13Improving Product Development Performance

13.1 Introduction

The previous chapters in this book have been concerned with the approaches and methods for developing new technologies or new products. They have laid out the framework within which this economically important activity should be structured and managed. New or emerging organisations can use the preceding material to help them start on their journeys and, hopefully, achieve results more quickly. However, most organisations are not starting with a blank piece of paper. They already have programmes of work in this area and are asking the question, ‘How can we improve our product development performance’?

The art of bringing about ‘improvement’ or ‘change’ is a well‐researched topic. There are many formulae on offer and the many experts on the subject point out that most change initiatives unfortunately fail. Initiatives in the field of product development are no exception to this point and arguably are more difficult to undertake given the long timescales of the activity and the intangible nature of the work.

However, the potential rewards are considerable: an effective technology and product development system is a tremendous competitive advantage that other companies will find difficult to replicate. It is also possible to build up improvements in performance over time, based on a combination of small‐scale, local improvements alongside strategic, company‐wide programmes. As with most initiatives in business, persistence ...

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