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Re: What is your most successful product?

Postby Greenman » April 17th, 2017, 12:25 pm

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iab wrote:
Greenman wrote:In most cases you certainly cannot claim all credit for a product's success, there's many folks responsible for that.


I'd venture to say in all cases.

And it is something I note in interviews. If the candidate repeatedly uses "I" and never uses "we", that is a serious red flag for me.


Totally fair, I've been trying to use less absolutes when I communicate. A designer/proprietor/entrepreneur type of individual could likely take more credit for a product's success rather than a designer who is part of a large corporate team that includes PM's, marketers, engineers, etc.

However, in regards to the case of a corporate designer who identifies a gap in a product line and takes initiative to do some exploratory design and research, and then puts forth a proposal outside of normal channels, and gets it greenlit as a company initiative that results in a successful product, what then? Should that designer take more credit? Doing this can be challenging politically, and that's why I think it takes guts.
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Re: What is your most successful product?

Postby iab » April 17th, 2017, 12:48 pm


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Greenman wrote:However, in regards to the case of a corporate designer who identifies a gap in a product line and takes initiative to do some exploratory design and research, and then puts forth a proposal outside of normal channels, and gets it greenlit as a company initiative that results in a successful product, what then? Should that designer take more credit? Doing this can be challenging politically, and that's why I think it takes guts.


We do that exactly at my current place of employment. We call those projects the 100. Of those 100, 5 get a greenlight and of those 5, 1 launches. As a rule of thumb.

Generally, our customer-facing portion of NPD finds those 100 and usually asks one of our technical folks (designers) for assistance in developing prototypes for evaluation, which in turn generates some of the data when presenting to management to get a greenlight to the 5. That said, a designer can take the initiative to find a 100, I'm doing a couple myself at this point. And I am certainly capable to make prototypes (although I'm old and usually tell younger people to make me what I want) and I am certainly capable to taking them into the field for evaluation. But our customer-facing people have the contacts so I am going to lean on them.

My point is twofold. First is that we already have a culture of bringing "skunk works" to the light of day. I would hope most NPD organizations have something similar. Second, using the team is much more effective than going lone wolf. And as a manager I would question the efficiency of someone going lone wolf. Work smarter, not harder. Taking credit for something that could have been done better with the team is not a good thing in my book.

If your current culture makes doing NPD a challenge politically, you may want to rethink your organization.

Re: What is your most successful product?

Postby Greenman » April 17th, 2017, 10:23 pm

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iab wrote:If your current culture makes doing NPD a challenge politically, you may want to rethink your organization.


It did, and I'm gone.
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iab wrote:We do that exactly at my current place of employment. We call those projects the 100. Of those 100, 5 get a greenlight and of those 5, 1 launches. As a rule of thumb.

Generally, our customer-facing portion of NPD finds those 100 and usually asks one of our technical folks (designers) for assistance in developing prototypes for evaluation, which in turn generates some of the data when presenting to management to get a greenlight to the 5. That said, a designer can take the initiative to find a 100, I'm doing a couple myself at this point. And I am certainly capable to make prototypes (although I'm old and usually tell younger people to make me what I want) and I am certainly capable to taking them into the field for evaluation. But our customer-facing people have the contacts so I am going to lean on them.

My point is twofold. First is that we already have a culture of bringing "skunk works" to the light of day. I would hope most NPD organizations have something similar. Second, using the team is much more effective than going lone wolf. And as a manager I would question the efficiency of someone going lone wolf. Work smarter, not harder. Taking credit for something that could have been done better with the team is not a good thing in my book.

If your current culture makes doing NPD a challenge politically, you may want to rethink your organization.

Can you elaborate on an example of one product that made it all the way through? The more detail, the better... I've been working on some skunk works of my own, and would love to get some insight on how to push them through. Maybe worthy of a separate thread.

Re: What is your most successful product?

Postby iab » April 27th, 2017, 8:13 am


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Brian_Donlin wrote:Can you elaborate on an example of one product that made it all the way through?


Technically, no. I'd be violating my NDA.

But I am happy to speak in general terms. Let's say I have an idea to fix a problem in the hospital (I have been doing medical device most of my career). First step is to verify and give a concrete definition to the problem. This is critical, the problem is always more difficult than any solution. For example, if a hospital is not actively measuring the problem (let's say a particular type of infection), it is not a problem. While the type of infection occurs and the patients are getting treated for it, if is not being tracked, the hospital will not buy any solution because the problem doesn't exist. Yes, healthcare is a most effed up system.

So my customer-facing NPD group indeed determines there is a problem. You then determine the size of the problem. How much money is the hospital spending on the problem. If the market is too small, your larger companies will not generate enough revenue from it to be worthwhile. And unfortunately, the barrier to entry into medical devices is quite high. If you are not a larger company, you don't have the capital to enter. Another reason "small" problems in heathcare are ignored.

While determining the size of the problem, the technical side is creating a solution. Where I work, we go to prototype asap. Drawings don't show in the hospital, pretty much worthless for evaluations. Which is fine because my hot sketch capabilities are average at best. Initially, these prototypes are for show only, they do not function on a patient. But you can use them on a consenting healthcare worker to get their impressions. From this, we determine how intuitive is the solution and how much it excites the healthcare worker. Is it considered extra work or does it decrease work? Is there an obvious benefit to the patient or more importantly, is there an obvious benefit to the healthcare worker? Don't get me wrong, helping the patient is important, but if it inconveniences the HC worker and their perceived benefits to the patient are small, they won't do it. And if yo need a lot of education to the HC to show the benefit to the patient, it is a product less likely to succeed.

Now you have the evidence. It is a problem. It is a "large" problem. It is intuitive. It has a benefit to patient. It has a benefit to the HC worker. The HC worker is excited about the solution. You then take that data, put it into a slide deck and present to management. If all goes well, you come out of that meeting with a green light and a project number from accounting. Before that getting that project accounting number, skunkworks run off your personal PO number which pretty much limits you to purchases in the 3 figure range. The accounting project number means if you can make the case, you can cut POs in the 6 figure range. You are funded.

For us, we now get more data about the problem more directly from the clinician. In skunkworks, you may one speak to a thought leader or two. Look at the literature. Now, you are talking to multiple though leaders. Going to sites throughout the country, not just our local contacts. Going to medical conferences. Testing of solutions ramps up. Small patient evaluations that grow into large patient evaluations. Before launch, we may even start a clinical study that gets handed to our clinical research team after launch. The customer facing group and our technical group are still looking for the best way yo kill the project. Can't be manufactured at a cost that will give of the gross profit we want. We can't sell it at the gross profit we want. Does it have the clinical outcomes we were counting on in the skunkworks phase. Etc. Again, as we gather this information, it is presented to management, especially if we find a way to kill the project. If not, it is green lighted for launch.

After green lighting for launch, you transition out of NPD to the rest of the company. Short term costing, long term costing, product history record, DFMEA, safety testing, specifications, marketing materials, IFU, incomimg inspection plan, tooling plan, etc. After being responsible for first lot to stock, NPD is out and we move on to the next big idea.

Re: What is your most successful product?

Postby AndyMc » April 27th, 2017, 10:33 pm

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^^^
Thanks for sharing the full process of taking a product to market! I haven't been involved in anything of this depth yet so its a very useful read.


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Iab, thanks for taking the time to write out that lengthy reply! Always great to learn about development processes at other companies.

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