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Competitive Edge: Disrupting the Disruptors Conference Session Descriptions
2018 PDMA Conference Full Schedule

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Competitive Edge: Disrupting the Disruptors Conference powered by PDMA


Understanding what people want, how they want it, and why they want it, and when they want it are the classic pillars of customer-centric design. This track delivers essential intelligence on the tools for gathering insights and how the best companies, big and small, not only identify opportunities but successfully execute on those ideas to drive growth.

High-performing teams and a positive organizational culture are crucial to effective and efficient growth. That means leaders are needed at every level of the organization. Whether co-located or remote, knowing what tools to employ in any team situation can make the difference between success and failure. Leaders in team building, corporate culture, and more deliver impactful and practical expertise.

Track description coming soon

Whether you're building or managing new, cutting-edge products or launching and managing more established ones, the digital transformation is upon us all. Technology is a key factor in bringing teams together, and driving efficiency in everything we do, and can make or break a product offering. Super-charge your learning with insights from today's product thought-leaders.

There are many diverse concepts, methodologies and perspectives in product innovation, development and management. Understanding where and when to prescribe them is rooted in a foundational understanding of the disciplines in these three areas. PDMA's exclusive Body of Knowledge contains those important mechanisms that you can apply to your everyday workplace challenges and is an essential part of your product toolbox to drive success.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

2018 JPIM Research Forum powered by PDMA

View full JPIM Research Forum details.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

8:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Registration Desk Open

8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

2018 JPIM Research Forum powered by PDMA

View full JPIM Research Forum details.

9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

New Product Development Professional (NPDP) Certification Workshop Powered by PDMA

You can be eligible to renew your NPDP credentials to full and active status when you:

  • Register for an All-Access Pass to the Competitive Edge Conference powered by PDMA, joining us in Chicago this November.
  • While at the conference, attend the 7.5-hr PDP Certification intense workshop on Sunday, Nov 4, 2018.

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

JPIM Research Forum and Competitive Edge Conference Bridge Session

Academia and Industry Together Again!
Presenters: Matt Kelly, Do Tank; Scott Grzesiak, Managing Director, Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. (IPM)

This session is for Research Forum registrants and All-Access Pass Holders

Opinions vary when you ask academics and professionals alike how well these two groups work together.  Collaborations can be mutually beneficial, if approached correctly, but understanding one another’s needs and aspirations is critical to success. PDMA want to build on its 40-year history of successfully bringing groups together for projects big and small.  This year’s professionally facilitated bridge session will organize academics and practitioners into small groups to answer the most vexing questions to creating successful collaborations. Using a skillful mixture of designing-thinking and project-management tools our facilitators will create connections between participants and affect responses that build consensus. If you enjoy the bridge session, stick around for the practical to take a deeper dive on what works and what doesn’t.

2:15 - 5:15 p.m.

Pre-Conference Session

Building Better Products - A Design Thinking and Project Management Mashup
Presenters: Matt Kelly, Do Tank; Scott Grzesiak, Managing Director, Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. (IPM)

In this powerful hands-on workshop you will learn new methods that will make you a better product developer and manager. You will learn tools and skills that combine the power of design thinking and project management. Design thinking — to understand your customers, create resonant value propositions, and build new business models; Project management — to foresee risks and get your team moving immediately to action. Using tools such as the empathy maps and value proposition designer, we will get inside the head of our audience (you!) to understand the pains, gains, and jobs to be done for a unique case study. You will play the role of both student (learning to apply design and project management tools), and consumer as we expore how to (re)design a opportunity-rich association for the next generation of  product leaders and innovators. It will be awesome, and we hope to see you there.  

5:30 - 7:30 p.m.


Hot off the press! Launch Party: Leveraging Constraints for Innovation – New Product Development Essentials from PDMA
Your personal invitation to this exclusive party where you will meet the authors of, and brilliant minds behind, PDMA's latest publication! Leveraging Constraints for Innovation includes 10 chapters from 21 of the industries' leading innovative minds covering topics from consumer psychology to virtual team communication constraints. Number 3 in a series, this latest installment from PDMA joins our library of dozens of books in multiple languages that capture the essence of product management, new product development, and innovation. Reserve your copy today. Save 20% off the cover price when you pre-order the book with your conference registration and pick-up at the launch party.  

