I was looking through my files recently for ideas for an article or blog post. I found an old article on intellectual discipline in product development written by Robert J. Thomas in National Underwriter in January of 1996.
His point is just as relevant today. He said, “To be on the leading edge in competitive markets, an organization must view new product development as an intellectual discipline that supports a culture of innovation and renewal rather than a project-by-project endeavor.”
Thomas espoused four principles to ensure a successful product development process. He felt that “How one thinks defines how one behaves about new product development.”
1. New Product Development Should Be Strategic
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis should drive the analysis of where company strategy should go. New Products should be developed to support the articulated strategy resulting from the SWOT exercise.
2. New Product Development Should Be Flexible
Tough economic times like the Great Recession that started in 2007 tend to starve product development of its resources. Companies need to be flexible in adapting product development to the changing or evolving strategy. For example, development of luxury products should be downplayed in favor of more mainline or necessary products during tough economic times.
3. New Product Development Should Be Interactive
Internal Stakeholders: needs and even who the stakeholders are change. Interactive relationships with these stakeholders will keep all parties informed and rowing inn the same direction.
External Stakeholders: like customers should be an ongoing part of the process. Research with customers should have guided the beginning of the process. Keep them in the process to ensure a deliverable that meets their needs.
4. New Product Development Should Be Ongoing
Products must morph as needs change and evolve. Applying learning from past and current iterations of a product allows us to project how future products should work.
Product Development is important to the whole organization. It is an intellectual discipline that innovates and renovates products and services that are the lifeblood of companies.
That is my take on it. How about you? Please comment below.
- Is product development considered an intellectual discipline at your firm?
- Is product development strategic or tactical in your planning?
- When the environment changes, is your product development opportunistic?