Listen to the Idea Incubator podcast (under 4 minutes). [audio:https://0a11b2.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/23-Feb-2012-Idea-Incubator-Blog.mp3|titles=23 Feb 2012 Idea Incubator Blog]
New Product Development (NPD) is a field that combines best practices of engineering design with market research to deliver top-line growth for firms in a variety of industries. Yet, somehow engineers and marketers feel they are as far apart as the moon is from the sun – The Clash of Marketing and Engineering.
In one of my favorite articles from the Wall Street Journal (1), it is reported that only one-third of mid-level managers view the relationship between research and development engineers (R&D) and marketing as “collegial.” R&D engineers complain of poor data to establish product specifications; marketing complains that R&D doesn’t involve them in the process early enough. Neither R&D nor marketing can successfully launch a product without cooperation, and trust, from the other group.
The distance between R&D and marketing was demonstrated in a vivid way at a recent Houston Organizational Development Network (HODN) meeting, presented by Dr. John Eggert (2). In an open format and a pre-meeting survey, marketers complained vigorously that engineers used too much jargon and did not understand the business. Engineers vehemently complained that marketers made decisions without satisfactory data and were unwilling to learn (2). Pretty harsh words, yet heads nodded around the room and I can personally verify this work group gap in my daily consulting work.
So, what should we do to move engineers and marketers on the continuum from conflict to cooperation (1)?
- Make sure both sides understand the value that each department brings to the process. At the HODN meeting, participants suggested “Help me understand you.”
- Have the two sides speak a common language. Suggestions at the HODN meeting ranged from “Engage me as an individual,” to “Consider our world view,” to enhance communication between the two sides.
- Focus on the consumer. Perhaps this is the most important learning conveyed at the HODN meeting as participants exclaimed “Collaborate toward common goals” as the most valued piece of advice to share with the “opposing” group.
Today’s business environment is fast-paced and changing rapidly. Information is dispersed across departments, functions, divisions, groups, and geographies more than ever. NPD teams cannot afford to let department silos separate their important communications to generate solutions to customer problems.
Engaging others who are not like ourselves – in job function, personality, or traditions – can enhance the creativity and learning processes and will most certainly lead to more effective product development. One way for practitioners from both sides to ensure cooperation is learning a common framework to approach NPD. New Product Development Professional certification develops a universal language for marketers, engineers, managers, and even customers to understand the NPD process and how to successfully commercialize an idea in today’s globally competitive marketplace. Check out Global NP Solutions’ current workshops for NPDP Certification – whether you go for the exam or not – this course teaches you how to collaborate on development projects with folks of any background! And, all from the ease of your own computer.
1. Kotler, Philip, Wolcott, Robert C. and Chandrasekhar, Suj. Playing Well with Others. Wall Street Journal. [Online] June 22, 2009. [Cited: September 29, 2010.] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052970204830304574133242651502088.html.
2. Eggert, John. What Professionals in Engineering, Science and Technology Want You to Know…And Vice-Versa. s.l. : The Idea Leadership Company, 2010. Summary of a Presentation to the Houston Organizational Development Network.
Image of sun, moon, and earth courtesy of iPadwallpaper.
© 2012 Global NP Solutions, LLC
Your Strategic Innovation Partner for NPDP Certification