The launch party will be held Sunday, November, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, in the Swissôtel's newly renovated 42nd-floor lounge. Relax in luxury, partake of our signature cocktail at the open bar, and mingle with academics, practitioners, authors, and members of the PDMA international leadership team. Act now to register for this event, space is limited.  

The launch party event is included in the ALL-ACCESS PASS. 

$39.00 - Add-on to all other passes.

Monday, November 5, 2018

7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Registration Desk Open


7:30 - 8:00 a.m.

Networking Breakfast


8:00 - 8:30 a.m.

Competitive Edge Conference Welcome & Introduction

Ernie Harris, PDMA Conference Chair; Allan Anderson, PDMA Chair


8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Keynote: Jim Craig

Jim Craig, PDMA Conference KeynoteMiracle-Man Jim Craig, goaltender for the US Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Team,  the 1980 “Miracle on Ice”, and President of Gold Medal Strategies, is the keynote speaker at the 2018 Competitive Edge Conference: Disrupting the Disrupters, powered by PDMA. Hear Jim’s inspiring story of how a group of amateur players, against all odds, pulled off the greatest upset, and triumphed over the Russian Red Army professional hockey team.  Learn more.


9:30 - 10:00 a.m.

VIP Backstage Pass with Jim Craig


9:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Refreshment Break


10:00 - 10:45 a.m.

Breakout Sessions

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Building a Culture by Design
Presenters: Jeff Disher, Founder and President, DISHER.; Kevin Pinner, Business Lead - Business Solutions | Manufacturing Tech, DISHER

As a leaders of a nationally-recognized workplace, Jeff Disher and Kevin Pinner are frequently asked, “Why and how does an organization create a great culture?” In this presentation, Jeff and Kevin discusses the research validating the link between a healthy culture and an organization’s bottom-line performance. They challenge the audience to assess their current state. Then they guide participants through practical ways to engage team members and improve culture by: developing your why (vision/mission), hiring to your why, practicing your why, and reinforcing your way (beliefs and behaviors.

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Customer Journey Analytics
Presenter: Laura M. Fay, VP, Product Management Research, TSIA

To be successful in a subscription business your product needs to deliver continuous value with a compelling user experience to ensure continued usage and customer renewal. But does product management and all the customer facing teams have full visibility to how the customer is using each product and your suite of offerings? This session introduces a compelling Customer Experience Analytics Framework essential for decision support for Product Managers, customer facing teams and the customer themselves.

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From Pitch Deck to PD: The Shared Challenges of Startups and Corporate Innovators
Presenter: John Eaton, Client Commercialization Strategist, Macomb-Oakland Incubator

In corporate NPD, metrics matter. In the start-up world, passion generally matters more than process. This contrast offers an excellent opportunity to mash-up the creative and chaotic nature of start-ups with traditional NPD to develop new tools and techniques that have benefit in both worlds. By introducing entrepreneurial design-thinking and story-telling approaches we show that design is not just a marketing or sales tool, and how design helps to understand and illustrate all aspects of a product’s value proposition for more effective NPD.


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Disrupt Inside the Box
Presenters: T. P. Ong, Director of NPD, Innovation & Research, Emerson Electric; and Claudio Fayad, VP of Technology, Emerson Electric

Innovation is critical for business growth. A recent survey by McKinsey & Company showed that 84% of executives agree innovation is critical for their growth strategy, while only 6% are satisfied with the outcome of their innovation performance. One main challenge is the lack of a flexible, yet structured, and enabling environment. This paper will discuss simple approaches that Emerson put in place to build successful disruptive innovations: enabling culture, integrated framework and well-defined processes.

10:45 - 11:00 a.m.

