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Research & Publications

Research & Publications is a growing collection of case studies, presentations, research reports and other resources focusing on product development, R&D, and innovation management.  These concise reports provide practitioner insights, company examples, benchmarks and thought-leading viewpoints. 

MRT's FastTrack is the leading network of industry practitioners responsible for new product development, technology development, and business development from all industries. Access to the full content of the following articles is for members of Management Roundtable FastTrack. Memberships are offered to individuals on an annual basis for just $495.  For more information on joining FastTrack click here.

To see all the material available in this knowledge repository, use the search engine, click on focus topic, or see our most recent updates below.

A Capacity-Based Governance Method for Improving Engineering Performance: Audio Session Summary Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-02-05

Related Links: Audio | Transcript (19 pages) | Slides(24 slides)In this audio session, Ross Seider, a senior partner of On-Fire Associates describes a visual, spreadsheet-based model for capacity governance that looks at capacity planning from the standpoint of the complete project portfolio. This capacity management process creates a visualization that allows participants to prioritize activities, allocate resources, and evaluate shifting resources. Eventually, the participants in this process agree on the drawing of two horizontal lines on the visual model that distinguish between high priority projects, which are likely to be fully funded, a second level of partially-funded projects, and projects that will not be given resources during the planning horizon. This process is owned by engineering and product management; it encourages participation from all other groups in the development chain and from other stakeholders; it runs periodically; it is very efficient in terms of management time sinceit is performedmultiple times per year; it is a distributed process that expects subject matter experts to make 80 percentof the decisions and focuses senior management on the boundary conditions where there are conflicts. Finally, it is a zero-based activity – each project must re-certify its importance to the company relative to all other projects and potential projects at every iteration. (10 pages)

A Capacity-Based Governance Method for Improving Engineering Performance -- Presentation Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-02-05

Presentation for the audio session, "A Capacity-Based Governance Method for Improving Engineering Performance," January 24, 2007.

Must Changing Priorities Always Hurt? Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-02-02

By Don Reinertsen, Reinertsen & Associates “Almost every product developer confronts the challenge of changing priorities,” observes product development expert Don Reinertsen. “Some of these priority shifts are warranted, but others are quite unnecessary.” In this article, Reinertsen posits that unnecessary shifts in priorities occur for two major reasons. One reason has to do with how priorities are established and how they are communicated throughout the broader organization. When priorities are grounded upon a foundation of mere personal preference they are more likely to shift. The other major cause of unnecessary changes in priorities is grounded in the development process itself. “Just as the way we operate a factory makes it more or less responsive to shifts in demand, the way we operate a development process can increase the likelihood of priority shifts,” writes Reinertsen. He provides a brief discussion of each of these two issues and suggests high-level solutions to both challenges. (3 pages)

Interface Inc. Builds Environmental Sustainability into its Product Strategy: not Philanthropy or Altruism but Competition Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-01-26

Interface, Inc., a leader in the interior furnishings industry, builds its focus on the environment into its products and processes, allowing the company to shave waste and develop more innovative products. For Interface, the key word is sustainability, which entails measuring the benefits of its business decisions against their potential costs to earnings and to the environmental and social systems which its products affect. A multi-year effort culminated in the creation of a series of metrics around sustainability. These metrics dovetail with the program the company refers to as its Seven Fronts of Sustainability. These seven involve such issues as eliminating waste, reducing harmful emmissions, using renewable energy and encouraging resource-efficient transportation of its products. The company also has a tool for assessing the environmental impact of its products over their entire life cycle. Interface carefully screens the raw materials it allows its designers to use and partners with suppliers to gather the data it needs to make better decisions for the environment. An underlying principle in Interface’s sustainability strategy is to imitate nature’s own solutions to the challenges it faces. Interface has discovered that ‘green’ is not only politically correct– it’s also good business. (7 pages)

The Synergy Challenge – Ten Key Acquisition Lessons Learned: The Case of Mercury Computer Systems and Myriad Logic Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-01-19

By Bob Becker In this feature article, a former Senior Vice President at Mercury Computer Systems outlines what went right and what went wrong with a key acquisition. A major part of the challenge had to do with R&D investment in the acquired company. Writes Becker, “All the corporate norms and systems for how investment funds were allocated were stacked against adding dollars for R&D; those R&D dollars were needed to evolve the product family – to either grow it as a business or achieve some of the strategic goals by working on new products with the rest of the corporation.” Before the savings from merging the manufacturing operations were realized, low R&D investment had turned the acquired organization into a sustaining engineering group, unable to add much value in the form of innovative new products. Overall, Becker reports that well-intentioned choices with respect to the acquired entity caused the operation to become out of sync with the core strategy, frustrating the workforce and leadership alike with a lack of clarity and inconsistent direction. The result was that people and assets related to the acquired entity became some of the first jettisoned when times got tough. (5 pages)

Innovate Like Edison: Presentation Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-01-17

Presentation for the audio session "Innovate Like Edison," September 13, 2006.

Open in Innovation: Presentation Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-01-17

Presentation for the the audio session "Open Innovation in China," October 16, 2006.

Using Queuing Theory and Smaller Batch Sizes to Reduce Cycle Time Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-01-12

A presentation by Jeff H. Coult, Senior Technical Manager, Honeywell AerospaceThis presentation examines two examples of the application of Lean principles to product development at Honeywell Aerospace. When faced with a bottleneck in its CAD group, Honeywell Aerospace discovered that there was little to be gained through improving its process – the issue was the queue going into the CAD group. To understand the problem more fully, the group examined a few key programs and estimated the lost sales opportunity created by the large queue – one of which amounted to about $1.5 million per month. Says Honeywell’s Jeff Coult, “The lost opportunity for that one program was enough to justify the added cost of bringing in contract help to work down the queue.” Honeywell Aerospace eventually added one full-time person to the CAD group and developed relationships with contract houses to provide temporary help as needed. The result was the elimination of the queue, the stabilization of the workload and an increase in customer satisfaction. The second example from Honeywell Aerospace addressed the concept of small batch sizes. By divided up its qualification testing into smaller “batches,” and performing these smaller test batches earlier in the process, the company was able to shave two weeks off of the qualification testing cycle. (11 Pages)

Design for Uncertainty: Audio Session Transcript Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-01-04

Transcript for the Audio Session "Design for Uncertainty," 07/12/06.

Design for Uncertainty: Presentation Locked

Research | Posted: 2007-01-04

Presentation slides for the audio session "Design for Uncertainty," 07/12/06

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