Separating the best from the rest

From: Yakov Horenstein (
Date: Fri May 09 1997 - 01:28:16 EEST

>(MANAGEMENT-ROUNDTABLE) Product development in the 1990s: five-year
> study contradicts conventional wisdom about success

> WALTHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 7, 1997--
> The answer isn't procedural, technological or operational
> -- it's cultural
> An ongoing study of product development conducted by The
> Management Roundtable (Waltham, MA), has identified a clear pattern
> of behavior that challenges the traditional beliefs about the
> practices that separate the best from the rest. Based on five
> year's worth of data from annual surveys, this study includes over
> a hundred companies from the following industries:
> aerospace/defense, automotive, electromechanical systems and
> medical devices. Successful groups were identified as those
> achieving strong market share and market share growth.
> While many firms invest dollars and focus efforts on the
> measurement and control of development processes, this study points
> to the more intangible aspects of corporate culture
> -- communication and integration -- as the true common denominator
> of market leaders. Some of the key characteristics of successful
> product developers identified in this study include:
> -- Involving non-engineering functions early in the product
> development process; -- Allowing support functions to
> significantly influence R&D decision-making; -- Co-location of
> product development personnel; -- Providing sufficient authority
> and empowerment to project and team leaders; and -- Using e-mail,
> intranets and other tools to communicate across functions and
> business units
> The data does not support the idea that measurement and control
> of processes, in themselves, generate product development success.
> While such methods may have incremental value, this study indicates
> that less measurable factors in the process such as "knowledge of
> the customer" and having "a feel for changes in the marketplace"
> have a more significant impact.
> Study Highlights
> What distinguishes high share from low share companies is the
> way high share companies integrate the various functions involved
> in product development and creating environments that foster
> communication and collaboration. In analysis of the behavior of
> successful developers, the following themes emerged:
> Relationship to the market is more important than individual
> process control or tools and technology -- Rather than fixating on
> individual processes, winners rely more on their feel for changes
> in the market and their superior knowledge of the customer.
> -- Tools and technologies that promise greater control over the
> product development process, such as QFD, Design Reviews, or
> computer driven Rapid Prototyping, while valuable, don't have any
> observable relationship to success.
> Communication and integration of the organization are more
> important than $$$ -- Successful developers don't spend more money
> on R&D than the competition -- they find better ways of doing
> things rather than throwing money at a problem; -- they allow non-
> engineering functions to influence R&D; -- and they use intranets
> and e-mail to expedite information exchange across functions and
> business areas.
> Co-located, empowered teams come out on top -- Winners co-
> locate product development personnel and give sufficient authority
> to the project leaders; and -- they use Concurrent Engineering to
> involve non-engineering functions in the product development
> process from the earliest stages of the project.
> A comprehensive white-paper discussing the detailed conclusions
> of the study is available free of charge, and can be requested by
> calling Alex Cooper, vice president of Management Roundtable at
> 617/891-8080, ext. 12, or downloaded off the internet at
> . An interactive CD-ROM providing
> complete data and analysis of the study is also planned for release
> in the summer of 1997. -0-

Yakov Horenstein, Marketing
Promau Engineering srl
155, Strada per Novara
28062 Cameri (NO), ITALY
Tel: +39 (0)321 510390 [Direct: +39 (0)2 653512]
Fax: +39 (0)321 616068 [Direct: +39 (0)2 2900 6208]
E-mail: [Direct:]

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