such as fueling US economic turnarounds and boosting new product success rates, as well as harshly criticized for increasing bureaucracy and creating roadblocks for innovation.  The truth of the matter is likely somewhere in the middle.

An age old business aphorism applies here: “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”  In R&D processes there simply is no one dimensional “Plug and Play” solution.  Schools of thought such as Stage-Gate, Concurrent Engineering, Lean, Agile, Spiral and Theory of Constraints are more similar than dissimilar and one would be best off borrowing what makes sense from all of them than following one plan’s instruction manual verbatim.

The biggest mistake people have made about Stage-Gate is thinking that it has not evolved.  The method’s creator, Dr. Robert G. Cooper, has spent a great deal of his career improving and refining his techniques to stay in tune with current technologies as well as business economics.  He travels the world visiting companies using his methods, studying their results and updating his toolset.  Understanding that time-based competition and speed-to-market are constants in the NPD formula, Dr. Cooper has focused primarily on methods for accelerating development processes to meet the demanding pace of today’s markets.

Dr. Cooper’s latest thinking focuses on a few critical aspects of product development, based on his research and hands-on experience with numerous global Fortune 500 firms.  He calls his latest augments the “Triple A Idea-to-Launch” system, which encompasses:

  • A1 – Adaptive and Flexible
    • Spiral development for rapid customer feedback
    • Scaling the Stage-Gate process to fit the scope of the project
    • Gates integrated with portfolio management
  • A2 – Agile
    • Using value stream analysis and removing unnecessary tasks
    • Integrating Agile techniques with Stage-Gate
  • A3 – Accelerated
    • Finding overlap opportunities for concurrent development
    • Proper assignment of resources and use of cross-functional teams
    • Robust system for defining product requirements on the “fuzzy front end”

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Cooper’s latest thoughts and augmentations to the Stage-Gate process and what it takes to set up your own “Triple A I2L” system, he will be speaking at a free webinar presented by Management Roundtable – see link below for details and online registration.


Deconstructing the elements of strategic thinking for Agile R&D

brain_on_fireCan people be strategic on purpose and how hard is that?

Strategies are like opinions, everyone is bound to have one, but the quality of them is tremendously variable.  Apple, Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft and Google all have mobile technology strategies, but vastly different results, especially over time.  Not all strategies are created equally and must also be frequently adapted and evolved.

Most of the time, successful strategies are only understood in hindsight, even by the people executing them.  After the iPod was a clear winner, stories about their strategic foresight around building a product ecosystem seemed to abound.  Of course, all the technology investment and partnership risks would not be as glowingly praised if the iPod had turned out more like the iMac or the Newton.  The fact that Apple’s current industry position appears fragile and temporary shows the fleeting nature of all business strategy.

But the question remains, what is the secret sauce of strategy and can it be broken down into a set of skills that anyone can develop and follow?

Doing Things Right vs Doing the Right Things

Efficiency at a specific development task could be considered waste if done on a program that performs poorly in the market.  Greg Githens, aka “The Strategic Thinking Coach“, believes that when it comes to leading R&D and product development most people’s current problem solving skills can be the building blocks to strategic thinking, but that most people have not conditioned themselves to bridge the gaps and make the right connections.

These gaps include:

  • The ability to envision a product’s value stream and see connections that create strategic value for the company
  • The ability to create a strategic vision, communicate it clearly to others and use it as a driver and motivator
  • Seeing the total enterprise as a system and how each piece works together to deliver on the strategy

Understanding how to switch into this mode and how to track and manage the output of your strategic thinking is one of the keys to keeping strategic thought more organized rather than random brainstorms.

Greg Githens will be sharing his experiences coaching R&D executives on strategic thinking at an upcoming FREE webinar from Management Roundtable:


Will the 3D printer become the newest “Machine that Changed the World”?

I’ve been watching 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing for almost 20 years, when we used to refer to it as “rapid prototyping” and “stereolithography.”
  The industry has seemed somewhat dormant over that time, but as it matures and breaks free from the realm of “potential” into the role of “game changer,” it’s Q rating and industry mind-share are at an all time high.

In the short video above from GE, you’ll see a quick rundown on how additive manufacturing works, some samples of the types of wares it can produce, and a few of the top level business benefits for product development and engineering.  Back in the day, people used to hype the technology’s high ceiling of benefits the same way they do today, but now the economics, the sophistication as well as the need for it seems to currently be in a place that is brewing its respective “perfect storm” and putting us on the doorstep of something special.  It’s been a long wait, but the payoff may be worth it.

We are not as far from the Jetson’s future of a replicator in every house as it would seem.


To help you get up to speed with the latest trends, research and industry figures regarding how 3D printing, along with Big Data and the Internet of Things, could create a new industrial revolution, we’ve compiled some links to web resources and a couple recent white papers that will help you round out the big picture of what this could mean to your business and industry.

There are also 2 white papers that can be sent to you via email on request using the form below.  These white papers are:

  • Additive Manufacturing: Turning Mind into Matter (May 2013) by Neil de Beer for Sierra College/CACT.  This report describes the background and current trends of AM, covering a brief historical account of the past year; discussions on new applications for different industry groups; and ending off with a discussion on the emerging DIY maker community and a host of new business models that are challenging conventional ways of product development and distribution
  • Additive Manufacturing: Status and  Opportunities (March 2012) by Justin Scott, Nayanee Gupta, Christopher Weber,  Sherrica Newsome, Terry Wohlers, and Tim Caffrey for the Institute for Defense Analyses.  This paper provides a general overview of the AM industry, it’s opportunities, weaknesses and recommendations for future progress.