There are many views on the challenges associated with developing a new product, but here (in this article) I would like to explore the challenges which can be faced within an organisation when implementing a process to develop a new product.
I have stated it before, that in my opinion, any business which provides a product to market, must have an NPD process.
An NPD process ensures the right product is taken to market in the right way and minimises risks to the business and stakeholders. Risks are minimised because the NPD process challenges the business to consider:
- the market situation.
- manages operational risks.
- provides transparency.
NPD - In short…
To elaborate further, an NPD framework assists the business to deliver a robust solution with the minimal risks to the business by employing a workflow which engages all relevant functions within the business. The most common and widely used NPD framework is a stage gate workflow and is an extremely successful method to implement and manage a development project.
The overall project is broken into typically 4 macro steps;
Within each step there are a number of requirements and deliverables from the various business functions, along with reviews and sign off’s (or approvals) to authorise progression to the next stage of the project. Hence the common term “stage gate”.
So, YOU THINK Challenges the implementation challenges are…
At this point, it is natural to be thinking the challenges to implement an NPD framework are :
- Major organisational change
- Additional resources needed
- Costly implementation of automated systems
- Increase in lead times
These can be challenges, only if they are allowed to be. To use a classic cliche which is very relevant for NPD is: “you have to crawl before you walk”.
If approached in the correct manner the above points are negligible in terms of challenges to implement an NPD framework.
But the REAL challenge is…
In fact the greatest challenge to be faced when implementing an NPD framework, which doesn’t get a mention above is with the staff and their resistance to change.
There is nothing “bad” or “negative” here which should prevent any business from using and benefiting from an NPD framework.
However, it always amazes me the amount of energy lost or wasted in an organisation because of staff resistance when organisational development or improvement occurs. This energy loss occurs even when the change or improvement is to help the business deliver outcomes such as with implementing an NPD framework.
In essence, there is really only one challenge to implementing an NPD frame work and that is: People. However, this one challenge has 5 main reasons for resistance.
This resistance to implementing and NPD framework is typically due to:
1. Fear of Failure: “Now there is a process, what happens if I get it wrong!
2. Accountability: “This NPD process is a lot of work, do you see how long the list is with things I have to do now!”
3. Undermining Teamwork: “I already have a job, how am I going to find the time to do this also?”
4. NPD Ignorance: “This is not how we normally do this!. We have no flexibility now…No room to move…It's going to slow us down and make us too expensive.”
5. Change Resistant: “Why can’t we leave things how they were. We were doing ok!”
I have written in a previous post that NPD is important because it “ensures that an organisation understands its market, delivers favourable outcomes and objectives, and minimises risks to the business and stakeholders.”
Why is “ PEOPLE” the greatest challenge to implementing an NPD framework into a business?
People either as individuals or a collective are creatures of habit. If an organisation does not have a structured way of developing product, then in many cases they will also have a low or poor organisational culture in terms of:
- due diligence,
- risk management,
- ROI (return on investment),
- team work,
- stakeholder engagement, and so on…
This often results in laziness and complacency with ones self and the overall scheme of things. This does not mean that all people involved who are weak in the above are not trying their hardest to make their company the best it can be. This is a classics example of “ you don’t know what you don’t know” and being deficient in the above is just the “norm”.
I have seen this first hand, where an organisation I was involved with lacked capability and most (but not all) people in that organisation lacked the basic skills and necessary competencies to fulfil the above list. This was mostly due to them being long term employees in an industry which was insulated from the typical market competition, demands and pressure, and as a result very little was done over time to develop the organisational capabilities and its people. All of this aside, every person in that organisation worked for the “good” of the company and were passionate about it, but they were pulling in their own individual directions and not a consolidated direction which was the “norm”; “they didn’t know what they didn’t know”.
1. Fear of Failure:
I my opinion, no business can be successful without ensuring its people understand their roles, responsibilities and for what they are accountable for. Without this basic understanding, no company will develop into a highly capable and competent organisation.
3. Undermining Teamwork.
“I already have a job, how am I going to find the time to do this also?”
5. Change Resistance.
- organisation culture is poor
- leadership is not unified
- there is a climate of mistrust
- individuals or groups do not like to step out of their comfort zone
In addition to these, the first four challenges are strongly related to Change Resistance:
- Fear of Failure,
- Undermining Teamwork, and
The Wrap Up.
NPD like any organisational tool, will not doubt be challenged by many and the success of its introduction into any organisation lies with the leadership team; their message, their actions, their support and their willingness to understand it.
The benefits of NPD far outweigh any of the excuses which might be used as to why is shouldn’t be implemented.
Like with any business plan, a strategy on how to win is essential and this also applies with organisational development. A strategy on how to implement NPD (or any organisational development tool ) needs to be considered in order to make the greatest positive impact possible.
If you need help with understanding NPD further or with implementing an effective NPD system into your business to support your innovation opportunities to deliver growth, contact me at ANBA Solutions.
What do you think?
Director - ANBA Pty Ltd