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Michael Ryan

February 9, 2011 in Communication, NPD, PLM

How can you engineer success?

Human beings have evolved over millions of years through a process of natural selection.  It’s a pretty cruel process when you think about it; those fortunate to have been born with a particular genetic makeup survive while others don’t.

Evolution Monkey

Only kidding!  I’m not saying we’re the next evolutionary step.  I just think the monkey gets a bad deal sometimes. Now think about your product development process, are you trying to following the process of evolution or do you need something more? Evolution implies that you are constantly launching products that may or may not fail, when in fact what you need to do is to breed for success. Your process needs to help you to define and measure success as you develop your products.  But how can you do that?  

Hold a kick off meeting to define your project
In simple terms, get everybody together to define what success is by asking:
  • Do we know what we are doing this for?
  • Is what we are doing it for measurable?
  • What needs to happen for it to be success (or what would we stop the project for if it wasn’t happening)?
  • Which individuals are going to do deliver what and by when?
Document the answers to the above
Make sure that everybody leaves the meeting understanding the project and their actions. Here are some suggestions how:
  • Project definition document
  • Time plan
  • List of actions
Get agreement from the top that what you are intending to do meets their requirements.  

Measure your development against the output
If you are using a stage and gate process, make sure that each stage review aligns to what you outlined originally.  Your project might change but it needs to align to what you set out to achieve. Sometimes, everybody needs a reminder of what they set out to do.  

Measure risks and issues against your outline
If you are not going to deliver one of those critical areas of success, you need to take action; even if it is stopping everything. It can be hard to be objective about something that you’re passionate about.  You might need a reminder of why you started.  

Review the final product against the initial definition
Remember, you’re only trying to play God.  You still need to learn.

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