Preston Smith's Corner

What drives – or should drive – our product development?

March 2008 Quick Tip

Bob Becker nicely shows how a development project can be guided by one of three approaches:

  • M, where MANAGEMENT primarily makes the decisions that move the project forward,
  • P, where an established PROCESS provides the guidance, and
  • T, where TEAM members are relied on to guide progress.

Every actual project employs a blend of these, but what counts is the relative emphasis of the three. As Becker describes, each of the three has its strengths and weaknesses. Thus, our opportunity is to adjust the blend to the project’s needs.

Most companies start with a predominant M style, because the P and T styles aren’t developed yet. As the organization matures, management becomes overloaded, and project complexity grows, they move toward a P style. This overlooks the T style. The T style requires an investment in people, training, and sometimes management coaching if the M style has been predominant, but often there is no compelling motivation to develop the T style.

The T style isn’t a magic cure, but it can have strong advantages, especially for projects experiencing a great deal of change (where prescriptive P approaches don’t fit and M approaches can’t provide timely guidance). Chapter 6 of our book, Flexible Product Development, covers strong teams and guides you in developing them.

In short, M and P styles tend to develop of their own accord, but often the T style needs specific nurturing to evolve. Every project needs a blend, and certain projects can benefit greatly from a T emphasis. Have you developed your T strength so that you will have it when you need it?

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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