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.

 

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


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“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.

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


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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.

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10 Most Critical Dimensions for Successful Product Innovation


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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.

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Picking Partners of Choice from Your Supply Chain


outsourcing-recruitingA long time ago I learned that often the best suppliers aren’t the ones that can deliver on their end of the contract but the ones that prevent you from making your own mistakes.  For example, a good component supplier is one that builds what you order exactly to spec and delivers on time.  A GREAT supplier is one that notices you specified the incorrect material and checks with you to make sure, even at the expense of a delay, saving you a lot of money and time.  The next generation of great suppliers are the ones that you choose to participate early in the design and innovation of the product, but identifying those with partnership potential can be a tricky process.

Dr. Robert Handfield, Director of the Supply Chain Research Cooperative at North Carolina State University, has spent his career researching how companies integrate suppliers into new product development, the deliberation that goes into the insource/outsource decision, and the methods used to identify potential supplier partners.

Dr. Handfield will be discussing his research and recommendations for companies during an upcoming free webinar, “Insourcing & Outsourcing Design & Development – Creating Supplier-Led Innovation” on Thursday, March 19, 2014 at 1-2pm ET.

Information will be presented from the National Science Foundation’s three-year study on “Supplier Integration in New Product Development” and subsequent book published by ASQC, which included companies from a wide variety of industries. Despite the differences in product types, a number of common themes were found in how companies decide to insource or outsource an item, as well as the processes used to identify and source design and development of new products.

This webinar will discuss some of the key findings of this research, and establish a framework for supplier-led innovation, including:

  • What roles can suppliers play in innovation?
  • What are the benefits and risks of supplier involvement in new product development?
  • What are the key challenges that exist in deploying this approach in organizations?
  • What are the characteristics of suppliers that identify them as capable of leading innovation and new product development?

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Is roadmapping poised to take off with economic recovery?


PLR_IreneWebinar_ScreenshotI’ve often heard that when college students “put a mortgage on their futures” with high tuition loans, all they’ve done is set themselves up to be short term financial thinkers for the rest of their lives.  One could argue that companies notoriously do the exact same thing with planning their own futures and product portfolios.

During a recent webinar, respected Technology Strategist, Dr. Irene Petrick of Penn State University, talked about seeing this first hand working with companies who are trying to chart their future directions and make sure they invest in the proper technologies and accurately follow market trends.  Companies seem so focused on making their short term revenue goals for shareholders, they are distracted from and procrastinating on critical strategic decisions regarding technology investment and game changing innovation.

Not only is she seeing strategic horizons shrink from 7-year planning down to 5-years, 3-years or less, she increasingly sees more and more management attention and resources being siphoned off to leverage short-term gains, often at the expense of securing future revenue.  The “make the month” mentality that shuttered numerous factories in the 1990s is cycling back again and moving up the ladder into R&D.  Once the economy is in a more comfortable position, it’s thought that planners would be relaxed enough to look further ahead, and hope that no real monsters have appeared meanwhile in these blind spots.

While it seems that only improving jobs reports and consumer spending can turn around the economy, Dr. Petrick does believe the macroeconomic trend of increasingly integrated product ecosystems as a major factor in turning this issue around.   Fueled by mobile devices and social media culture, more and more products are being composed of complicated partnerships between manufacturers, supply chains, retailers and more, often known as the “iTunes type ecosystem.”  This type of complicated coordination, says Petrick, inevitably leads companies down the path of strategic roadmapping.

To hear more from Dr. Petrick, her webinar, “Why is it so hard to get traction with product line roadmapping?” is available on-demand from Management Roundtable.  To have a link to the webinar sent to you via email, click here.

Product Line Roadmapping – What’s Your Take?


PLR_Logo_500COur research shows that interest in roadmapping as a visual and strategic tool for product development is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, but that one of the biggest issues is a lack of common understanding and definition of just what it’s composed of and encompasses.

Management Roundtable and the Adept Group are currently working on creating a definitive model around the term “Product Line Roadmapping” as a way to reflect the cross-functional coordination that is required for aligning the necessary resources, departments and leadership to create profitable, platform-based product lines.

You’re invited to help shape this discussion and the direction of the research, networking and educational material that will be produced starting this year.  Here are 3 very simple ways for you to get involved and be a part of the growing community:

  • 5-Minute Survey – Please consider taking 5 short minutes out of your day to answer a few questions that will help us understand your perspective on Product Line Roadmapping and how we should focus an upcoming conference.
  • Linked-In Group – Join our community of PLR professionals on Linked In where resources are shared and common questions answered by peers and experts.
  • On-Demand Webinars with Thought Leaders – Our monthly webinar series features recognized experts and practitioners talking about their experiences implementing roadmapping at companies across many industries.

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