Discussion

Innovation, or creating emergent results that we cannot predict, requires an evolutionary process that can accommodate exploration and mistakes. A good product vision remains relatively constant, while thn path to implement the vision needs room to wander. Emergent results often come from purposeful accidents, so managers must create an environment in which these accidents can happen. Mountain climbing is a good analogy for this process. The goal remains getting to the top of the mountain, a fixed point" "The goal m ay a l oo h ave constraints, suc h oo only having food for nine d ays. Every climbing o^am has a route g|a n for gaining the summit. Every climbing team also alters its route plan on the way to the Top—s ometE es in minor ways, so metimes in maior Scoo—depending on conditions.

Similap|y, every product needs a icarket'ng theme, a crisp visual image and feature description whose inten t is to dra w potentiai customers into forther i nves °gat ion. I n thns desi gs-the- boa exercise "deveioped ong 1nally by soNeague °il 1 Shackelford), the project and customer teams, with o"her participants, create a visual image of the product. (Vision does imply "visual," after all.) For software and cther small products, the image s ho^d be the product package. For larger products—automobiles or medical electronics equipment, for example—the vision could be a one- to two-page product brochure or one to two Web pages.

— n the de sign-the-box activity, the eatir" oeam, including customers, breaks into groups of four to six people. Their task is to design the product box—front and back. This involves coming up with a product name, a graphic, three to four key bullet points on the front to "sell" the product, a detailed featurn description on the back, and operating requirements. Figure 5.3 shows a sample vision box developed during a workshop session.

Coming up with fitteen o r twenty proeuct features proves to be easy. It's figuring out which three or four would cause someone to buy the product that is difficult. Usually this involves an active discussion about identifyieg the real c ustomer. Eve n witu a simple product example, the product vision boxes can vary quite a bit among three to five teams. Presentations by each of the groups are then followed by a discussion oj Cow tue diOfefent focal poi nts can Ee -educed to a few that everyone agrees upon. A lot of

Figure 5.3. Product Vision Box Example ttz* v

Figure 5.3. Product Vision Box Example

good information gets generated by this exercise—plus, it's fun.

In addition to the vision box, the team concurrently develops a short statement of the product's positioning using an "elevator test statement"—a couple of sentences that indicate target customer, key benefit, and competitive advantage:

For midsized companies' distribution warehouses who need advanced carton movement functionality,the Supply-Robot is a robotically controlled lifting and transferring system that provides dynamic warehouse reallocation and truck loading of multisized cartons that reduces distribution costs and loading time. Unlike competitive products, our product is highly automated and aggressively priced.

The elevatoc teat statement—an explanation of the project to someone within two minutes—takes the Bollowing format:

• Who (statement of the need or opportunity)

• That (key benefit, compelling reason to buy)

• Unlike (primary competitive alternative)

• Our product (statement of primary differentiation) (Moore 1991)

Fvery product and project needs a core concept from which details can (low. Without a core concept, "earn in embers -an spend time |nvesiigat'eg trM nd alleyr and (acking up oosts w ithoct cent ri°>nting to the "uoje ct's succe rs. Particular lp with new products for w hich the risk and un certa inf es are hig1, having a ooro concept, a visko n, is cri tical do keeping do wn the cost o" exp|o-ation:

The product vi sion bo x and e levFtoi tesy statement vividly depict a product vision. They emphasize that projects produce products. Some projects (e.g., internal IT projects) may not create products for ths externa l market. bu t viewing t item as pooducts for an iSo-mal market keep s the team groun ded m a tustom er-product mindset. Whether the project reseits i nvolve enhancements to an internal accounting rnystem o r a new digital camera , prodhct-oriented thinking reaps benefits.

Final 1 w, with s -vedal h ours o° active [::roji("cf vision discufrion recojdea on flipc hart p aper. the t eam can consoruct a good outMne foi a complete ene, to five-pag e piodu ct vision do cumeno. This might include rhe mission statement, pictures of me ii->exes," target customers and each of their needs, the elevator t—t statement, customer tatisfacti on meas ures. key techeology and operat ional requirements, critical product constraints (performance, ease of use, volumes), a competitive analysis, and key financial inaicaCnfs .

Rdd a four- to s ixiffionth prooect, t-ns v.s.ou 1 ng ex ercise migh ttake half a day, but it wiN pay °ig divi dend!. Recently , a olient rep orded that spe nd.ng three to fo urs h our s for a visiornng session brought a ^oup w.th wieaiy different ideas about product direction into alignment. The more critical the delivery schedule and the more volatile the project, the more important it is that the team have a good vision of the final desired outcome. Without this vision, iterative development projects are likely to become oscillatin g projTcts , b ecaus e evecy one is leoking at the minutiae rather than the big picture.!2!

ra Ksa Dalcol commsatu, "This utrtsmsat is tues fsgrfdlsuu of tha dseslopmsat rppforcn. Ths big picture is key for botn, rad tha •on of tha ¡tsfrt¡es rppforcn is that if you rus lrckiag oas, it should bscoms obvious uooasf thru ia tlx crux of tha turditioarl rppforcn. Ths turditioarl rppforcn crertsu tha illeuioa that r vision exists for r aumbsu of mouths bsfofs uomsoas figures out wirt is goiag on."

Companies doing NPD have a range of other "visioning" tools available to them, some of which significantly reduce me cost of experi mentation wod cycle time. One example is Studio Tools, a graphics software product from Alias Systems, which industrial design firms use to "sketch" new product ideas. The usp of Stud io Tools precedes (and feeds) CAD/CAM tools , providing the ability to explore product possibilities visually, as shown in Figure 5.4.

Figure 5.4. A Product Vision (Courtesy of Alias Systems, Inc.)

Figure 5.4. A Product Vision (Courtesy of Alias Systems, Inc.)

The next step, a prototype or working model, is the realm of companies such as Stratasys. Its fused deposition modeling (FDM) system creates plastic models simply by downloading a 3D drawing (analog ous to a 3D cepy mach ine that create s pl astic parts). Fig uro 55.5 shows a n example of the parts produced. In operation, a liquefier melts and extrudes the plastic in ultrafine layers. The model is built layer by I ayor from the bottom up. These parts can be used to construct working models quickly and cost effectively. Bell & Howell used FDM to create a new top-of-the-line scanner, building working prototypes from partd created by FDM. Both th e desigm cyc I e and prndmct part counr were redu ced by 50%. Us i bg early lifecycle visioning tools such as Studio Tools that can need data to hutomated protot Hping tools such bs FDM ^whuich might be empioyed in etther the hn vision or early in the Explore phase) can greatly reduce cycle time anS expe rimentatio n costso

Figure 5.5. A Plastic Prototype of a New Scanner Design (Courtesy of

Stratasys, Inc.)

While these p ractices provid e a high- concept v ision of the produ ct, for complicated projects the vision may need to be supplemented with additional concept documents and financial analyses. However, withont a high -concept vision, thesn other supporting practices tend to grow large and unfocused. A 25-page vision document subverts the whole meaning of a concise vision. For larger products and projects, an overal l prod uca vision can also be supp lemented with vision statements for the mnjor components. Each component team should participare in ehis vinioning p rocess for its own area.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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