How to Create and Launch Superior Products


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Summary of Robert G. Cooper's book, "Product Leadership: Creating and Launching Superior New Products". A terrific guide to developing new product strategies, and what separates the winners in product innovation from the wanna-bies.

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How to Create and Launch Superior Products

  1. 1. Product LeadershipCreating and Launching Superior New ProductsSummarized from book of the same name<br />1<br />
  2. 2. “Product Leadership: Creating and Launching Superior New Products”<br />By Robert G. Cooper<br />ISBN: 0738201561<br /><br />2<br />The Book<br />
  3. 3. 3<br />Three Cornerstones of Performance<br /><ul><li>Emphasis on up-front pre-development homework
  4. 4. Building in VOC throughout
  5. 5. Sharp, early product definition
  6. 6. Tough Go/Kill decisions at every stage where projects really do get killed
  7. 7. Highlights quality of execution</li></ul>High Quality New Product Process<br />Business’s New Product Performance<br />New Product Strategy<br />Resource Commitment<br /><ul><li>Clear goals and objectives
  8. 8. Clearly defined arenas (i.e., areas of strategic focus)
  9. 9. Specified resources are allocated against each arena
  10. 10. Strategy to attack & win each arena defined
  11. 11. Strategy has long-term thrust and focus
  12. 12. Role of product in achieving business’s goals and product strategy clearly communicated
  13. 13. Having the right resources
  14. 14. Having sufficient resources
  15. 15. Deploying resources wisely – to the right strategic arenas and projects</li></li></ul><li>Best performers have senior managements that:<br />Are strongly committed to new products and product development<br />Embrace a long-term commitment to product development, beyond a 1-year horizon<br />Ensure development portfolio contains a certain proportion of long-term and platform projects (not just quick, one-year hits)<br />Develop a vision, objectives and strategy for new product efforts driven by (and linked to) the business’s corporate objectives and strategy<br />Install a systematic, high-quality new product process in the organization, and practice discipline, following the principles of the process<br />Commit the necessary resources to achieve the firm’s new product goals<br />Are closely involved in the project Go/Kill and new product spending decisions<br />Have a central role in the new product project review process and in resource allocation decisions<br />Foster innovation in the organization<br />Support, reward and recognize new product efforts<br />Empower project teams<br />Support committed champions: act as godfathers, sponsors or executive champions for major new product projects<br />4<br />Role of Senior Management<br />
  16. 16. 6 critical success factors:<br />Management emphasizes doing the upfront homework in the process before projects move into the development phase<br />Product process emphasizes a strong market orientation and builds in the voice of the customer throughout<br />Sharp, early product definition before development work begins<br />Tough Go/Kill decision points in the process where killed projects stay killed<br />Focus on quality of execution throughout process<br />Process is complete & thorough – no hasty corner-cutting! But also flexible as dictated by nature and risk of project<br />5<br />Cornerstone #1: High Quality Product Process<br />
  17. 17. Senior management has made the necessary resource commitment, and kept it<br />Have a superior, differentiated product that delivers unique benefits and better value to customers<br />Right organizational structure, design and climate<br />Leverage core competencies – synergy with the base business and its strengths are vital to success; “step-out” projects tend to fail more often<br />Market attractiveness is a key criterion for project selection and prioritization<br />Market need, growth & size<br />Competitive situation<br />Speed is everything! But not at the expense of quality of execution!<br />6<br />6 Additional Critical Success Factors<br />
  18. 18. Includes:<br />Goals for the business’s total product development efforts<br />The role of product development: how new products tie into the business’s overall goals<br />Arenas of strategic focus, including priorities<br />The business defines the types of markets, applications, technologies, services and products on which the business’s new products will focus<br />Can be defined in terms of dimensions:<br />Markets or market segments, and/or<br />Product types/lines/categories, and/or<br />Technologies and technology platforms<br />Spending splits across these arenas (R&D funds, possibly marketing & capital funds for developments)<br />How to attack each arena<br />7<br />Cornerstone #2: New Product Strategy<br />
