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Innovation and Portfolio Management: Wise Tips from the Wire

As event manager for the PIPELINE 2013 conference, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Kevin McFarthing. The word that comes to mind when I think of him is "enthusiastic" and I truly appreciate that he has been a wonderful supporter of PIPELINE and the innovation education it offers attendees. When you read Kevin's blogs, I think you'll find he also brings experience and wisdom to what he shares. And, as he is a frequent contributor to the Innovation Excellence blog, you may already be aware of all this. But in case you're not, I wanted to bring your attention to his latest contribution to the PIPELINE 2013 Wire: The Portfolio is the Pivotal Tool for Innovation Success

My favorite line is: Innovation needs creativity for great ideas, excellent execution in product and service development, strong external and internal communication, committed and capable people ‒‒ the portfolio is the tool that holds it all together. Of course, "How?" is likely the question that we are compelled to ask when reading that statement. Conveniently for us, he provides eight tips for effective and efficient portfolio management. Read more on the PIPELINE Wire.

Changing the Game with Innovation that Works

What to Expect at PIPELINE 2013 and Four Reasons to Attend

I am very excited to announce to all our Product Pulse readers that PIPELINE 2013 registration is open! This year's conference is all about "Changing the Game with Innovation that Works." As innovators, we know that inspiration is only a piece of the puzzle — and that's where PIPELINE comes in. Read the latest press releaseChanging the Game With Innovation.

Now in its fourth year — the online conference for innovative product development highlights innovation tools, techniques, and tangible takeaways shared by thought leaders, solution providers, and innovation practitioners. And for the first time, PIPELINE will feature several presentations in both German and English to appeal to its diverse and growing global audience. PIPELINE 2013 showcases keynote presentations:

  • Terry Jones, chairman of and founder /former CEO of will speak about Turning on Innovation in Your Culture — Teams and Organizations
  • Frans Johansson, innovation author and founder/CEO of the Medici Group will discuss The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World
  • Dr. Oliver Gassmann, innovation author and director of the Institute for Technology Management of the University of St. Gallen will speak about The Art and Science of Innovation (Presented in English and German)

PIPELINE 2013 will take place May 16th and opens at 4:30 AM CDT / 9:30 GMT with the first presentation kicking-off at 5:00 AM CDT /10:00 GMT followed by an assortment of informational and inspiring presentations running throughout the day. The conference will conclude at 2:30 PM CDT / 19:30 GMT so mark your calendars, select what you want to attend, and don't miss this extraordinary event.

Four reasons you should attend PIPELINE 2013:

  1. It's free to attend; no travel required.
  2. Connect and network with product leaders and innovators from organizations from all around the world!
  3. Get valuable insight and gain knowledge from PIPELINE's impressive lineup of speakers and sponsors.
  4. Leave the event feeling inspired and motivated and lead the innovation strategy within your organization.

As the host sponsor of PIPELINE, we will share conference updates and feature articles from PIPELINE speakers and sponsors, right here on Product Pulse. Read Kaylee Kolditz's article titled, Lighting the Way to a Brighter World Though Innovation at PIPELINE 2013 on the PIPELINE Buzz page. Want to know more about the event? Watch this video for a quick overview.

What are you looking forward to most at PIPELINE 2013? Share by leaving a comment below. I look forward to seeing you at the event.

An Interview with Carrie Nauyalis on the Stage-Gate Innovation Summit

The annual Stage-Gate® Innovation Summit 2013 recently wrapped up in Miami, leaving attendees with much to think about when it comes to implementing best practices around product development processes. The conference is directed by innovation champions from leading companies and promotes the sharing of ideas that enable immediate improvements in the gated process. Carrie Nauyalis, new product development solution evangelist, Planview, attended the conference for her fourth year and shares her experience with you, right here on Product Pulse.

Q: Having attended or sponsored the Stage-Gate Innovation Summit four times, what keeps you coming back?

Carrie: The Stage-Gate brand is known worldwide and there is so much depth under the methodology. The conference is an outlet for the experienced to share lessons learned with the newcomers trying to develop their process. I am always impressed with the culture of cooperation at the conference. Speakers reveal their best practices, and aren't ashamed to admit their mistakes and what they would do differently ‒‒ that's where the real benefit comes. I also appreciate the opportunity to speak with the presenters, collaborate with others to see how they are doing things, and meet people going through similar issues. You walk away inspired and enthused to get back and tweak your process.

