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  1. “Just Like Riding a Bike”: Generating Breakthrough Results in Product Development (Part One of Two) Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-29

    In this interview, consultant Peter Blake discusses a compelling set of distinctions for producing breakthrough results in R&D teams. Blake and his colleagues observed that providing advice, processes, project plans, and so forth, did little to impact operational effectiveness or produce results. They began to discover that information, or what we know, is only one dimension of effectiveness in business. They distinguished between two different skill sets: conceptual skills, which we learn from books or at school, and another domain of skills that cannot be transferred through conceptual means. “Think of learning to ride a bicycle,” says Blake, “You could read all the books on bicycling, and yet you'd have to get on the bike and wriggle around a bit and fall down a few times in order to actually 'get' this thing called balance.” In the first part of this interview, Peter Blake sets out the basic concepts involved in this second domain of skills and suggests how they can be leveraged to produce breakthrough results in R&D. (7 pages)

  2. The Cross-Functional Myth Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-29

    Interpreting a twenty-year study of ten large European and American pharmaceutical firms, representing 25 percent of R&D in that industry worldwide, Rebecca Henderson concluded that, in addition to their considerable strengths, team-based operations bring serious weaknesses. She found that teams can generate role and responsibility confusion; that most firms have a shortage of effective project leaders; that teams tend to proliferate almost uncontrollably;and that they degrade functional skills, particularly insofar as organizations tend to put their best people on teams. The research showed that the most important success factor was luck, followed by great people, a good strategy, and effective organization. And when it comes to organization, most successful firms maintain a dynamic tension between well-tended functional groups and equally strong cross-functionality. (3 pages)

  3. “Just Like Riding a Bike”: Generating Breakthrough Results in Product Development (Part Two of Two) Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-29

    In the first part of this interview, consultant Peter Blake presented an approach to product development based on maximizing teams' communications capabilities. Blake spoke of leading development teams as a series of conversations, which, when kept distinct and managed effectively, greatly accelerate lead times and increase innovation. In part two of this interview, Blake is joined by Bob Smith, a former Senior Vice President of Nabisco R&D, to discuss a successful application of this approach at Nabisco. (6 pages)

  4. Why Co-location Works Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-11

    It is easy to get enthusiastic about the great improvements in team communications that technology has brought us. However, argues product development expert Don Reinertsen, this enthusiasm should not blind us to a fundamental truth of product development: Co-location works. Reinsertsen claims that co-location consistently produces astonishing improvements in team performance. Says Reinertsen, “I’ve surveyed thousands of product developers over the last 20 years without finding a single veteran of co-location who fails to recognize its power.” In this feature article, Reinertsen presents eight reasons why co-location works. He argues that co-location enhances the right kind of communication, while increasing team cohesion and interdependence. (3 pages)

  5. What Helps Product Development Teams Learn Faster? Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-11

    A study of accelerated learning in more than one hundred product development teams indicates that teams that learn faster develop products faster – and more successfully. The empirical research also suggests that starting out with a clear vision, gathering information from customers and competitors, and coding and organizing that information in a shared database, are practices associated with rapid learning in product development teams. The study establishes an empirical basis for operationalizing the vision of "the learning organization." (6 pages)

  6. Phoenix Teams Discover Profitable Concepts at Fluke (Part One of Two) Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-11

    In the early 1990s, some frustrated middle managers at Fluke Corporation, a maker of electronic test and measurement tools, proposed to senior management a radical idea for how to create profitable, new product concepts: Phoenix teams. A Phoenix team is a group charged with creating quick action in a sector aligned with the corporate mission. These small (no more than eight members), ad hoc, cross-functional task teams were given a $100,000 budget and 100 days and told to come up with new growth opportunities. Once a Phoenix team develops and sells the business case for a concept, team members provide the core that carries the concept all the way through development. Products that have arisen from these Phoenix teams have been among the most successful at Fluke. In this interview (the first of a two-part series), Fluke’s Gary Kirchberger discusses the origin, development, and function of the Phoenix teams. (5 pages)

  7. Listening to the Way Teams Talk to Improve Performance: A Conversation with Anne Donnellon Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-11

    Babson College management professor Anne Donnellon spent several years studying product development teams, to find out why so many organizations find cross-functional teamwork so challenging. Donnellon focused on the interplay between organizational context and how team members talk to each other. Donnellon found that the essence of real teamwork is interdependence; members of successful teams genuinely depend on each other to accomplish mutual goals. Teams that have willingly accepted their interdependence identify with the task they share – and identify with one another. (5 pages)

  8. Best Practices For Virtual Teamwork: An Interview with Dr. Jaclyn Kostner Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-11

    Around the water cooler, teams enjoy the type of communication that is unique to face-to-face exchanges. Virtual teams cannot duplicate that particular synergy, but they can create another type of synergy that generates very effective teamwork with high levels of personal commitment. Dr. Jaclyn Kostner, author of the book Virtual Leadership: Secrets from the Round Table for the Multi-Site Manager, has been working with virtual teams for more than a decade. In this interview, Kostner provides an overview of best practices for building trust, accelerating collaboration and generating better results from dispersed teams. (5 pages)

  9. Bristol-Myers Squibb Shifts Process and Culture to Facilitate Blockbuster Drug Development Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-11

    Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pharmaceutical Research Institute (PRI) had an aggressive goal of developing three blockbuster drugs each year.(A blockbuster drug is defined as a product with sales in excess of one billion dollars per year.) In order to achieve this goal, PRI initiated a series of changes in its processes, its organizational structure and its culture. These changes were aimed at developing a more innovative, entrepreneurial environment. PRI is accomplishing this by breaking down the functional silos and increasing the integration, communication and flow of information between traditionally disparate functions and groups. Specifically, these changes include, among others, re-designing the end-to-end drug discovery and development processes, revamping its system of rewards and recognitions, and rotating work assignments. (6 pages)

  10. Boeing Company Employs Radical Virtual Team Concept to Create a Breakthrough Innovation Locked

    Research | Posted: 2004-06-11

    Rocketdyne Propulsion and Power, a business of the Boeing Company, developed an innovative rocket engine using a groundbreaking model for managing product development projects. Faced with stringent cost, time and performance requirements, Rocketdyne reached beyond the company’s walls to assemble a virtual team composed of world-class professionals focused on a key set of core competencies. The team transcended the boundaries between disciplines and companies, to create one of the first two, new, liquid-fueled rocket engines in the United States in over 25 years. This pilot project demonstrates the viability of an emerging paradigm for collaboration and product innovation. (7 pages)

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