Monday, January 05, 2009

Our New Product Delivery is OK

Has the dilemma that the US auto industry is facing stirred up any thoughts about the future of your business? Has confidence in your business wavered at all through any of this? News such as what the auto industry is facing should be a wake up call to all of us involved in product development. If we are not diligent in being the absolute best at delivering products, our business may be headed for trouble at some point down the road.

When querying organizations about project performance a common response I receive is that they are releasing products at an OK or acceptable level. We consider our project execution as being OK, while most projects in our industry are delayed in reaching a production level by somewhere in the 1-3 month range. Essentially it is accepted that projects will be late, supported with a surprisingly common list of reasons why it is the way it is. I have to wonder how long this type of "OK" thinking went on in the big 3 auto industry, while their business was quietly shrinking as their competitors was growing?

Consider that delivering products solely at an acceptable level of productivity may be paving a silent path to diminished business results. During the current business climate there certainly is no room for waste. If projects you are dealing with are plagued by an unpredictable element of any kind, it is essential to deal with the root causes and remove them. If you don't, your competition may be quietly gaining market share because they are. Many organizations have already identified the major issues with project execution, however, are failing to take the next steps by getting to root cause and final resolution. Reasons for a lack of action include a belief that project execution is OK or that it is already as good as it gets, a dangerous assumption that feeds complacency.

A false satisfaction with project performance fosters inaction in seeking root cause and resolution to well-known project challenges. Complacency also bestows a deceptive sense of calm, a quietness that veils the storm of competitive pressures. It is crucial to be able to frankly make a distinction between a misleading sense of contentment and genuinely acceptable project performance. A belief in continuous improvement makes this delineation a simple matter - acceptable project performance is a goal that is never attained and forever sought.

New product delivery must never be considered as "OK". Making a statement to the contrary will allow an organization off the hook for continued improvements to the process of delivering new products. There ought to be an assumption that for every project launch there will be something done differently, with an expectation that it will provide better results than the last project. The alternative to continually planning and expecting improvements will leave your organization to someday face the harsh reality that the big 3 auto is facing today - change immediately or become extinct.

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