Last week, Mary Drotar and Kathy Morrissey of Strategy2Market Inc. introduced the PDMA Chicago Chapter to Exploratory PD (ExPD), the new approach to product development covered in our presentation at the PDMA annual conference in November 2015. ExPD is unlike traditional phased and gated processes, which prescribe standard activities used for all projects. ExPD adapts project activities based on the needs and learnings of the project, resulting in less risk and faster time to market. More detail is available in a whitepaper. In this blog post, Mary Drotar and Kathy Morrissey recap some of the interesting questions and observations raised by the audience.
ExPD requires a culture change; people don’t like change and are comfortable with phased and gated processes. How do you make a successful transition to ExPD?
ExPD does require a different mindset. It emphasizes understanding and requires managing what can potentially derail a project. This mindset allows teams to reduce risk and uncertainty, which increases the probability of success, and it allows for faster killing of inappropriate projects.
The most successful approach we’ve occurs when senior management embraces and models transformation and supports it through appropriate training, tools and processes. One way to demonstrate the effectiveness of ExPD is to run a pilot program.
Are you implying that strategy needs to be adaptable like ExPD? If so, how do you make strategy adaptable?
The first segment of ExPD is the strategic framework. It helps companies organize their strategies, make sure they’ve thought through the important elements and integrated these strategies into the idea pipeline, portfolio management system and projects in the product development process. These three components comprise the primary method for product development strategy implementation. To read more about this, take a look at the whitepaper.
Strategies are built on certain assumptions about the future, such as how markets evolve, how technologies are adopted and how competitors make their moves. These assumptions should be regularly monitored and evaluated so the company can detect when adaptation may be necessary. In addition to formally monitoring processes, work done by product development teams to resolve risk on individual projects provides valuable information about strategy assumptions.
Adapting strategy takes the form of
Modifying product/technology roadmaps
Redirecting the kinds of ideas targeted by the idea pipeline
Adjusting the criteria used to prioritize the portfolio and allocate resources
Reassessing projects already in development to determine whether scope changes are warranted
Does this approach work well in a risk-averse organization?
If anything, we think this approach works best in a risk-averse organization since the premise of our approach is risk reduction. We’ve worked with companies that are integrating this approach early in the process prior to going into development. They are basically reducing risks (e.g., commercial, technical, regulatory etc.) prior to going into the big spend phase of development. This approach also helps the project team determine if the project should be killed early, and the output is increased speed.
More about the Authors:
Mary Drotar and Kathy Morrissey are partners and co-founders of Strategy 2 Market, Inc., a 14-year old product development consulting firm helping companies drive revenue from new products, simplify their product development systems and get the most value out of their resources. Mary and Kathy are both graduates of the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business.