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Culture, Organizations and Teams Summary

While strategy and process are essential to product development and product management, this alone will not lead to the sustained success of an organization. People are ultimately what make an organization successful. It is the culture and climate that ultimately provides the framework within which the strategy and process can be positively and successfully implemented.

Culture is defined as the shared beliefs, values, assumptions and expectations of people in the organisation.

The importance of an innovation culture is strongly advocated across most leading organisations, and while there is no “magic bullet” for creating it, the factors and initiatives that feature in most successful innovation cultures include:

  • Clearly communicated and shared direction and goals
  • Willingness to try and fail and the encouragement of such
  • Individual objectives related to overall organisation objectives
  • Recruiting for fit with the innovation culture
  • Effective communications internally and externally
  • Vigorous debate as opposed to passive acceptance
  • Recognition, rewards and enjoyment

It is easier said than done, as research shows that only a small minority of staff feel motivated to innovate and the majority feel that new ideas are poorly received.

Organizations may use Waterfall, Stage-Gate® or Agile processes depending on their preferences and needs. There should be a process champion responsible for establishing and ensuring the quality of the product development process. The process owner is responsible for the strategic results of the new product process, including throughput, quality and participation. The process manager is responsible for the orderly and timely flow of ideas through the process. The project manager is responsible for managing specific product development projects through the organization’s process. Often in smaller organizations, some of these roles may be combined.

Product management is responsible for ensuring that a product or portfolio meets the needs of customers by continuously monitoring and modifying the set of products and propositions in the market. Key roles include alignment with product strategy and coordination across functions. Typically, a product manager has responsibility for a product or category of products. Hierarchies of product management vary significantly across organizations depending on size, complexity and business nature.

It is generally accepted that the best performing teams for product development are those that have representation from a cross-section of functions, who must understand and commit to the required level of involvement. Strategic Alignment, Engagement and Empowerment are critical for the creation of high-performance teams. Different matrix structures can be used depending in the organizational and project context.

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