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Lean Product Development: Talent Development

19 Aug

Top products are the creation of top designers and developers. Lean Product Development helps in developing expert designers and developers, who are excellent problem solvers and are adept at creating innovative solutions.  Developing Key Talent for Product Management accelerates Innovation and time to market while lowering costs.

Managers responsible for developing creative products and solutions need to take 5 key steps, in order to facilitate Learning and Development of Key Talent in the manufacturing sector:

  1. Incorporate Technical Excellence into the Organization DNA
  2. Create and Implement Design Standards
  3. Hold Regular Technical Design Reviews
  4. Evaluate Organization’s Product Development Process
  5. Revisit Organizational Leadership Culture to Focus on Learning

Let’s dive deeper into the steps to effective Talent Management.

STEP-1 Incorporate Technical Excellence into the Organizational DNA

Technical mastery needs to be at the heart of everyday work practices and the guiding principle for manufacturing concerns.  Incentives, recognition, and rewards should be created based on technical competence, and it should be incorporated into routine business practices.  Likewise, training programs need to be geared towards enhancing the engineers’ technical capabilities.

For instance, technical competence is an integral element of training new engineers at Toyota.  One of the main requirements for qualifying for an engineering leadership position at the company is mentoring of young engineers.  Similarly, Ford Motor Co. has a technical maturity model in place for each department in the engineering function.  The giant automaker reinforces this when creating roles and responsibilities, conducting design reviews, and remunerating its engineers.  These measures help curb attrition and motivate people to stay longer.

STEP-2 Create and Implement Design Standards

The next step is to develop design standards and execute them.  Design standards should be set in place and implemented by using the existing organizational knowledge.  Design leaders should hold regular sessions with developers on a smart board and solicit their views on the layout of a certain system and training an apprentice in design principles.  These design guiding principles should be compiled into user-friendly handbooks for future design and development programs.  Lessons learnt from each project should be incorporated into the design standards with regular updates to the handbooks.

Toyota reserves 10-15 days out of the development project time period for the development team to ponder over the lessons learned from an ongoing project.  The development team incorporates these lessons into the design standards and updates the design manuals with these newer experiences.

STEP-3 Hold Regular Technical Design Reviews

The 3rd step involves holding frequent technical design reviews to nurture people via action learning and collaboration. The product design and development units should organize weekly technical design assessments.  The assessments need to be conducted at the design and development facilities—factory premises, test lab, or prototype shop—instead of a conference room.  This helps in gaining practical knowledge and skills.  Regular assessments assist in developing design and engineering teams through on-the-job experiences and cross-unit cooperation.

Interested in learning more about the other steps to facilitate Learning and Development of Key Talent in the manufacturing sector?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Lean Product Development: Talent Development here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Did You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library.  FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives.  Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market.  They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions.  I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power.  For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients.  In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over!  The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight – it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

Lean Product Development & Innovation

8 Aug

Improving Product Development competencies in designers and developers is a concern for senior leaders in the manufacturing sector.

The approach most organizations take in developing Human Resources does not go beyond staffing the cream of the crop from leading global educational institutes.  Talent Development to them is, typically, sending their people to attend workshops and keeping up with employee annual training hours’ goals, and that’s it.  Companies usually spend more on acquiring latest manufacturing equipment or modern collaboration tools than they do to develop their greatest asset—their people.

Research on manufacturing practices unequivocally suggests that it’s primarily the inspiration to adopt a culture of Continuous Improvement in people that results in operational excellence.  This Continuous Improvement Culture has more significance than implementing Lean practices across all processes.

The “Lean Product Development” concept isn’t a new notion.  The practice has been around since the 1980s.  An MIT study in the 1980s revealed that manufacturing practices in Japanese automakers were totally opposed to those of auto manufacturers in the rest of the world.  These approaches were referred to as “Lean” practices.  Research into manufacturing practices of Toyota has spread the knowledge about Lean Product Development globally.

Lean concept is strikingly opposing to the philosophy that emphasizes on delegating the responsibility of developing the designers’ / developers’ capabilities to the Human Resources Department.  In order to develop and deliver superior products, Lean Product Development focuses on enabling the developers build “personal dexterity” as the key element of success.  The concept necessitates technical training and collaboration between developers.