Q: What types of people attended the conference this year?

Carrie: The conference is truly a span of people ranging from Stage-Gate newbies to companies with 10 years of Stage-Gate process under their belts. Everyone there is either a practitioner of Stage-Gate or the beneficiary of the process, meaning they may not directly use the process but they have teams of people under them who do. Both practitioners and beneficiaries glean valuable information based on their business initiatives.

Q: What presentations stood out for you this year?

Carrie: Chester Baker, head of global innovation at Abbott Nutrition, offered staggering statistics about ROI, which is critical when investing people and money in process development and portfolio management. When you consider the cost of paying gate keepers to take time out of their schedules to evaluate projects going to gate and all of the process managers chasing gate deliverables, you want to see returns. Chet illustrated that it's not just about implementation of Stage-Gate or a portfolio management solution like Planview Enterprise, but a collective innovation program with the goal of growing the company.

Of course, Scott Edgett, co-founder of Stage-Gate International, had some wicked-good stats of his own. He said that only one out of every nine concepts becomes a commercial success and 40% of a firm's product development resources go to losers; shocking! That's a lot of failed concepts that drained a lot of valuable resources ‒‒ and a lot of missed opportunities. I truly believe using technology like Planview's can increase the odds, reduce the number of resources applied to losers and increase the commercialization success of products. That's the stuff that gets me up in the morning.

Finally, Bruce Kerr, director of corporate innovation effectiveness at Corning, discussed the evolution of their gated process. He "got" that it's about continuous improvement versus a one-time fix; finding new ways to streamline the process and get better products to market faster. Interestingly, he was one of the only speakers who mentioned social media as part of their product development process. Social media can play a huge role in product development and more companies need to consider it.

Q: What were your key takeaways?

Carrie: 1) Continuous improvement in the Stage-Gate process is critical. You’re never "done." 2) Consumer-facing product companies have an opportunity to incorporate their brand into their Stage-Gate and portfolio processes. Marketing needs to get involved by incorporating brand information into the product development process and portfolio prioritization process. 3) The successful companies have automated their processes using commercialized applications, not spreadsheets. Spreadsheets aren't going to get you there.

To learn more about automating the Stage-Gate Process with Planview Enterprise download your copy of the Planview Enterprise is Certified Stage-Gate® Ready Solution Brief.

I'd like to hear from you. If you attended the Stage-Gate Innovation Summit, share some of the highlights that inspired you. If you didn't attend, what are some key takeaways you had at a product development or innovation conference this year? Share by leaving a comment below.

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!

Overheard at Optimizing Innovation NYC

I recently attended the Optimizing Innovation Conference in NYC as Planview was a sponsor. Initially, I was surprised that half of the attendees had traveled from Europe just for a two-day conference. Once the sessions began, I quickly understood their motivation. Speakers from Levi® Strauss, NASA, MTV Networks, Goodyear®, Mozilla, Kraft, and many other companies whose brands are household names offered insight into innovation challenges they've faced and the solutions they've discovered. The amount of transparency was truly impressive and the resulting discussions between participants around the tables matched the wisdom and honesty modeled by the speakers. I can't possibly sum up all that I learned in a blog (perhaps an article or a mini-novella is in order), but these quotes from attendees and speakers provide some valuable nuggets that will hopefully generate dialogue between you and your colleagues:

Optimizing Innovation Conference Introduction

  • "Celebrate doing, not perfection" and "Failure is not a word in our environment." Much discussion was had around how to create an innovation-friendly environment. Many attendees admitted that while lots of the ideas had merit, their organizations are risk-averse and cultural change is not easy to accomplish -- but without a doubt critical for breakthrough innovation.
  • "Genius lives in all of us." The concept that innovative genius is cultivated rather than a component to one's DNA that is either present or not was propagated by Karen Freidt of NASA. She shared techniques she utilizes in her classes for the agency's Enhancing Your Creative Genius course, which truly stirs up even the most reserved personality types as they discover an inner creative spirit.
  • "Copy and adapt with pride." Sometimes we only feel smart if we figure something out from scratch -- the result can be the old "reinventing the wheel" scenario. The sentiment recognizes that as so many great ideas and products already exist, quite often we just need to put our egos aside, learn from what already is and adapt it for our needs, goals, and market.
  • "Don't steal babies." To encourage everyone in your company to contribute to innovation ('cause you never know where that next great idea will come from), employees must trust that they will be allowed to participate in the development process. Speakers from Danone, Mattel®, Fisher-Price®, and Motorola Solutions shared their collaborative ideation programs (including processes and tools) and demonstrated viable ways to keep innovators connected to their ideas.
  • "By 2050 there'll be nine billion people on earth. We'll need three planets to provide enough resources unless we do something different soon." The impact of this statement was not lost to the participants in the room. There is a tremendous burden on today's companies not only to drive profits but to do so with a higher level of environmental responsibility than before. The need, however, is not just to develop products more responsibly but also to develop products that will solve problems.

