New Product Development Strategy: Aligning Process with Context

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FEATURE ARTICLE

Do You Need a New Product-Development Strategy?
Aligning Process With Context
There is no one-size-fits-all product-development process; designing new products for different business contexts requires different new-product development processes. Alan MacCormack, William Crandall, Paul Henderson, and Peter Toft

OVERVIEW: Many firms rely on a single new-product development process for all projects. But designing new products for different business contexts requires that a firm deploy different new-product development processes. Products designed for stable and mature end-user markets require a process optimized for control and efficiency. In contrast, first-of-a-kind "breakthrough" products require a more emergent process that aims to discover whether there is any market to be served in the first place. Applying a uniform "best-practice" process to all development efforts ignores the major differences between these projects and may result in missed opportunities. This article describes a framework to address this problem, allowing a firm to better align the design of its development processes to the specific aims of individual projects. We illustrate this framework with examples from Hewlett-Packard, a large, diversified electronics firm that has successfully piloted this new approach across multiple business units, KEYWORDS: Product development. Process design, Stage-Gate® processes, Agile development processes

Over the past decade, firms have invested millions of dollars to define and standardize the way they bring new products and services to market. Despite these investments, however, studies of new product success rates have shown little or no improvement (Griffin 1997; Adams and Boike 2004), Indeed, recent data suggest that firms

struggle more than ever to develop and launch new products on time with acceptable features, cost, and quality (Christensen 1997), And remarkably, some of these firms blame the very processes designed to help. So what went wrong? Often, firms fail to align product-development strategy to business needs.

Alan MacCortnack is the MBA Class of 1949 Adjunct Professor of Business Paul Henderson is managing director of Clarify LLCs. Paul spent 20 years Administration at Harvard Business School, His research examines the manageat Hewlett-Packard in a variety of management roles in product development of innovation and product development in high-technology industries, ment and strategy. He has deep expertise in intellectual property, new with a particular focus on software, Alan's research has been published in a vabusiness creation, business model innovation, and competitive positionriety of leading journals, including Management Science, Research Policy, and Paul was named one ofthe world's top IP strategists by Intellectual ing. Harvard Business Review. In addition, he has written over 50 cases and notes Asset Management magazine in 2011. Paul is also a teacher of special that explore how organizations like Intel, Microsoft, and NASA manage product programs at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Busiand service innovation. Alan holds a DBA from Harvard University, an MSc from ness, teaching leadership and strategy classes to MBA students. Paul MIT, and a BSc from the University of Bath, amaccormack@hbs.edu holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, an MBA from the Columbia Graduate School of Business, and a degree in chemiBill Crandall is principal of Clarify LLC, a business advisory firm that cal engineering from the University of Washington, paul.henderson® works with leaders in transition in situations that need quick but compreclarifyllccom hensive strategy development tied to measurable execution plans. At Hewlett-Packard, Bill led HP Global Engineering Services, a $35 million, Peter Toft is a program manager in Hewlett-Packard's Cloud Services busi200-person professional services business operating in 20 countries that...
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