How to Design for Speed and Simplicity
Guest post from Bart Huthwaite
Quick time-to-market comes from getting the small things right. Here is a check list to follow:
- Smaller is better. Keep your product team small, typically no more than 6-8 members. And make sure all know the importance of product speed and are totally committed to it. Communication is faster when fewer are involved.
- Get the “Big Picture” first. Don’t start without a clear “end-in-view” and a strategy for getting there. Build your strategy on the strategic values which will make your product or service a long term winner. Your team members will be able to make decisions faster. Strong “buy-in” to a team’s game plan encourages faster response time when crises arise.
- Work in parallel. Parallel work compresses product launch time. Constantly work to build confidence and trust, thus encouraging early understanding and commitment of these parallel teams.
- Avoid “sand bag” solutions. Sand bag solutions are those which slow down a new product effort. These can include specifying a new, untested manufacturing process, launching a product with an untrained sales force and implementing a new CAD system the same time you are developing a new product effort. These kinds of innovation are best done “off-line,” and are only inserted into the product development cycle when they are fully proven.
- Create a “Team Efficiency Charter.” Identify and agree on the characteristics of a highly efficient new product team. Good product teams build standards of excellence and then adhere to them.
- Measure both product effectiveness and team efficiency in “real time.” Product effectiveness is how well your product is attaining its goals. Team efficiency is how well your team dynamics are working, such as the speed decision-making and follow-through. Fast track product teams keep a stop watch record of everything.
- Think ahead. Develop your product in three generations. This helps your team anticipate the future. I call this technique “step”, “stretch” and “leap.” This helps you prepare for future shifts in technology, competition and marketplace changes. This helps you avoid “re-inventing the wheel.” Only insert new technology into your product when risk has been reduced to a minimum.
- Get management involved and committed at the early concept stage. Management buy-in “up-front” reduces your team’s fear of failure. Do this beginning at the early product concept stage.
- Be time driven. Never start a meeting or a task without first setting a specific time to finish it. And stick to your guns. Avoid trying to get the entire job done in one sitting. Shoot for 80% and then come back to the issue later. Iteration is a hallmark of effective design teams.
- Let us know how we can help. LEAN Product Design is our passion. Contact us to learn about our onsite programs to help you.