The final speaker of the conference shared an approach to innovation that can give us all pause as we think about how we are solving problems. Live Well Collaborative is an innovation incubator that partners with the University of Cincinnati and member organizations to develop products and services to meet the needs of the 50+ population. This collaborative provides real-world experience for college students and utilizes their fresh perspective to come up with innovative solutions. Companies, such as Kraft and Boeing, leverage this opportunity to develop new ideas to real business and world challenges.

Citi Talk at Optimizing Innovation 2012

Spending two days with folks who are committed to finding solutions to not only their companies' business challenges but, in some cases, challenges our world is facing, was truly inspiring. I'm motivated to keep track of these companies and see how they continue to innovate and what fresh perspectives they bring to the process.

Do you have a fresh perspective on innovation? What problems are you looking to solve? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

The BIG Goals and the Important Details

Last month Planview sponsored Frost & Sullivan's GIL (Growth, Innovation and Leadership) Conference. I enjoyed this opportunity to meet some amazing innovators and gain insight into world-changing innovation. During general sessions, visions of self-driving cars, cures for cancers (including one discovered by 15-year-old Jack Andraka who spoke at the conference @jackandraka), and a complete revision of the current university system were cast along with compelling round-table discussions. During the breaks, however, conversations were grounded around how companies effectively conduct business to deliver these innovative products to market as well as how technology solutions enable innovation throughout the product pipeline.

Innovation at the 2012 GIL ConferenceThis attention to addressing business concerns was woven throughout GIL. For example, our networking sessions included a "speed-dating" style format, which enabled attendees to get to know sponsors and quickly identify those who can help them address challenges they're facing. The exhibit area focused on solutions to everyday business challenges, e.g. managing the pipeline, automating marketing, generating new ideas, connecting with the right buyers, etc. Breakout sessions (such as Carrie Nauyalis' Accelerating Speed to Market: Today's Real Competitive Advantage), provided opportunities for attendees to dig into specific business challenges and interact with speakers and fellow participants to identify tangible ways to address them. Carrie's session was particularly interactive, with participants marking up flip chart paper with the challenges they face at various points in the product development pipeline and solutions they've implemented. This collaborative approach is a great way to get folks connected and also to share real-life lessons learned.

The GIL conference accomplished exactly what I think it set out to do: think big while connecting with the parts, pieces, and people necessary to achieve those lofty goals. For me, I met some terrific folks and the dialogues continue. And as I attend other conferences this fall, I look forward to seeing the variety of perspectives shared around what innovation is and how product developers address the challenges inherent to bringing innovative products to market.

Share your experiences and lessons learned from the product conferences you're attending by leaving a comment below.

PIPELINE 2012: A Virtual Trip Around the Globe with Product Developers and Innovation Leaders

Reflecting on PIPELINE 2012 I am truly impressed by several things:

  • The amazing speakers
    The feedback we're receiving indicates that I am not alone appreciation of the quality of the innovators, scholars, authors, and product development practitioners who took the time to participate in PIPELINE 2012 -- sharing insights and research to benefit all of our attendees. If you missed them, be sure to check out the conference on demand …it is well worth your time!

  • The attendees
    At one point in the conference, I was chatting with someone from Egypt, someone from Malaysia, and folks in the U.S. And the email communications I received (pre- and post-show) from around the globe were so encouraging. I truly appreciated the feedback and the interest we got from folks in Australia, Brazil, the US, Croatia -- literally around the world! And I was so impressed by the representation of hundreds of companies from across numerous verticals -- many with names you'd easily recognize and others who are filling a niche market -- all with a desire to network with and learn from each other!

