Pulse Labs is excited to have as a guest author John Moloney, former Chief Commercial Officer at Bose, and now a consultant on organizational transformation.
Business used to be done on the golf course. That suited the times: Golf is generally a slow-moving, well-established game with clear rules and known traps. Historically, that worked for product development strategies, too, because those were implemented slowly, with plenty of down time between fairly predictable moves. Play the course, stay the course. No more.
Thanks to rapid prototyping and a reliance on technology, products are developed faster than ever. And information on how people use these products comes in faster and, more importantly, from new “sensors” that produce new “signals” (such as Pulse Labs’ product success insights).
So companies can create things more quickly and, if they know where to look, can gather relevant data and insights more quickly. The unfortunate limiting factor is that many companies are not yet organized for fast decision-making. The lack of that agility hinders response times and elongates product development lifecycles, wasting time and market share. And that leads to a product success gulf.
Managing product success in today’s technology-centric world requires that your organizational structure be just as ready. It needs to be designed for speed: knowing faster and acting faster. It's not golf, it's speedskating.
Some companies are already there. And that enabled them to be disruptive and leapfrog traditional players. Tesla is the poster child. Those that have been leapfrogged have two options: talk about what happened or reorganize around speed. In other words, if you’re still running a business at the speed of golf you’ll be on the wrong side of an ever-widening competitive gulf.
An organization oriented around acting faster means changing what information is gathered and how it’s shared, but crucially how quickly decisions are made. Doing that requires companies to change the actual structure of their organizations. This means new organization layouts as well as rethinking empowerment and authority at each level.
Status Quo is No Go
Some pioneering companies were built around optimizing product success, and other visionary ones have already re-oriented themselves. Yet it's a new art, and there are no standards and no one size fits all approach. It depends on the industry and the product types: Some have organized around product lifecycle, while others orient around the complete user experience, and others have created all new teams with hardware as the lead and software within that, and UX within software, etc. For your organization...
🟧 Rethink what inputs (sensors and signals) you need. Identify the best signals and how quickly they are available. Consider that the best signals are so granular that you will be able to remove some of today's steps today (such as months spent interpreting information and triangulating across vague signals).
🟧 Rethink who uses those signals and what their business needs are. Ensure that the right people see the right information at the right time. And ensure that information is easy to filter, easy to access and easy to share.
Move to More Complex
🟧 Change your organization structure to streamline information sharing. Specifically, find the right people and make sure they’re in the right chairs--including decision-makers and those that implement those decisions. Your structure should avoid silos but also avoid information overload.
🟧 Think about adding an agent of change. Agents of change are often brought in from the outside with the purpose of asking questions and changing processes and behaviors. But avoid the mistake of crippling your agent by failing to give them authority: Don’t point the artist at the canvas (the org chart) and give them a brush (their vision) but fail to give them the paint (authority or at least influence).
🟧 Increase accountability along the way. Accountability is a component of information sharing. Faster testing and validating are important, but as important is the product development record (stages of the product and a record of decisions along the way). That helps streamline future development efforts and unpacking issues.
🟧 Connect the dots to your core end goal. Some companies focus on the first sale, so are organized around product lifecycle: quick and successful roll-out of products to maximize market share and sales. Some focus more on the lifetime value of the customer (the repeat sale), so are organized around creating the ideal user experience to create loyalty and evangelists.
🟧Trust your decision makers. Now that you've put good people in the right places with the right tools, let them do their jobs. If you implement the other changes above, you'll still have speed and accountability.
Product Success KPIs
As companies product success processes become more "decision-agile"--from pre-launch research, to in-house refinement, to the commercial phase--they'll need to include key metrics to measure success. These may be independent of gains in market share or number of customers.
Product decisions in 50% less time
Product development times cut by 25%
Accountability of product lifecycle decisions up by 50%
Product lifecycle costs lower by 25%
Competitive intelligence gathered on a dynamic basis
These are lofty goals. If your company's product organizations are already optimizing, you may well on your way. If not, consider different ways to remove steps from the process, speed information sharing, and prioritize information gathered. And if you're ahead of the pack, don't rest on your laurels: the best disruptors know that there are other companies waiting in the wings to leapfrog them.
And not to say that golf course discussions are irrelevant. They're more valuable perhaps for broader, strategic discussions and fostering relationships.
John Moloney is the former Chief Commercial Officer at Bose Corporation's Automotive Division and earlier worked at Michelin and Bosch. He has decades of global experience and has led large scale transformations at multiple Tier One suppliers. He currently is an Advisor, Consultant and Executive Coach including on optimizing business structure for success.
Pulse Labs (https://pulselabs.ai/) is a pioneering business insights company that specializes in turning human factors analyses and behavioral information into actionable product success metrics for our customers. Our proprietary data processes mean speed and accuracy. Our Power Portal™️ ensures that decision-makers have quick and ongoing access to results to increase their competitiveness. Our customer set includes innovators such as leading technology platforms, top brands and government agencies. For more information, visit https://pulselabs.ai.