Preston Smith's Corner

How can we complete our design work if marketing keeps changing the requirements?

December 2004 Quick Tip

This frequent complaint is a symptom of weak cross-functional team interaction.

Several years ago, product development managers recognized this weakness and instituted new organizational forms, such as a vice president of product development or core teams, and team training to improve interaction between departments. Unfortunately, these improvements often have reverted to the former silos, and globalization has exacerbated the deterioration.

Although development managers have put effective teams behind them as “conquered land,” when I lead training sessions in time-to-market, the item that consistently comes to the top of participants lists as an opportunity for improvement is better cross-functional teamwork. That is, the product developers see an opportunity here that is not apparent to their bosses.

What can you do? I’ve found that different opportunities exist for each organization, and thus the best solution works out differently in each case. There are no universal answers.

Consequently, I suggest that you look at some of the current team literature and search for approaches that will help you overcome your current obstructions.Here are some leads:

  • Our recent handbook chapter on Concurrent-Product-Development-Teams
  • A book and some articles by Christopher Avery, who emphasizes the individual skills required for good teamwork: https://www.christopheravery.com
  • If you are especially interested in the disruption that marketing initiates with product requirements changes, consider how some of the agile software development methodologies, such as Scrum and Extreme Programming, overcome this: agilealliance.org

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


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