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January 2013

Innovators: What Enables You to See Things Differently?

Can We Create Innovations That Change the Game If We're Not Always Questioning Today's Answers?

As we plan for PIPELINE 2013, I'm actively researching innovation topics and authors. This year, we again seek to engage visionary speakers, but also ensure that attendees receive practical guidance for implementing processes and techniques to deliver innovation that truly changes the game. To that end, we are delving into what innovations have changed the game and how they came about. We are finding that innovation is sometimes an accident, sometimes perseverance, often long, hard work, and occasionally true brilliance; but always one must be willing to see something in a different, new way.

Jack AndrakaToday I am again inspired by a 15-year-old innovator who will save lives. I had the pleasure of meeting this young man at Frost & Sullivan's GIL conference last fall and just read another article about his mind-boggling story. Jack Andraka and his family lost a friend to pancreatic cancer and it struck him that in a society as advanced as the U.S. there should not be a disease that kills 96% of its victims within 5 years. He chose to look at the situation differently; to ask questions that hadn't been asked because he refused to believe that the right answers had been found. At 15, while daydreaming in science class, an answer came to him and he subsequently developed what turns out to be a very simple and inexpensive dip-stick test to detect the cancer very early on. What's more, this test may not only save the lives of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but it may also be used to identify other diseases as well. (Read more on the Take Part Website.)

As I look into different approaches for innovation, Jack's story makes me wonder: What problems do we assume already have the best solutions we're able to find? What questions are we not asking? And what motivates us to refuse to accept things as they are and to not take "no" for an answer? By the way, when soliciting research labs for space to develop his concept, Jack was rejected by 197 of them. Would you be motivated to call lab #198? Good thing Jack was!

Top Innovation and Product Development Resources of 2012

Revisiting Wisdom from Analysts, Thought Leaders, and Practitioners

Happy New Year! As we kick off 2013, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the most popular innovation and portfolio management resources of 2012. These whitepapers and Webcasts feature analysts, thought leaders, and practitioners sharing their wisdom and experience to help us make better, more informed decisions and optimize our limited resources.

Here are five most widely read (and viewed) resources:

  1. PDF: Issue in Focus: Meeting Fixed Product Launch Windows, Managing Portfolios When Time to Market is Non-Negotiable
    In this research report, Jim Brown, president of Tech-Clarity, addresses the critical nature of hitting launch windows and provides insight from successful companies as well as tips for improving the odds of success.
  2. Video / webcast: On-Demand Webcast: Building and Managing an Innovation Portfolio
    Hosted by best-selling business author Jerry Manas, featuring Chip Gliedman, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research, Inc. and Carrie Nauyalis, NPD solution market manager, Planview, this webcast provides insights to help you build and manage your innovation portfolio.
  3. PDF: Ten Proven Military Strategies For Better Resource Planning: Avoiding Custer's Last Stand
    This latest whitepaper from Jerry Manas explores 10 timeless military strategies ‒‒ tried and tested over thousands of years ‒‒ that can be effectively applied toward modern day resource planning.
  4. Video / webcast: On-Demand Webcast: How Technology-Enabled Visibility Lets You Prioritize Products and Optimize Resources
    Find out how product portfolio management (PPM) technology enables organizations to optimize their limited people and financial resources to achieve their product delivery objectives. Featuring Planview, Isabel SA, and Frost & Sullivan.
  5. PDF: The 3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study
    With input from more than 1000 product development executives and managers over the last three surveys, this report provides insightful statistics and informative data on the state of product portfolio management along with thought-provoking recommendations for all product development organizations.

Continue the Conversation Online

We're actively engaged in social media connecting product developers and practitioners to the latest news and information in innovation and product portfolio management. Join the conversation by:

Are there other materials that provided you important guidance in 2012? Please use the comment section below to share your favorite white papers, Webcasts, blogs, etc.

Optimizing Resources in Product Development

10 Historically Proven Military Strategies that You Can Apply in Your Product Organization

"From Sun Tzu's 13 principles to Napoleon's 115 maxims, to the countless other [military] strategies, there are hidden gems of resource management advice that are as relevant today as they were back then."

After reading this statement in Jerry Manas' most recent blog, I was excited that he boiled those many strategies down to just 10 for quicker consumption and easier application.

According to 3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study, nearly 70% of organizations reported "too many projects for their resources" as their top pain point. As the need for some tested and proven resource capacity strategies is clearly in order, Jerry's words of wisdom, previously posted in Portfolio Perspectives, is spot-on for product development. It offers food for thought about how to optimize resources and I am happy to share it here on The Product Pulse.

Optimizing Your Resources: Learn from the Military

Written by Jerry Manas

10 Proven Military Strategies for Better Resource Management: Avoiding Custer's Last StandNow more than ever, organizations are asked to do more with less. Pressures mount, competition is building, and there seems to never be enough resources to tackle what needs to be done. Then, when resources are finally allocated to strategic work, the work ends up getting delayed because the people are pulled off on emergencies, managers' pet projects, and other interruptions.

The industrial age only took root in the 19th century, and the formal organizational structures we know and love didn't begin until the 20th century. And resource management hasn't evolved much since then except for matrix reporting and project-based work, which are fairly recent concepts.

But there is a place we can turn to for advice. Military strategy has been around for thousands of years, at least as far back as Sun Tzu (500 BC), and through the ages of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Hannibal, Napoleon, and on to the present day ‒‒ each commander learning from and building upon the principles that came before.

Many of these principles deal with the effective use of limited resources. Business leaders can look to these principles to solve what is arguably their #1 problem: resource constraints.

From Sun Tzu's 13 principles to Napoleon's 115 maxims, to the countless other strategies, there are hidden gems of resource management advice that is as relevant today as they were back then.

"There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white, and black), yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.

There are not more than five cardinal tastes (sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter), yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted."

It is the same with strategies and tactics; a select few principles can be used in countless combinations and variations.

Napoleon knew this all too well and is often cited as the greatest military strategist in history, despite his notable losses at Waterloo and Russia. His principles gave birth to many of today's most commonly used military strategies.

There are countless other military principles that apply to resource management as well. In looking through them, and in the spirit of Sun Tzu's simplicity, I've narrowed thousands of years of principles and maxims down to what I feel are the ten core strategies directly applicable to resource management that can be used in a multitude of combinations. From "Economy of Force" to "Concentration of Force" to "Divide and Conquer," these strategies, when understood correctly, are powerful ways to optimize your resources.

Download Jerry's new white paper, 10 Proven Military Strategies for Better Resource Management: Avoiding Custer's Last Stand.

We'd love to hear your thoughts. Is your organization struggling with making the most effective use of limited resources across major projects, minor work efforts, and ongoing support and "keep the lights on" work? Once you read the white paper, let us know which strategy(s) you are currently employing, or have decided to try, and which are most useful. Are there other strategies not listed that you've used with success?