Six Myths of Product Development This topic details 6 common misconceptions of most product development managers: 1. High utilization of resources will improve performance. 2. Processing work in large batches improves the economics of the development process. 3. Our development plan is great; we just need to stick to it. 4. The sooner the project is started, the sooner it will be finished. 5. The more features we put into a product, the more customers will like it. 6.
We will be more successful if we get it right the first time. The above belief may sound superior to the business as it promotes lean operations for fallacies 1, 2 and 6, business focus and time-bound action plans for item 3 and 4 and being a customer centric for misconception number 5. Unfortunately, all of these were exposed by Stefan Thomke and Donald Reinertsen as disadvantages rather than gains. Based on the article, it was observed that companies treat product development similar to manufacturing.
Instituting lean operations during product development activities might be thought at hand by the managers to ensure that investment cost will be kept within budget. For the companies at regular operations, whether services or manufacturing, this indeed create positive impact to the shareholders’ value. Just like in our company, Accenture, high utilization of resources and doing right the first time attitude are strictly observed. But the current process flow in our company is that tasks are repetitive, activities are reasonably predictable, and the items being created can be in only one place at a time.
This is not the case for product development as it requires constant changes, the result is unpredictable, tasks are unique and work-in-process inventory are predominantly invisible mainly because it consist of mostly information design documentation, test procedures and results, and instructions for building prototypes among others. Another thing is, flexibility is inevitable as in entails a set of complex activities that needs flawless coordination and attention to the smallest details. Thorough preparation is also imperative.
Hurrying up the project even if the resources are not readily available will just contribute additional costs and schedule overruns will be exponentially proportional to a project’s duration. Lastly, as Leonardo da Vinci once said, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ” The more features we put into a product, the more customers will like it is a customer centric initiative but not always right and applicable. This has been proven by several successful companies such as Walt Disney and Apple. The IPad for example has very simple external features and yet it’s powerful and very successful. With a 9. -inch screen and four buttons representing on/off, silent/screenlock, volume up/down and home button, who would imagine that this gadget which is not existing 5 years ago would sell millions around the world and has become a necessity for the always on-the-go individuals. Its simplicity makes the user enjoy the experience without complication. To sum it up, a firm competes against its rivals in many ways, but ultimately, it is the uniqueness of the result of product development that wins the market share. Such uniqueness can be a cutting edge technology, an unprecedented business strategy, an unshared business resource and so on.
Unfortunately, none of this uniqueness is sustainable forever and it is inevitable that the glare of the uniqueness faints over time. Hence, it is imperative to manage innovation and new product development in a systematic manner so that a competitive advantage can be refreshed and sustained with new products/process replacing obsolete ones. The practical guidelines given by the author to overcome common fallacies are very useful to the managers. It can be used as guide to differentiate the approach between product developments to manufacturing operations and will prevent them to the risks and dangers of those erroneous beliefs.