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2 - D A Y  W O R K S H O P
Flexible Product Development:
Techniques for Thriving in Fast-Moving and Uncertain Markets

 Dates & Location:
 August 8-9, 2006
/ Chicago, IL


Change is a natural part of new product innovation. However, the processes and techniques that management commonly uses to develop products (Six Sigma, Stage-Gate®, and traditional project management, for instance) are not designed to facilitate change. Instead, they encourage heavy upfront planning and reward sticking to plan. Rather than resisting or denying change, why not build systems that embrace it?

This workshop shows you how to build such flexible product development systems. It applies principles from the successful recent model of agile software development, although most of the agile software tools do not translate to non-software products directly.

This topic is most timely. In these highly competitive times, pressures to get the most out of product development resources have pushed managers to structure their development so that it is predictable and to do everything right the first time to eliminate waste. Unfortunately, the same competitive pressures cause customers to change their minds and competitors to do unpredictable things while new technologies appear or do not work as advertised. That is, change happens.

The most successful new products are ones that exploit these changes. These products are truly new, and they excite customers. Developers who really listen to their customers and modify designs based on feedback from initial prototypes will face change. Those who opt to push new technologies will have to make changes as they go.

Consequently, this workshop starts from what will make a winning product—change—and proceeds to build development processes that can accommodate such change, even when it occurs relatively late in the development process, with tolerable disruption.

We will explore several categories of tools to enhance flexibility. We explain each tool and consider its strengths and limitations. Then we turn to a case study that runs for the length of the workshop, where we apply the tool to the case study project to gain essential hands-on practice in applying it. You will see not only how you apply the tool, but how others, working independently, apply it too.