  • Our event sponsors
    This may seem like I'm kissing up to them, but truly they deserve our appreciation. Our sponsors partnered with us to communicate the significance of this event to their audience and brought additional value to the conference through the information and materials they provided. If you visited the Exhibit Hall and Innovation Library, you know what I'm talking about. And the knowledge they shared in the breakout sessions will continue to benefit those who visit time again and again.

  • The PIPELINE 2012 team
    I had the privilege to work with colleagues who rearranged their lives to travel across the US and overseas. Their efforts provided us all with access to relevant, compelling, and valuable material appropriate for a global audience of innovative product development folks in a variety of roles and from a myriad of companies. What's more, this team committed their time and expertise to ensure that we maximized the virtual platform so that we provided a dynamic, interactive experience that would deliver huge value to attendees.

It is the collaboration of all of these individuals and companies that made PIPELINE 2012 a success. More than 800 of you participated in the live event. And, we anticipate that many more of you will take advantage of the on-demand conference that is available through Aug. 10th. Visit today and often as possible to take advantage of the inspiring and informative general sessions as well as the helpful materials throughout the Innovation Library and Exhibition Hall.

Now onto planning PIPELINE 2013! I would love to hear from you. Do you have any speaker suggestions? Are you interested in sponsoring? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Winning in an Uncertain World

Written by Don Creswell, SmartOrg, Inc.

Don Creswell

40% to 75% of New Products Fail -- How to Improve Your Odds of Winning!

Innovation and new product development are risky. 40% to 75% of new products fail. This is not because people make dumb decisions; it's the nature of things when you face an uncertain future. Think about it. If you could consistently produce winners (products that meet revenue and profit forecasts) you would be very rich. The good news is that you can improve the odds of winning.

First, recognize that there will be a number of factors, like market size, market share, price and such that may be very uncertain. You can identify these using a technique called "sensitivity analysis" that identifies the impact of uncertainty on each variable in your business model. Experience shows that only three to four variables will account for 90% of the impact of uncertainty on your project's net present value. By focusing resources on these variables, you will avoid wasting time and effort on things that do not matter.

Second, success will come from assembling these carefully evaluated projects into a portfolio that compares projects based on the probability that you can successfully "pull it off" and, if you can pull it off, what the project is worth. A well-balanced portfolio will have some "sure things", but will also have a group of risky projects that, if successful, can be blockbusters.

Why a portfolio? Early on you cannot, as noted above, consistently identify individual winners. In your portfolio, some will lose and others will win; in the aggregate you will come out ahead.

In a recent white paper by Tech-Clarity, author Jim Brown introduced the subject of Advanced PPM to differentiate the use of enhanced analytics such as those described above, to provide deeper analysis of the economics and risks and uncertainties where subjective approaches like scoring rules, scorecards and questionnaires are not adequate. You can download a reprint of this white paper to learn more.

To delve deeper into this discussion, join me at PIPELINE 2012, the Online Conference for Innovative Product Development on May 10th. My Breakout Session "Winning in an Uncertain World" will provide insights to help you improve the odds of winning using the tools of Advanced PPM -- taking project and portfolio evaluation beyond scoring rules, questionnaires and other subjective methods. You can also learn more from Jim Brown who will participate in a panel discussion with Bill Poston, Managing Partner, Kalypso, and Carrie Nauyalis, Solutions Marketing Manager, Planview.

For additional information:

Why PIPELINE 2012 is the Place to Be

As I check TweetDeck again and again to see who's posting what about PIPELINE 2012 at #PL12, I acknowledge that I'm excited about this conference. Admittedly, it's good that I'm jazzed as I'm the event manager. But my job is to help you be excited and, honestly, I believe that will be a very easy task. I have two convincing points to "sell" my case:

PIPELINE 20121. PIPELINE 2012 is online, easy to attend and it's free. In my experience, in addition to being convenient and cost-effective, virtual events can be dynamic and fun. If you haven't attended one yet let me paint the picture for you: imagine a recent event you've attended in person and visualize seeing that on your computer while you remain comfortably in your office with your coffee mug in hand. That is what amazes me about virtual environments -- you enter a main lobby; you can see the other participants online; you can step into the networking lounge to chat with colleagues, speakers, and attendees; enter the exhibit hall and check out the sponsor areas -- each contains all the features of a physical booth. As a booth rep greets you, you download your collateral, (no more hassle with papers falling out of your arms as you maneuver through crowds at a physical event) and watch videos. And you won't want to miss the highlight of PIPELINE -- enter the auditorium where you'll have live access to presentations by best-selling authors, innovation experts, scholars and industry leaders.