Networking Break

11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Executive Summit

11:00 a.m. - 11:45 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

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Is Your Organization Customer-Focused or Customer-Ruled? This Fine Line Can Turn Your Product Roadmap into a Custom Feature Factory Instead of a Strategic Plan
Presenter: JJ Rorie, Vice President & Subject Matter Expert, Sequent Learning Networks

Is your organization customer-focused or customer-ruled? Many organizations pride themselves on being customer-focused, which is typically a good thing. However, ask yourself if your product backlog and roadmap are full of one-off client requests and custom features because being “customer-focused” means never saying “no”. If so, you’re probably being ruled by your customers, which is much different than being focused on your customers. 

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Rubberneck While Sprinting – 6 Tips on Getting Quality Customer Feedback While Staying Agile
Presenter: Steve Hansen, President, Phase 5 US

Agile and agile-like development long ago jumped beyond the confines of the software industry. Industrial manufacturing, consumer products, home building, the financial industry – everyone is sprinting these days. How do you ensure, though, that your head-down sprints don’t run into a brick wall of misunderstood market needs? Based on in-depth research we conducted with insights leaders at some of the world’s most innovative companies, we’ll talk about the challenges they faced – and solved – and how you can bring best practices into your organization.

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Design Your Pricing as Part of Your Product
Presenter: Steven Forth, Partner, Ibbaka

Product managers need to lead pricing in early stage innovation, but this is not always recognized and product managers are generally not trained on pricing. By putting pricing in the context of service design, product managers can grasp the core concepts and take leadership. Participants will leave the session with an understanding of how to make strategic pricing decisions and what they need to do to test these decisions.


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Virtual Team Model (VTM)
Presenter: Teresa Jurgens - Kowal, President, Global NP Solutions

As presented in PDMA Essentials Volume 3, a Virtual Team Model (VTM) demonstrates five key elements and sixteen practices to drive success for virtual NPD teams. Virtual teams utilizing the VTM deliver new products to global markets with higher speed and fit to market. In this presentation you will learn how to build an effective virtual team, implement efficient communication tools, enhance meeting and team protocols, manage and transfer innovation knowledge, and develop unique leadership skills for virtual teams.

12:00 - 12:30 p.m.

Book Panel Presentation

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch Break and Book Signing

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

General Session: The Business of Behavioral Change
Stephen Wendel, Head of Behavioral Science, Morningstar Inc.

Stephen Wendel, PDMA Conference SpeakerDr. Wendel is a behavioral scientist who studies financial behavior and how digital products can help individuals manage their money more effectively.  He serves as Head of Behavioral Science at Morningstar, where he leads a team of behavioral scientists and practitioners to conduct original research on saving and investment behavior.  Stephen has authored two books on applied behavioral science, Designing for Behavior Change and Improving Employee Benefits, and founded the non-profit Action Design Network, educating the public on how to apply behavioral research to product development with monthly events in ten cities. He has two wonderful kids, who don’t care about behavioral science at all. 

2:45 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

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Tackling One of the Biggest Barriers to Innovation: The Organizational Pyramid Structure
Presenter: Marc Bolick, Managing Partner, DesignThinkers Group USA

This talk will introduce one of the most powerful barriers to innovation in organizations: the command and control structures that permeate all aspects of our society that were put in place during the Industrial Revolution. This is a call-to-action talk to make people aware of how important it is to address mindsets and culture, and to adjust the ways we organize work in order to produce better products and services for customers. Examples will be given for how leading firms are tackling this challenge, and how these approaches can help those in the product and service development communities to effect and lead change from any level.

Driving Hyper-Customer Focus icon

Building Superior Customer Value with 8-Step VoC — Experiences from 3M and Atlas Copco
Presenters: Mats Magnusson, Professor/Senior Partner, KTH Royal Institute of Technology/Value Model; Pam Werley; Johan Danielsson

A presentation consisting of two parts:

  1. An academic review of the state-of-the-art in the field of “Voice of the customer”
  2. Presentations by 3M and Atlas Copco about how they use VoC in new and innovative ways.

