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


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.


Finding the leverage points in your innovation system


The ancient Greek engineer Archimedes is famous for saying “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world.”  The beauty of the concept of leverage is that it can be applied to most of life’s efforts, whether it be moving a rock, running a shop floor, or even managing product development and innovation.

Every complex system like new product development is composed of a wide range of interdependent events, all reacting to and affecting one another simultaneously on multiple levels.  When these systems reach inevitable bottlenecks or changes pop up with market conditions or customer needs, managers can easily misidentify root causes and apply the wrong resources to solve the wrong problems.  Add in the dimensions of a multi-project environment and time-to-market pressure and it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost all control.

Mike Dalton, author of “Simplifying Innovation: Doubling Speed to Market With Your Existing Resources,” believes that finding the proper leverage points in your system is the key to unlocking faster cycle times by preventing you from wasting valuable time and resources.  In his many years of experience leading product and business development teams, Mike has identified common leverage points each business faces which he calls “7 Critical Obstacles to New Product Success”:

  1. Lack of focus on key programs makes everything take longer & cost more
  2. Multitasking & interruptions waste valuable resources
  3. Limited resources are wasted on projects that just get canceled anyway
  4. Not enough resources focused on programs that are going to move the needle
  5. No early warning provided before programs start to go off track
  6. Disagreements over priorities put multiple timelines at risk
  7. Repeated crises stretch talent too far

Mike will be exploring these issues and various methods and tools for addressing them in an upcoming free webinar produced by Management Roundtable:

MRT_Webinar_BannerDoubling Speed-to-Market and New Product Profits
How simple constraints-based methods can accelerate growth
May 15, 2014 – 1:00-2:00PM ET

For more information and to register for this session, click here.  There is no fee for this webinar and you are encouraged to foward this information to any of your colleagues that you think may be interested in attending.

NoExcusesPD_DaltonAs part of this webinar, we are also offering a free white paper, “No Excuses Product Development,” from Mike Dalton which further details the 7 obstacles listed above.

Fill out the form below to request your free copy of this paper:

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.