Before embarking on the Lean Product Development and Innovation journey, organizational leadership should work on finding answers to these 3 fundamental questions:

  1. In order to design better products, which critical insights do we need to develop regarding customers, products, and processes?
  2. Which mediums, organizational knowledge, and tools are required to develop these insights?
  3. Which organizational structures and ways of doing businesses are ideally suited to develop these valuable insights and improving the expertise of developers?

Pondering over these critical questions and answering them facilitates in creating a pool of skilled Product Designers and developers.

Let’s dive deeper into these questions.

Question 1

Lean Product Development emphasizes on developing a steady stream of products at an even pace—referred to as “Takt.”   iPhone 1 and iPhone 2 are examples of a steady stream of products released at regular intervals in Apple’s iPhone value stream.

Takt has evolved the way products are designed.  An initial product is developed as a means to validate an idea.  Products are progressed from the initial product based on stakeholders’ feedback.  The purpose of a value stream of products is to improve the current product offerings, inspire the existing customers to upgrade, and tempt potential customers to try the product.  In these evolving value streams, every product release serves as an opportunity to gain insights into the market.

The value enhancement through Takt has 2 broad objectives:

  • Fixing problems in existing products and creating offerings meeting the customer needs.
  • Lowering manufacturing costs and improving quality.

Question 2 

Lean Product Development underscores the significance of the medium through which developers should learn in order to create superior products.  Developers’ capabilities in technical Problem Solving and learning what the others are doing helps enhance the quality of each new release.  Development teams should have quick access to accumulating a thorough knowledge of the entire supply chain and the effect of their decisions on manufacturing.  This assists in improving the efficiency of the developers.

Instead of learning and gaining knowledge through traditional ways, Lean Product Development encourages the developers to learn through Action Learning—the process where teams are continuously mentored and encouraged to learn collectively on the job, solve problems creatively, and test models to cope with real-life issues.

Interested in learning more about the key elements to consider before enabling Lean Product Development & Innovation, and the phases of the Lean process?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Lean Product Development & Innovation here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Did You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library.  FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives.  Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market.  They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions.  I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power.  For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients.  In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over!  The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight – it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

Consumer Benefits Ladder: A Useful Method to Build a Brand

16 Mar

Marketing, these days, is shifting towards developing great ideas and creating customer experiences that consumers discuss further in their circle.  The focus of the marketing effort is on building a brand image.  To supplement this organizations need to develop a culture that lives the brand.

Top brands have been built by communicating their message to the most loyal customers who then shout it out to their friends and a chain starts making the brand a known name.  Leading brands, today, strive to win a place in the minds of their consumers.

Building a brand necessitates a robust Marketing approach.  Prioritizing the main benefits of a product that an organization wants to concentrate on is a critical decision to build a brand.  The Consumer Benefits Ladder (CBL) is one such method that informs the leaders on how to position their customer benefits in their Marketing campaign.  These benefits should be those that are offered to the customers, and are not that the organization gets.  The benefits transferred to the customers bring positive outcomes for the organization as well.

The prime focus of the Consumer Benefits Ladder is to identify the key benefits of a product.  The framework classifies consumer benefits into 4 broad types—symbolized by the rungs of a ladder:

RUNG 1 – Product Availability

RUNG 2 – Product Features

RUNG 3 – Functional Benefits

RUNG 4 – Emotional Benefits

The Consumer Benefits Ladder functions on the principle of developing insights incrementally to build Brand Loyalty in customers.  The concept of the Consumer Benefits Ladder originates from the “Laddering interview” technique used in Psychology and Marketing Research.

The Laddering technique explores an individual’s inner views through a battery of interrelated queries. The responses obtained against each query are further probed more deeply.  The data gathered is refined to build insights, revealing the individual’s fundamental beliefs and ethics, without the person knowing it.

Let’s dive deeper into the individual rungs of the CBL.

RUNG 1 – Product Availability

The initial rung of the Consumer Benefits Ladder ensures the availability of the product in the target market.  This step of the Consumer Benefits Ladder focuses on making people understand what the product is and how they can get it.  It is a straightforward yet effective approach to Brand Building where leading organizations employing this strategy:

  • Focus on product availability.
  • Add some tone and humor in the delivery of their marketing campaigns alongside their simple product availability-centric strategy.
  • Emphasize on price as a huge driver for its customer base and value creation.
  • Consistently execute their strategy and strive to win their customer loyalty and repeat business.