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What Comes First, Product Innovation or Business Model Innovation?
Presenter: Marc McLaughlin, CEO & Business Designer, DoTank

The power of business design blended with project management will transform how you develop and launch products. We will explore the tools, skills, and the mindset necessary to bring design and business rigor to your work. Key topics include: 1) understanding customer jobs to be done 2) creating business models that deliver value 3) anticipating internal and external risks to your nascent products 4) designing experiments to validate assumptions 5) planning toward action.


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If you want my body (of knowledge) and you think product management is sexy...come to this session.
Presenters: Ernie Harris, Principal, Interesting Blazer & Rod Stewart, Singer-Songwriter

Whether you're new to product management or been doing it for years, it can be overwhelming at times. What do you focus on? How can you do it all and still have time for your family or yourself? Ernie Harris (and no, sadly, Mr. Stewart could not join us) will share tips and tricks on how small and large companies alike can get more done with less. Ernie will share his experience developing, launching and retiring products for the past 20 years and how he kept all stakeholders happy and informed from executive leadership down to administrators. Some of the things Ernie will cover include: Roadmaps, Product vs Project, Scope Management, Reporting and more. Looking to have fun and learn along the way? This is the session for you!

3:30 - 3:45 p.m.

Networking Break

3:45 - 4:45 p.m.

Outstanding Corporate Innovator (OCI): Best Practices From an Industry Leader

4:45 - 5:00 p.m.

Outstanding Corporate Innovator (OCI): Indonesia Presentation

5:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Outstanding Corporate Innovator (OCI): Award Presentation

6:15 p.m.

Meet in the Lobby to walk to Reception

6:30 - 7:00 p.m.

Board the boat for Disruptors! Rock the boat! Reception

7:00 - 9:00 p.m.


Disruptors! Rock the boat! Don’t miss this amazing chance to celebrate the 31st Annual PDMA Outstanding Corporate Innovator (OCI) Awards during our 2-hour Chicago Odyssey River Cruise 7 – 9 p.m., Monday November 5. You cruise in opulent comfort and splendor in a brand new luxury vessel with an all-glass enclosure, spectacular 360 degree views of the Chicago River, city night-life, and Chicago’s awe-inspiring architecture. Network and engage in conversation with the current and past OCI Award winners. Learn how this prestigious award continues to push forward best practices in product innovation.  

Call to board is 6:30 p.m. and the dock is a short walk from the Swissôtel lobby. Your cruise package includes heavy appetizers and two drink tickets. You must register. Seating is limited to the first 150 people. Register now!

Disruptors! Rock the boat! event is included in the ALL-ACCESS CONFERENCE PASS

$39.00 add-on for all other pass holders.

Note: Boat will depart promptly at 7:00 p.m. and returns to the dock at 9:00 p.m.

More information on the Entertainment Cruises and the Odyssey Cruise Line.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

8:00 - 5:30 p.m.



8:00 - 8:30 a.m.

Networking Breakfast


8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

General Session: Is your client engagement program engaging?
Eyal Danon, President and Founder, Ignite Advisory Group

Eyal Danon, PDMA Conference SpeakerProduct managers and developers utilize different mediums for engaging with their customers to collect input to their product roadmaps. Popular programs include account reviews, customer surveys, phone interviews, user group meetings, social media, customer advisory boards and many more. But while some companies employ comprehensive programs to gather desires and suggestions from their clients, others claim to have customer engagement covered, but often with mixed results. This session will review the pros and cons of various customer engagement methods commonly used by product management professionals; which programs deliver the best results (the good), which ones tend to disappoint host companies (the bad), and which ones can backfire if not properly established, resourced and managed (the ugly).


9:45 - 10:00 a.m.

Networking Break


10:00 - 10:45 a.m.

Breakout Sessions

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The Dangers of Planning Projects
Presenter: Stewart M. Witt, Partner, Arvense Group

Increasing the performance of a development team is not easy. It is one thing for a leader to know what to do. Also important is knowing what not to do. Knowing the difference between the two will help get the necessary results.

