Blog: Focus or Die

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Doubling New Product Success: Focus

Many of our clients are looking for growth through new products, and write that into their OGSP work.  New research from McKinsey & Company suggests that's a winning behavior.

Authors Mike Gordon, Chris Musso, Eric Rebentisch, and Nisheeth Gupta from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company surveyed more than 300 employees at 28 companies across North America and Europe on their new product development practices. 

They found that companies who successfully launched new products did three things different or better than unsuccessful companies. It all about focus, focus and focus.

Focus on Deliverables:

New product success depends on a clear and focused set of project requirements communicated to teams before kickoff.  According to the authors, "teams with a clear understanding of project requirements appeared better able to make trade-offs between product performance and things like cost, time to market, and project risk. Only 19 percent of poor performers said they had the necessary information to make those decisions."

Focus on Priorities:

The top-performing companies make product development a priority. They made more of an effort than the laggards - 39 percent versus 12 percent - to minimize staffing disruptions due to external demands and to staff projects adequately. As the authors conclude, "When people with critical skills become overburdened, they often decide on their own which of their many projects is the most important, a decision best made at the management level."

Focus on the Customer:

The successful innovators kept in close contact with customers throughout the development process. More than 80 percent of the top performers said they periodically tested and validated customer preferences during the development process, compared with just 43 percent of bottom performers. They were also twice as likely as the laggards to research what, exactly, customers wanted. That made them better able to identify and fix design concerns early on, minimizing project delays.

The Results: The teams in the study that practiced this kind of focus were 17 times as likely as the laggards to have projects come in on time, five times as likely to be on budget, and twice as likely to meet their company’s return-on-investment targets.

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