DS Performance Group - Dramatic and Sustainable Performance - Individuals, Teams, and Organizations
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New Product Development

Reducing Time to Market

In 1984 we began work with 3M's Occupations Health and Safety Products division to implement Action Teams to accelerate new product development. A Harvard Business School study conducted 3 years later showed a 50% reduction in cycle time as a result of these efforts.

We followed OH&SP action teams for ten years to assure we sustained that level of performance over time. Not surprisingly we encountered many roadblocks to team performance in the Divisions culture and infrastructure. Therefore, to sustain the gains make by Action Teams, we had to make some fundamental changes in how the Division operated.

  • We redesigned the project planning process to make it a dynamic learning process that maximized collaboration between teams and management.
  • We redefined management roles and responsibilities to minimize the boss role and maximize the enabler role.
  • We created a new team based structure with new product teams, business teams and an executive strategic team.

Since this early beginning we have continued our work in R&D Acceleration and expanded it beyond teams to address the four key elements in cycle time reduction.

Commercialization — Research, Development, Production, Sales

Applying these principles to an entire Commercialization Process can increase performance at each step in the process and improve the hand-off between groups in the process.

  • Research — Accelerates research and facilitates a smooth transition into development.
  • Development — Accelerates development and facilitates a smooth transition into production.
  • Manufacturing — Accelerates scale-up and facilitates a smooth product launch.

Applying these basic principles throughout the entire commercialization process increases efficiency and communications by creating a common language, tools and processes across the organization.

Application of these principles varies at each stage of the commercialization processes. Project planning, for example, must be extremely loose in the Research Stage to allow for maximum creativity. It will get progressively tighter and more rigid in each successive stage.

Integrated Performance Strategies

How these key elements are implemented is extremely critical. To avoid becoming “just another management program” we work with our clients to develop an Integrated Performance Strategy. These strategies integrate training, teambuilding and organizational development to create the ability, willingness and opportunity to achieve high performance on each element.

  • Ability — Training provides individuals with the knowledge and skills to competently perform in each element.
  • Willingness — Teambuilding and collaboration maximize ownership and commitment through participation.
  • Opportunity — Identifying and removing roadblocks in the organizations culture and infrastructure creates the opportunity for high performance.

Maximum performance on each of these key elements can be obtained when ability and willingness are met with opportunity!

Key Elements

Every organization and business is unique; therefore we do not offer a generic cycle time reduction “program.” What we do offer are the following areas of expertise that can be integrated into an existing organization to drive cycle time reduction.

1. High Performance Teams

High performance teams create the perfect vehicle for driving new product development. They create an information rich environment where team members and management collaborate to do the right things, right the first time. Our Team Launch System establishes a Phase/Gate type system for team development that consistently creates high performance teams faster, better and cheaper.

For larger organizations we can create Virtual Business Organizations of new product teams, business teams and executive teams. These teams integrate action at each level of the organization - increasing the organizations ability to do the right things for the new product, the right things for the business, and the right thing for the long-term strategic success of the organization.

2. Enabling Management

The industrial age management roles of planning, organizing, controlling and delegating create a major constraint in the process of reducing cycle time. Therefore we developed new roles and responsibilities for management that create a high degree of collaboration between teams and management during the commercialization process. Teams work with management to develop project plans in a “dynamic learning process” that integrates activities across organizational boundaries. Management controls resources and implements project plans according to the time commitments in the plan. Teams and management collaborate to adjust the plan based on learning and changing circumstances.

The Enabling Manager develops self-directed employees who understand the business and are empowered to take action; they create positive team dynamics within their area of responsibility; and they create an organizational infrastructure that provides the opportunity for their staff to work collaboratively with others.

3. Project Planning

A key element of cycle time reduction is establishing project planning as a “dynamic learning process” between teams and management. Even the best plans are often quickly outdated due to learning and changing circumstances. Therefore project planning must be a dynamic process that is agile and responsive to learning and changing circumstances. Applying learning assures the plan is optimized and remains accurate. Adjusting to changing circumstances assures the organization does “the right things” and maximizes resource utilization. The process we establish minimizes personality and politics and maximizes information and analysis to provide accurate, current and credible plans.

New web based planning tools allow teams and management to work in cyber space where plan development, revisions, and communications can all take place @ the speed of thought.

4. Organizational Infrastructure

High performance teams, enabling management, and a dynamic project planning must be institutionalized to achieve dramatic and sustainable reductions in time to market. If they are not, each of these actions will become just another management program that will fade away once management attention is turned elsewhere. Using our Low Performance Loop analysis we identify and remove organizational roadblocks to assure we achieve dramatic and sustainable reductions in new product cycle time.