This takes me to my second point.

2. PIPELINE is THE online conference for product leaders to gather knowledge, network and get inspired to innovate! The knowledge-sharing opportunity of this conference, I believe in many ways surpasses the average physical trade show. From the scheduled chats with speakers and sponsors to general sessions with live Q&A -- you will have ample opportunity to discover new ways innovation can drive your product pipeline. And, as an added bonus, the conference is available online for 90 days so you can stop back to view presentations any time.

Our lineup of speakers this year is sure to impress -- from authors and experts on innovation such as, Jeff Dyer and Jeff DeGraff; to professionals who've had to walk-the-talk on the job like Mona Mohan from Ghirardelli; to breakout sessions from industry leaders like Kalypso, IBM Rational, and SmartOrg. I've had the opportunity to speak with the presenters and I am jazzed to hear their unique perspectives on May 10th! As the host sponsor, Planview is particularly excited to share the results of the 3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Survey during the conference. These results will reveal the top pain points product developers are facing and how they are (or are not) addressing them. You're going to want to hear what your peers shared!

If you're not excited now, I'm afraid I must check your pulse. PIPELINE 2012 will be THE place to be if you're a product leader and want to connect with innovation in whole new ways! You can learn more and sign up for your free spot on the PIPELINE 2012 website. So mark your calendar for May 10th, get your coffee in hand, and join us online. See you there!

Reach More Customers with a Virtual Product Launch Event

Planview just finished our 2012 Product Expo introducing Planview Enterprise 10.4 -- and we did it virtually. Here's what we have found to be great about virtual product launch events:

  1. We are able to get more customers and prospects to attend at a global level. They can participate from their office -- all they need is an Internet connection.
  2. We can control the content so attendees receive comprehensive, product-focused information that not only drives product adoption but also reinforces your brand.
  3. Presentations and demos are available to attendees for 90 days so they can share it with their teams and watch on-demand.

2012 Planview Product Expo Command Central
2012 Planview Product Expo Command Central

Selfishly, I will add a fourth benefit. From Command Central, I was easily able see all the booth representatives interacting live with customers from around the world. I love that part! Our customers drive our products so it's very exciting to read live commentary. Booth experts were able to respond instantly to questions about product functionality and enhancements while simultaneously continuing to strengthen a positive level of partnership with customers.

Why Host Virtually?

Two years ago, we found that our typical approach of emails and webcasts were no longer creating the desired impact and awareness we needed to communicate a global product launch with new market positioning. With only 100 customers able to attend the last launch webcast series, we needed a better way to engage more of our client base, strategically position our overall solution, and provide customers an opportunity to demo specific product functionality. Traditional methods were not working and physical events were logistically impossible for most customers.

Building on our experience with hosting a virtual User Conference in Nov 2009, we partnered with Intercall (formerly Unisfair) to help us build an interactive product launch experience for our customers. The virtual platform recreates a physical event down to the smallest detail, with presentations, live Q&As, demos, Meet the Expert sessions, and chat rooms. We set up the virtual environment to deliver three levels of content and customers could choose how deep they want to dive on any specific capability.

The three levels of content include:

  1. Overview of product release with featured presentations and live Q&A
  2. Expo Hall with virtual booths that contained what's new by solution areas and access to the Product Team via chats
  3. Customer area with representatives and release information, interactive release notes, migration planning, customer support, and enablement programs

Product Development Booth at the 2012 Planview Product Expo
Product Development Booth at the 2012 Planview Product Expo

While going virtual helped us increase launch participation by 400%, it isn't for the faint of heart. Planning a virtual event takes every bit of effort as other options, if not more.

It takes a team of dedicated staff to organize deliverables, drive people to meet deadlines, pre-record content, and communicate regularly with attendees. But patience is key. We have seen about half of the registrations come in within 48 hours of the event go-live date.

But the outcome is well worth the effort. Hosting a virtual event is a contemporary approach to communicating your corporate initiatives to key stakeholders worldwide. Customers, prospects, partners, and analysts benefit from the rich, targeted content and one-on-one conversations with subject matter experts. You have the ability to set the stage and create a dialog around product capabilities and corporate messaging while educating the audience on a variety of product offerings for future implementation.

I'd like to hear from you. What are some of your experiences and best practices for product launch communications and what are your experiences hosting virtual events? Post a comment below.