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Build for One, Sell to Many: Product Development in the Digital Age
Presenter: Jennifer Travis Fout , Director of Product Management, Rippleshot

Many companies are faced with the demand of building a product for one client. Regardless of why, companies hesitate to build or build a “lite” version. I will provide a development framework and walk through steps to building a new product that will wow the client and can be sold to other clients. And I will share examples of how I did it at a B2B start-up and $2B company.

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Analytically Driven Product Profitability
Presenter: Carmine Izzi, Principal; Leader Product and R&D Strategy Practice, Deloitte Consulting

Meeting product margins continues to be challenging for many clients, yet the availability of data and analytical tools are readily available and up to the challenge of helping drive product margin enhancement.  The presentation will focus on a tool kit that analyzes multiple aspects of the product to help quantify, prioritize, and execute product cost reduction ideas.


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Innovative Approaches to Ideation, Teaming, and Rapid NPD: Perspectives from a Lean Design Firm
Presenter: Phillip Anthony, President, Design Integrity, Inc.

This session will interweave methodologies outlined in the PDMA Body of Knowledge with proven ideation methods and team management techniques that can help creative teams to innovate and launch successful new products rapidly. The methods to be presented were developed and refined over the last two decades at a small-to-midsized design firm, which by nature must be lean and efficient at developing innovative ideas and driving successful new products to market.

11:00 - 11:45 a.m.

Breakout Sessions

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Agile Development for Distributed Organizations
Presenter: Kevin Thompson, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, cPrime, Inc.

Proponents of Scrum and other Agile product-development processes emphasize the importance of co-location of people who must work together. However, real-world constraints often require that we work with people who are far away. This presentation describes how an organization that uses Scrum can adapt to increasing levels of geographic distribution, while still remaining effective.

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Finding Time to be Innovative when Every Competitor is Targeting You
Presenter: Colleen Knuff, Senior Director, Product Management, Wolters Kluwer

Having a market leading product for almost 20 years ensures that the only provider your competitors are gunning for is you. On the other hand, you must be better than all of them to stay in the lead. For almost 20 years, TeamMate, an internal audit management solution, has been the lead horse. As with any software though, 20 years is a lifetime, and we were faced with how to re-invent ourselves and maintain our market share. The solution: be absolutely customer and market focused. We needed to rethink, reimagine and redesign the key principles of why we achieved our market dominance and what it would take to stay there.

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This is Not a Test: New Product Development in a Mature Organizations
Presenter: Karthik Gunasekaran and Jonna Higgins-Freese, Senior Director, Program Directors, Product Owners, ACT, Inc.

Driving innovation and new product development in an established company can be a challenge. Learn how ACT has organized its innovation and NPD efforts over the past 8 years, what we've learned, what has worked — and give us your thoughts on our remaining challenges. There will be plenty of time for discussion with colleagues and brainstorming around the new product development challenges you face in your mature organization.


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Big Picture Thinking
Presenter: Robin Adams, Dr., Purdue University

Driving breakthrough mindsets is a high business priority for realizing innovations that redefine consumer experiences, reimagine commercialization pathways, and revolutionize business success and growth. We present research-based big picture thinking strategies that met these needs and informed an extensive talent development program: Connecting the dots to non-obvious possibilities, formulating problems for holistic benefit, organizational literacy to enable change, painting the big picture to help others see the potential for impact, and open and adaptive learner.

12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch Break

1:15 - 2:00 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

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Innovation Is For Quitters
Presenter: David Phillips, Innovation Provocateur, Faster Glass

When developing new products and services, we are susceptible to a number of forces that can blind us to red flags and drive us to continue pursuing dead-end concepts. Although tenacity is a necessary trait for innovators, there’s a fine line between determination and stubbornness. In this session, we will explore how to overcome individual and organizational blind spots so we can pull the plug on ideas and free up resources for more promising concepts.

