Friday, January 30, 2009

Strategic product planning - execution

Now what do we work on?

Once you’ve gone through the work of pulling ideas from your team in an inspiring and thoughtful way... wait, you haven't done that yet?

Everyone one of us is unique in how we look at the world, perceive information and apply it. Bringing together a large team in your organization and presenting information in a clever way and making fun out of ideation will not only pull those ideas of us, but will encourage all to be more creative daily, to embrace the projects that trickle down from that meeting, and to contribute over and above what's expected.

I like to start with information. Corralling ideation around customer needs, available technology, and company goals is a great way to get everyone on the same page. Categorizing by product, technology, and services is a good way to start to unlock or pull ideas from the group. Starting individually with anonymity will give the creative mind the freedom to share.

Sure a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats assessment is necessary, but let's talk about the creativity that's in your company right now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Strategic product planning - ideation

Many Fortune 500 companies have formal ideation programs that include a product planning development strategy and a systematic method of idea development that both inspires employees and creates product ideas that grow their business annually. Does your company? Do you really need one?

Bringing together a diverse motivated group will suffice.

Sitting around a table with someone at the white board holding a pen and 'brainstorming' doesn't really work that well either you've probably noticed.

Traditional brainstorming doesn’t work if it hasn’t been prepared for appropriately. Elements for a successful session are: consumer feedback, market data, customer input, technology innovation, and the experience of your staff on all levels as well as in all areas of the company. The idea is to bring to the table and present in such a way to draw out the creativity in your staff -as this is critical to the value of the ideas resulting.

Enticing participation from this crowd is a whole other piece. In our daily work our brains are moving a mile a minute. For the creative space to open up, one needs to be able to set aside the appointments, anxiety, ill feelings towards a colleague perhaps, stress, and to-do lists just for a short time. For the creative space in all of us to speak, it must be coaxed much like our social selves.

Having the right inputs, leading your group through exercises that will calm, relax, yet excite, and then the right mo-jo to collect the consequential outpouring of ideas will get your 2009 and 2016 plans on the page.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Working together

Making things happen outside of your department can be challenging as well as depend on your corporate culture, lines of communication, and relationships between leaders. How do production staff view engineering staff? How is your product development group viewed by your manufacturing team? Having a member of the manufacturing team in your product development launch group may not be enough to enable smooth transition into production nor capture accurate anticipated costs.

Frequent communication and strong personal relationships foster strong teams and will create more successful product launches. Regularly scheduled planning meetings including all members along with frequent timely reporting go a long way! Bring colleagues in early before potential failures become issues. Sticking to an agenda, allowing honest feedback, and utilizing the team in brainstorming for issues and solutions will encourage a collective effort. A walk out to the production floor visiting the production manager, future production staff, the maintenance personal, manufacturing and quality staff (you get the idea) to explain the progress of your project is invaluable.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Do more

Do more what, one might ask? Three years ago I decided to do more of what I hold close to my heart.

More work that I felt good about
More impact where I'm needed
More volunteering
More mission work
More personal creative time
More reflective space
More travel

You get the idea. I started a business in 2006 to apply more of what I do to businesses that need it. In 2007 I went on my first international mission trip. In 2008 I finished my first book. What will 2009 hold? I have an idea, but know it will be more.

This space will be dedicated to my thoughts about various systems, methods, and ideas. I will also post personal projects as appropriate.