manage risk

Managing Uncertainty and Risk in Product Development


Kathy Morrissey and Mary Drotar, Partners of Strategy 2 Market, received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corp) for their research in uncertainty and risk in product development.  In particular, for their Product Risk Framework software tool, that incorporates behavioral economic principles to improve team decision-making.  It helps product development teams to identify, manage and track the reduction of risk and uncertainty.

This grant is held through the University of Chicago and supported with funding from the NSF. The I-Corps program is specifically designed for participants working on projects related to the STEM fields.

Part of the grant is interviewing top innovation leaders from across multiple disciplines (R&D/Engineering, Product Management, Marketing, etc.), and industries (Medical Device, Insurance, Industrial, Telecom, Food/Beverages, CPG, CE, etc.). These interviews provide valuable input on what features and functionality are needed within the Product Risk Framework software tool.

The Product Risk Framework provides an opportunity to reverse the considerable and increasing societal impacts of product failure and wasted resources–not only in terms of the lost time, expertise, materials, energy, and the cascade of dud products—but extending to the debilitating effects of failure in an organization whose perception of progress depends so heavily on the increasing performance and success of its products.

Our research found that the highest areas of risk are typically the biggest areas of delay.

The Product Risk Framework will inspire product development teams to take more calculated risks when developing products, through the process of tracking the resolution of uncertainty and risk during development. Furthermore, the Product Risk Framework graphics package provides a means of clearly displaying the process by which risks are resolved over time, providing transparency and trust across the organization.

The Product Risk Framework ultimately leads to killing inappropriate projects early, reducing time to market, gaining project visibility across an organization, cross-discipline buy-in, fewer surprises later in the project and overall product success.

The unique Product Risk Framework value proposition is its ability to help companies prevent product failure and build confidence in the pursuit of riskier, higher-return projects.

Consider our Reducing Uncertainty and Risk in Product Development seminar.  We use the Product Risk Framework to help your project team evaluate the amount of risk your organization is taking on with a potential product idea.  We recommend this seminar for high-risk products or categories your organization may be considering in the future.

Here is some feedback on the Product Risk Framework:

  • It was very thorough and made us think about many different things when entering the US market.
  • It aligned our cross-functional team on what it would take to actually develop this new category.
  • A unified look at risks across different departments is an imperative part of this software.
  • Academics discuss uncertainty and risk in product development, but they don’t offer a solution. The Product Risk Framework offers a solution to this complex problem.
  • This is particularly important for Corporate Incubators, and integrating the downstream business.
  • We did not really consider many of these factors prior to the Product Risk Framework session, this session really opened our eyes to the risk and uncertainty we would take on with this new product idea.

To learn more about our approach to product development,  please read our latest Product Risk Framework white paper and case study and visit our Product Risk Framework website for further information.

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For more information, contact:

Mary Drotar, Partner

Strategy 2 Market, Inc.



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