It is tempting, when witnessing a failure of product development, to blame the people. Why? Because the company has invested substantial resources installing a product development process that follows the best practices of the day. They probably also installed an expensive software tool that promised to streamline the process. On top of that, they trained their people on the process and tools.
When unexpected problems arise, projects get delayed or new products fail to meet expectations, management gets involved to “fix” the problems and expedite project completion. The teams have what they need, so the problem must be failure to follow the process.
One manager told us that his corporation was “doubling down” on the process – demanding strict adherence in the expectation that this would solve their problems.
Sometimes companies do get sloppy in following the process, or the project team is lacking needed experience. But we usually find that the project teams are doing their best to balance following the process, managing the budget, meeting the deadlines and getting the right product out the door. The common saboteur is unexpected problems resulting from unidentified and unmanaged risks. In hindsight, most of these risks were obvious, and doubling down on the existing product development process will not fix that flaw.
Keep tabs on our new process called Exploratory PD, we keep risks front and center.