- Author of the book, "Innovate Products Faster: Graphical Tools for Accelerating Product Development" enabling companies to have both innovation and speed for clients from start ups to Fortune 100s
- 25 years of leading global organizations to deliver compelling products and technologies including Apple, Cisco and AOL
- All 7 Best Practices
- Pre-Call Discovery Process
- One-on-One Call with Expert
- Session Summary Report
- Post-Session Engagement
High-Performance Product Development Teams
- Product developers often pay more attention to functional alliances than to customer-focused product delivery.
Product development groups tend to be organized functionally but it takes cross-functional collaboration to deliver a product to market on time. In many cases developers are more focused on the org chart than their customers. They make decisions based on what supports the functional group as opposed to what supports the customer.
This internal rather than external orientation inhibits their ability to deliver innovative products to market. Despite all of the talk over more than two decades about the importance of cross-functional collaboration, many companies are still spending more time trapped inside of functional silos than they are collaborating on features that delight customers.
- Upper management fails to understand how much low-performance teams have cost them and how much they can gain from high performance teams.
If an organization has little experience with high performance teams then the leaders don’t know what they’re missing. The lost opportunities are vast. Upper management tends to micromanage because they don't like surprises. When they micromanage, however, they foster a culture where the workforce waits to be told what to do. The team becomes reactive rather than proactive because management doesn't trust them to manage themselves and drive projects that create winning new products.
One of the risks of tolerating low-performance teams is that people who want to be responsible and accountable, and want to take the responsibility for driving innovation leave the company. Low-performance teams lead to attrition among the best performers, and the resulting brain drain limits innovation and speed.
- Low-performance teams are unable to respond quickly to change.
Consider these scenarios:
- The CEO looks at the prototype for a product that is about to ship and she wants to redesign the packaging for aesthetic reasons.
- A competitor got their product to market before you did and now your company has fallen behind.
- The lead engineer resigned without completing the design of a key component.
Low-performing teams have great difficulty absorbing the impact of changes like these. They lack coordinated teamwork and make poor decisions at the team level and chaos ensues. Absent strong collaboration, clear roles and responsibilities, and accountability, teams scramble when faced with change. Unexpected changes are challenges for even the best teams but low-performance teams are not able to absorb the shock, think critically and align to manage change. Time is gained or lost every day at the team level so that ability to respond to change can make the difference between a clear winner in the marketplace and an also-ran.
- Low-performance teams attract the “want to be told what to do” crowd which kills innovation and speed.
When teams don't have the authority to respond to change successfully, and to make decisions for the team, they tend to do only what they’re told to do. Many executives would like to feel able to delegate decision-making authority, but they don't have confidence in the team to do it themselves. In such a culture, the senior leadership makes every decision. The team can't make a decision because it's likely to be overruled by the only decision-makers. Managers know that empowering teams is the better approach but they don't know how to break the cycle. They do not know the Best Practices that drive high-performance product development teams.
- Many product development organizations appear to be busy to the point of chaos – but not much seems to be getting done.
Unfortunately, a great deal of the crush and chaos is more about bureaucracy than it is about positive forward progress toward shipping a superior product to market. For example, some review processes involve onerous presentation slide decks that shift focus from customers to internal procedures. For many projects, a lightweight process with fewer check-ins is a better approach, but this structure entails empowering teams and many companies are struck in the cycle where teams wait to be told what to do. When things go awry, there’s often more finger pointing and blame than collaboration and trust. The team looks busy – even frantic – but if they’re not collaborating effectively the hyperactivity is not necessarily focused on anything a customer would notice.