I was called to Jury Duty this week and, with a one-track mind, was reminded in the courtroom of the processes in New Product Development. In both cases, proper planning can make a difference in success or failure.
The case was a highly publicized criminal case in Harris County (Houston, TX). I don’t watch much television and the incident had occurred over a holiday period when I was out of town and not reading the newspaper, so I did not personally know much about the case. However, most of the other prospective jurors were well versed on the media version of the incident and many already held strong opinions regarding guilt of the crime without hearing any evidence. Which, of course, led to very specific questioning of the jury pool by the DA and the Defense Attorney.
You’re probably wondering, “How does this relate to NPD?” Let me explain. First, when we undertake a New Product Development effort for a product, service, or program, we must conduct extensive planning. Planning for NPD must certainly include an evaluation of the market: What do our customers need? What products are our competitors offering? What is the timing for our customers’ needs? How do our customers and our customers’ customers intend to use the new product?
All of these questions fall under the topic of Market Research. Many organizations fail to conduct early, up-front Qualitative Market Research – in fact, only 19% of firms report doing so (see Cooper “Winning at New Products”). Yet, the failure rate for new products is 50% and greater! Ina prior month’s issue of The Village, a newsletter for the NPD community, we talk about the importance of Market Research. Click here to sign up for a free copy of this informational digest.
Second, the attorneys were prepared. They knew who they wanted on their team. They brought special jury analysts with them to monitor the prospective jurors’ behaviors as well as listening to comments, questions, and responses to their inquiries. Attorneys were looking for individuals who would listen carefully to the evidence and be “fair” in their judgments. Prospective jurors were expected to follow the judge’s instructions in deliberating and in assigning any punishment upon a guilty verdict. In short, the jurors would be expected to act as a team for several days to weeks in order to produce the verdict.
In NPD, we also need to build a successful team. We need people with special skills, whether they are technical, marketing, or managerial. We also need to build a cohesive team that can look “fairly” at evidence and make judgments on whether the new product is meeting its specific goals and objectives. We need a synergistic team that can work together closely for weeks or months in order to produce a valuable product that will generate revenue in the marketplace.
Finally, each attorney had a roadmap of how they expected to show their case. In NPD we typically use the NPD Process to guide our efforts of when to advance the new product, service, or program and when to put it on hold, or “send it to jail” in this analogy! Almost every company uses an NPD process today, but it is worth taking a look at your process every couple of years to make sure you are getting the desired results and to make sure that the process is not becoming bulky or hindering the NPD effort.
Going to jury duty was very educational and I learned a lot about how another industry approaches problems. And, I will be reading the newspaper closely over the next couple of weeks to find the resolution of the case. All of the families involved, the victims and the defendant, will be held closely in my thoughts and prayers as well during this difficult period of time.
Image of jury box courtesy of passenlaw.
Image of teams courtesy of modernbhikhi.
Originally posted 6 May 2010
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