RUNG 2 – Product Features

The second rung of the CBL identifies the physical characteristics of a product, its unique offerings, and describes what it does.  Most organizations tend to focus on benefits instead of plain product features.  However, product feature strategy is quite effective when:

  • The customers are aware of their exact requirements and they do not want organizations translating their product features into benefits.
  • The product features are quite evident.

The Product Strategy based on product features entails clearly listing all the features, brand assets, and competitive advantages that a product offers.  For instance, it outlines the material it is prepared of, its weight, and color.

RUNG 3 – Functional Benefits

The 3rd step of the CBL Framework identifies the promise you make to the customers and the value (rational benefits) that the customers get from the brand.  A focus on the functional benefits of the Consumer Benefits Ladder necessitates careful deliberation of the brand features, screening them from the consumers’ point of view, and their utility for the consumer.

Interested in learning more about the key steps and rungs of the Consumer Benefits Ladder?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Consumer Benefits Ladder here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Do You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro LibraryFlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives. Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market. They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions. I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power. For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“As a small business owner, the resource material available from FlevyPro has proven to be invaluable. The ability to search for material on demand based our project events and client requirements was great for me and proved very beneficial to my clients. Importantly, being able to easily edit and tailor the material for specific purposes helped us to make presentations, knowledge sharing, and toolkit development, which formed part of the overall program collateral. While FlevyPro contains resource material that any consultancy, project or delivery firm must have, it is an essential part of a small firm or independent consultant’s toolbox.”

– Michael Duff, Managing Director at Change Strategy (UK)

10 KPIs Critical for Product Management

6 Mar

Product Managers are responsible for defining the features or functions of a Product and for overseeing the development of the Product.  The role of Product Managers spans many activities from developing Product Strategy to tactical plan and can vary based on the organizational structure of the organization.

Typically, Product Leaders are involved with the entire Product Lifecycle.  However, the Product Management’s primary focus is on driving New Product Development.  To successfully execute these roles, it’s important for Product Management to collect and synthesize proper, relevant data to make informed Product decisions.

Product Managers need to evaluate 10 categories of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to determine the most appropriate KPIs relevant to their work:

  1. Product Stickiness
  2. Product Usage
  3. Feature Adoption
  4. Feature Retention
  5. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  6. Leading Indicators
  7. Top Feature Requests
  8. Product Delivery Predictability
  9. Product Bugs
  10. Product Speed and Reliability

Let’s discuss these Product Management KPIs in a bit detail.

Product Stickiness

KPIs around Product Stickiness determine whether users are re-engaging with our product.  If a product is successful, it exhibit “stickiness.”  That means users don’t just sign up and forget about it.  They continuously live inside the product, such that it becomes part of their daily routine.  A good product should not long attract new users, but to also continuously re-engage with its users.

Product Stickiness is often measured by taking the ratio of our Daily Active Users (DAU) to Monthly Active Users (MAU): i.e., DAU/MAU.  This metric calculates the percentage of our monthly users who engage with our product on a daily basis.

Product Usage

It is inevitable that not all features of a product will be utilized the same.  Some features are more heavily used, whereas others are not.  The only way to know what product features are important to users is by measuring how our product is being used.  Measuring user engagement across the product allows us to answer what features should we enhance, which ones to eliminate, and which features to promote to increase users awareness of the product functionality.

Product usage is measured by using 3 key metrics—Breadth: refers to the number of active users for a given client within the last 90 days.  Depth: Captures whether users are using key features that make the product sticky.  Frequency: e.g., number of logins across all devices within the last 90 days.

Feature Adoption

These KPIs seek to understand and set feature adoption goals.  Key question to clarify these KPIs is whether users are adopting the newly released features.  Feature adoption data of recent feature launches is critical to determine appropriate feature adoption goals.  It is important to look at feature adoption at both the user level and account level.  For instance, different customer groups with an account may exhibit different levels of adoption for different feature sets.

The key metric to measure feature adoption is the percentage of users using the feature.  This should be evaluated across multiple features on a timescale (typically for at least 30 days following the feature release).

