Think of a factory. You may visualise a Henry Ford type factory, or a more modern Toyota type facility.
Either way, there are three main processes involved.
In one end goes a raw materials. Out the other comes finished goods ready for sale.
The first process is Goods In. The task of Goods In is to sort through everything, reject any faulty goods and organise the rest into the warehouse. All material has to be screened first – otherwise carrying out the next process will lead to rejects later on.
The second process is to work with those goods. Turn them, mould them, weld them, bolt them together, paint them, package them, and get them ready for sale.
The third process is to despatch those goods. The customer inspects them, accepts them, pays for them and uses them.
I want to focus on the second process.
Consider the difference between a back-street jobbing shop and a streamlined systematic production line. Both in theory have all the tools and techniques to make a car. But which one would you trust to build YOUR car? Do you want a car that you can rely on at a price that you can determine up front? Or are you happy to throw money at a jobbing shop that might build you the car to your exact specifications (including the flower-shaped door handles and blue tinted windows you’ve always wanted) but can’t tell you how long it will take or how much it will be until it’s finished?
Regardless of how product development is managed or mismanaged, there is always a process to follow. The definition of a process is “a systematic series of actions directed to some end” or “a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner”
What results do you think will result from a messy and disorganised process? The end product will be unpredictable. It may be a breakthrough idea that will take over the world. Or it may just as likely (or probably more likely) be an utter flop.
Conversely, what results are likely to ensue from an organised and systematic process?
Boring? Most likely.
Commercially viable? Almost certainly.
Conjure up the picture of a mad professor or a Heath Robinson type inventor coming up with so many hare brained ideas and possibilities, but with no commercial acumen.
History is littered with such people who ended up dying penniless because the job didn’t get finished and the ideas weren’t commercialised. Not difficult to visualise – everyone knows someone like that.
Then visualise an innovation factory. In goes the raw ideas, out comes a fully developed product, ready for market. At a predictable price and on a predictable lead-time. Do you know of any like this?