Preston Smith's Corner

How can I make our plans to improve product development “stick?”

January 2001 Quick Tip

Each year product developers often plan (or hope) to do a better job of developing new products in the next year. It is much like New Year’s resolutions, which we make on a personal level.

However, at about this time of the year — toward the end of January — these people realize that other priorities have overtaken their plans for making process improvements. Later, looking back at the end of the year, they see that they never got around to implementing their well-intentioned plans.

Since this is the perfect time of year to recognize this phenomenon and correct it, let’s consider two things you can do now to make headway on your plans to develop products faster, better, or cheaper.

First, recognize that process improvements are an investment in a more effective — thus more valuable — organization. “Investment” is the key word here. These improvements are not free; if they were free, you would already be incorporating them. Consequently, in order for them to happen, you will have to allocate specific time and money to them, just as you would for a corporate investment in additional office space or new computer system. For instance, your personal time to implement the change must be budgeted into the investment plan. If it isn’t, you will never be in position to “take” time from activities that generate revenue more directly.

Second, think small. Make your plans and investments in small but sure steps. Resolving to do too much is precisely where most New Year’s resolutions fail.

To learn more, see our PDBPR column New Year’s Resolution Check-up or our article Your Product Development Process Demands Ongoing Improvement.

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

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