Feature Retention

Feature retention KPIs reveal true adoption of features vs. the initial promotion-driven adoption.  Feature Adoption seeks to measure initial use of a feature, whereas Feature Retention seeks to measure the long-term, persistent usage of a feature.  Measuring feature retention helps us identify at-risk users who have started to disengage from the product after the initial promotion is over.  We can then take action to re-engage these users.

Feature retention can be measured across different customer segments, e.g., by pricing (Free vs. Paid), by organization size (Startups vs. Enterprises), by position (Analyst vs. Manager).

Interested in learning more about the other KPIs critical to manage and develop a Product Portfolio?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Product Management KPIs here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Do You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro LibraryFlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives. Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market. They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions. I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power. For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“As a small business owner, the resource material available from FlevyPro has proven to be invaluable. The ability to search for material on demand based our project events and client requirements was great for me and proved very beneficial to my clients. Importantly, being able to easily edit and tailor the material for specific purposes helped us to make presentations, knowledge sharing, and toolkit development, which formed part of the overall program collateral. While FlevyPro contains resource material that any consultancy, project or delivery firm must have, it is an essential part of a small firm or independent consultant’s toolbox.”

– Michael Duff, Managing Director at Change Strategy (UK)

Utilizing Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM) to Appreciate Consumers’ Willingness to Pay (WTP) for a Product

9 Jul

The decision for pricing a product or service isn’t as simple as it seems. It is a key consideration for executives. Pricing way above the rival products risks not attracting the required customers while charging way below the competitor products could be equally detrimental.

Manufacturers can utilize research to have a better understanding on what consumers are willing to pay for a product. There are a host of research-based pricing approaches available — e.g., Monadic, Sequential Monadic, Conjoint Analysis, Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter etc. — however, researchers often get confused on which one to use in a given product development phase. Let’s discuss the Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter approach for now.

The Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM) is an easy-to-use method of evaluating price of a new product. The method was developed by Peter Van Westendorp in 1976. Through the PSM approach, consumers undergo a short survey where they answer 4 questions about their price expectations. These answers are used to determine the maximum amount a consumer is willing to pay for a particular product and how higher the price be set for the customer to still buy the product.

The approach offers a ball-park figure for the price of a product, is easy to administer, requires less effort from the consumers, and the PSM results are communicated in the form of simple diagrams. The approach, however, surveys only the “willingness to pay” attribute of a product, and is more appropriate for innovative products — as it is not easy to determine prices with competing products using this approach. PSM analysis should be a part of your Pricing Strategy process.

The PSM approach encompasses the following key phases:

  1. Plan and Execute Market Research Survey
  2. Analyze Data
  3. Evaluate Intersections to Determine Price

Let’s discuss the first 2 phases of the approach.

Plan and Execute Market Research Survey

The initial phase of the PSM research entails deciding on the medium of the study and planning the logistics, design, resources, guidelines, and governance protocols for the survey. More specifically, the phase involves:

  • Preparing the field research plans.
  • Determining whether the survey should be conducted online, telephonically, or face-to-face.
  • Identifying the consumers (respondents).
  • Assigning the required resources to the survey.
  • Getting the data collection tools and research instrument (questionnaire) ready. 

The study questionnaire should include the following questions:

  • At what price the product would become so expensive for you to even consider buying it?
  • Indicate the price that is expensive for you but you would still buy the product?
  • What would be the price that is too cheap for the product where you would start doubting its quality and not buy it?
  • Indicate the price of the product where you would consider it a great value for money (a bargain)?
  • Gathering data from the survey participants.

Analyze Data

The second phase pertains to analyzing the respondents’ data from the field survey. This is done once the field data has been validated and cleansed of any inconsistent errors. The steps taken in this phase include:

  • Ordering the 4 questions in a manner that it ranks prices as “Too Cheap,” “Bargain,” “Getting Expensive,” and “Too Expensive.” The values of these ranks should be kept in numeric dollar values.
  • Plotting the responses of the survey participants on a graph.
  • Depicting the prices on the X-axis.
  • Representing the percentage of consumers who quoted the respective price (i.e. the cumulative frequency) on the Y-axis.
  • Reversing the values of the two curves.
  • The curves with the values “Too Cheap” and “Too Expensive” are drawn with inverse values. This creates two other curves. These curves show the percentage of consumers who regard prices as “Getting Expensive” and “Bargain.”

nterested in learning more about the other phase of the Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter? You can download an editable PowerPoint on the Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM) here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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