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.



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?


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.


Can ‘IP Density & Velocity’ expose Open Innovation opportunity areas?

In a recent webinar with Dr. Paul Germeraad of Intellectual Assets, Inc., Dr. Germeraad explained how close examination of intellectual property activity can provide valuable insight on where to focus and invest scarce open innovation resources.  Two particular metrics are mentioned that should be examined: IP Density and IP Velocity.

With IP density, one should investigate what type of the following three environments does your opportunity area reside in:

  • IP Jungle – An area where there is patent documentation in the 10s of thousands, which would require a significant investment in people and software to examine and sort through.
  • IP Forest – An area where there are a few hundred to a thousand pieces of documentation, showing a developing area where information analysis is manageable and opportunity is rich.
  • IP Desert – An area where there is patent documentation in the 10s.  Most likely this is an immature technology or market with a long developmental horizon in front of it.

The key to navigating this is to match your business goals, innovation capabilities and resources with the IP activity profile.  “Velocity” can also provide a a litmus test of the potential for successful Open Innovation, according to the following slide:IP_Slide8Regarding this slide, Dr. Germeraad commented during the webinar:

If the growth rate in patents…has been slow and steady, putting an open innovation team into that environment gives you a good chance for success..Likewise if it’s sporadic and going up and down, and people haven’t found a dominant design yet, that’s also a good area for open innovation…What’s tough of course is the center, where you’re maybe “a day late and a dollar short,” that’s a hard area to get into, when things are changing fast around you and it’s hard to communicate about what’s happening…there are too many blind sides coming in and anxiety that’s not conducive to productive open innovation.”

This webinar is available for on-demand viewing – click the link below to watch now:

IP Strategies in an Open Innovation Environment” with Dr. Paul Germeraad, Intellectual Assets, Inc.  This session was part of the CoDev2014 Webinar Series.

Dr. Germeraad will also be conducting a half-day workshop at the CoDev 2014 event on January 27, 2014 in Phoenix, AZ, “Leveraging IP databases to find, assess, and place a value upon, Open Innovation Opportunities”.


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.