If you’re developing a new product, you already know the purpose of observing best practices is to create the conditions necessary for achieving market success. But because research-backed approaches to NPD can sometimes seem counter-intuitive, leaders often end up implementing “best practices” that turn out to be imposters. In this piece, we’ll call out the culprits and provide some touchpoints for helping companies course correct.
Ten New Product Development Best Practice Imposters
1. Thinking Too Tactically
This is a case of missing the forest for the trees. When NPD is seen in linear terms, it can be impossible to successfully navigate the complex territory of the broader process.
Course correction: Factor NPD into your long-term strategy, aligning it with your company’s overarching mission. Survey and map the broader NPD ecosystem, define organizational and market opportunity spaces, and understand NPD in context of your position in the corporate lifecycle.
2. Siloing your New Product Development Project
Even though silo has long been a four-letter word in the management literature, many companies still behave as though NPD is primarily the concern of the C-suite and upper management.
Course correction: Make NPD part of your cultural DNA. Establish cross-company NPD processes to break down silos and create project visibility and alignment across all departments at every level of your organization.
3. Leaving the Customer Out
While businesses typically know their customers better than anyone, this doesn’t mean they know nearly as much as they could, or should. And even if they’ve done their market research and gathered extensive customer data, this is only the beginning.
Course correction: Include customers throughout the NPD process. Customers belong at the beginning, middle, and end of NPD. Not only is their active participation essential for early-stage focus groups and other forms of customer research, it’s also critical later in the process for refining use case, testing prototypes, optimizing UX, and analyzing post-launch outcomes.
4. Sticking Too Rigidly to the Plan
The tree that cannot bend, breaks. While a New Product Development project can never successfully proceed without a carefully documented plan, leaders may become too attached to it, even when circumstances change.
Course correction: Aim for flexibility within a framework to retain the agility you’ll need to successfully adapt to unforeseen obstacles, market shifts, and fluctuations in demand. Build alternatives, deliberate tradeoffs, and contingencies into your plan.
5. Breaking Critical Links in the Product Development Chain
In the quest for cost savings, many companies parse ownership of design, engineering, and manufacturing between multiple partners. This often results in a piecemeal approach that is often fraught with miscommunications, delays, and sunk costs.
Course correction: Keep the links between design, engineering, and manufacturing intact by working with a one-source DFM partner. DFM (Design For Manufacture) will ensure a streamlined, seamless process that drives cost savings by optimizing design for scalable manufacture. At Pivot International, our one-source business model, in-house DFM talent, NPD expertise across fourteen industries, and 320,000 square feet of offshore and domestic manufacturing space ensure the integrity of the longer NPD chain.
6. Underestimating Risk
Even with supply chain disruption and other hazards looming larger than ever, many companies underestimate risk by lacking proper models for understanding and managing it.
Course correction: Reduce threat by identifying common misconceptions about risk. Adopt more sophisticated models for managing it and engage a partner with a track record of helping clients successfully combat disruption. At Pivot, our diversified global sourcing network and expertise in creating alternative engineering solutions are just two of the strategies we employ for helping our partners manage risk.
7. Limiting the Ability to Learn in Real-time
When key stakeholders undertake NPD without the clear intent to actively learn in real-time, they’re less likely to glean and apply key insights and recognize emerging problems or opportunities.
Course correction: Conduct after-action reviews for every phase and significant sub-phase of your New Product Development project. This will allow you to “learn while doing” and better predict potential complications, identify opportunities, improve processes, and innovate as you go.
8. Defining Project Criteria Too Broadly
When project criteria are fuzzy it’s like aiming for a bull’s eye while wearing a blindfold. You may hit the target, but the chances are slim-to-none you’ll hit the center.
Course correction: Aim for a high-resolution image of your project criteria. Establish crystal clear performance metrics and gatekeeping measures. The more tightly you define and differentiate your success criteria, the more likely you’ll be to make your mark.
9. Thinking Too Late in the Process About Product Launch
Because product launch lies in the late stages of the NPD process, it’s easy to assume that launch planning can be reserved for this stage as well.
Course correction: One thing that all successful strategies have in common is that it begins with the end in mind, identifying a destination to which this strategy is intended to lead. This means you’ll need to think about launch early in the NPD process, as well as pre-launch and post-launch activities.
10. Failing to Bring Your Project Full Circle
It’s tempting to think that since you’ve successfully launched that your job is done. But in some ways, it’s just getting started.
Course correction: Conduct a retrospective. While after-action reviews are about learning while doing, retrospectives are about learning after doing. Gather all relevant stakeholders together to undertake a holistic analysis of the project to profitably inform your path forward.
When these ten “best practices” are unmasked as imposters, you’ll be far less likely to fall prey to blindspots that can jeopardize your NPD.
If you’re gearing up to bring a new product to market, we’re the partner you’ve been looking for! Our nearly fifty years of trusted experience, proven track record of helping companies scale, and portfolio of internationally award-winning products speaks for itself. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you make your product vision a successful reality, contact us today!
We look forward to working with you!