  19. 19. 4 main ingredients:<br />There are goals/objectives for the business’s total new product efforts – e.g., what sales, profits, and the like new products will contribute to the business goal<br />The role of new products in achieving the business’s goals is clearly communicated to all<br />There are clearly defined arenas—specific areas of strategic focus (products, markets, technologies, etc.)—to give direction to the business’s total new product effort<br />The new product effort has a long-term thrust and focus, including some long-term projects (as opposed to just short-term, incremental projects)<br />8<br />Cornerstone #2: New Product Strategy<br />
  20. 20. Three main facets top performing businesses have in common:<br />Resource commitment are aligned with the business’s new product objectives, strategy, and process<br />Lack of resources leads to poor quality of execution – not enough people or time leads to corner-cutting<br />Well-intentioned “strategic planning exercises” not backed with needed resources set up projects for failure<br />R&D budgets are adequate<br />R&D as a % of sales is by far the strongest determinant of the impact of the product development effort<br />The necessary people are in place, and have their time freed up for new products<br />9<br />Cornerstone #3: Resource Commitment<br />
  21. 21. Success versus failure rates at launch<br />Attrition rates: what % of projects continue at each stage/gate in the process?<br />Proportion of resources devoted to winners vs. losers vs. killed projects<br />10<br />Keep Score!<br />
  22. 22. Purpose: to answer 3 questions<br />Quality of Execution: have the steps in the previous stage been executed in a quality fashion?<br />Business Rationale: does the project (continue to) look like an attractive one from an economic and business standpoint?<br />Action Plan: are the proposed action plan and the resources requested reasonable and sound?<br />Structure:<br />Gates must define visible deliverables in advance<br />Clearly understood criteria to make Go/Kill decisions<br />Include financial and qualitative criteria<br />Broken down into must-meet vs. should-meet characteristics<br />Clearly articulated outputs<br />A decision: Go/Kill/Hold/Recycle<br />A path forward = an approved project plan + a date & list of required deliverables for the next gate<br />11<br />How a Gate Should Work<br />
  23. 23. 6 Responsibilities<br />Making timely, firm and consistent Go/Kill decisions<br />Prioritizing projects effectively<br />Establishing visible deliverables for successive gate meetings<br />Committing and ensuring availability of necessary resources<br />Mentoring and enabling project teams<br />Setting high standards for quality of execution of project tasks<br />5 Roles<br />The Bankers: to make Go/Kill and prioritization decisions and to provide the needed resources for the project<br />The Enforcers: to ensure the new product process works—to instill discipline<br />The Quality Assurers: to ensure projects are unfolding as they should, in a quality fashion—DIRTFooT (do it right the first time)<br />The Mentors: to help project teams chart their path forward, to provide advice and share their wisdom<br />The Godfathers: to help project teams get things done—removing red tape and other obstacles to the timely completion of the project<br />12<br />Gatekeeper Roles and Responsibilities<br />
  24. 24. Miss most meetings. When you do come, start reading the materials (deliverables) as the meeting starts.<br />Don’t give the project team a chance to make their presentation. Attack with tough questions as soon as they put up their first slide/overhead.<br />Always ask for information that has not been specifically requested—that way you keep the project team off balance.<br />Attack the project team with vicious, rude questioning. Make these junior people really live in fear of the gatekeepers.<br />Ignore the stated criteria at the gates. Make the decision from the gut. And ignore the facts—use your own opinion instead.<br />Dwell only on the financial projections. Spend at least 3/4ths of the meeting arguing the numbers. The rest of the information doesn’t matter.<br />Your role is that of a judge. Never offer any help or advice.<br />If in doubt, don’t make a decision. Keep the team waiting around for several weeks. It shows who’s boss.<br />Don’t prioritize projects. Just keep adding projects to the active list. There’s lots of slack in the organization that needs cutting out.<br />Demand that the project team reduce their timelines and resources requested. And committed resources can be rescinded at any time.<br />13<br />10 Ways To Ruin Gate Meetings<br />