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How to Bring Agile Insights into Product Development
Presenter: Jane Boutelle, Chief Customer Officer, Digsite; Arturo Bonomie, Senior Project Engineer, Sub-Zero

With agile methodologies demonstrating effectiveness across industries, the demand is stronger than ever to foster closer customer collaboration and rapid iterative feedback during product development. Learn how consumer insights, product management and R&D teams are using new technologies for rapid consumer feedback to iterate quickly from the fuzzy front end through final product evaluation. Sub-Zero will also share their journey to reinvent the product testing and field trial process to accelerate launch timelines, reduced rework and improved product quality.

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Achieving Balance Between Design and Product Management to Drive Innovation
Presenters: Jason Prunty, Senior Manager, UX, Billtrust; Frank Buck, Senior Manager, Product, Billtrust

When product management and design reach an equilibrium, like yin and yang, the combined team becomes the seed that matures into a product culture of successful innovation. Creating balance is key: too far in one direction, leads to a patchwork product; too far in the other, a search for perfection while delivering minimal value. Learn techniques companies can use to keep Product Management and Design balanced, while creating a culture that values this dynamic relationship.


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Applying the Lean Canvas as a Minimum Viable Business Case
Presenters: Sudhi Gulur, Solutions Product Manager - Business Development,Boeing Global Services

This was rated as a conference “best session” in 2017 and it is back and better this year. The Lean Canvas, created by Ashy Maurya, is a powerful one-page tool for understanding the viability of a product concept before development begins. It is also an excellent collaboration tool, allowing you to quickly analyze 9 dimensions of a concept with others and gain support for the idea.

2:15 - 3:00 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

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Future Proofing: Designing for the Unknown Needs of a New Audience
Presenter: Tania Philip, VP of Product, Shutterstock

As we look to the future, we have to consider how cultural shifts, technological advances and the growing desire for immediacy are influencing the future of design. Products that resonate more deeply with an audience ultimately drive engagement; this requires a deep understanding of user behavior and a holistic approach that takes inspiration from real people. Tania Philip will delve into the role of human-centered design in building products to serve future generation needs.

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TrendSculpting:  Transforming Trend in to Triumphs
Presenter: Rick Seibold, Partner, Initiator

You want to take advantage of the latest trends, but how do you do so in a way that is both disruptive, and not easily copied by competition? The answer: TrendSculpting. Using an interactive, client-partner case study presentation, we’ll demonstrate the principles for using inspiration from analogous and connected categories to carve out compelling, ownable, actionable angles on trends, which ultimately lead to innovative, category-changing ideas that drive real growth.

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Driving Efficiency in New Product Development: How to tailor stage gate, waterfall, agile, and other methodologies to fit specific product and industry needs
Presenters: Gabriel Yoder, Senior Consultant, Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. (IPM); Stacy Heuer; Scott Grzesiak

Although stage gate, waterfall, agile, and lean are some of the most popular PD methodologies, there are no “simple guidelines” for selecting which one to use. Processes that work in highly regulated industries like medical device and pharma can be disastrous in more dynamic industries like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). IPM’s cross-industry experts will discuss the differences between PD methodologies and share ideas on tailoring them to fit your specific product and industry needs.

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Using the Value Proposition Canvas to Align Jobs-to-be-Done, Customer Pains, and Customer Gains
Presenters: Sudhi Gulur, Solutions Product Manager - Business Development,Boeing Global Services

All product managers know they need to clearly and accurately express the value proposition for their product. Getting this right early, during idea validation, can be the difference between a success or a failure. But, after analyzing thousands of business cases, the value proposition is the most difficult piece to get right, leading to confusion about the product vision and poor decision-making by the product team. The solution to this mess is the Value Proposition Canvas, originated by Alex Osterwalder, also known for the Business Model Canvas.

3:15 - 4:45 p.m.

Panel Discussion — Topics du Jour 
A discussion of current topics from the participants.

4:45 - 5:00 p.m.

Closing Remarks: Taking Competitive Edge With You

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