Pursuit: Applying product development strategies to your life

Divya Pahwa writes about young-lady career advice in the weekly series Pursuit, here on the McGill Caps Blog.

Gary S. Lynn and Richar R. Reilly published Blockbusters: The Five Keys to Developing Great New Products highlighting their findings of successful new products in 2003.

These are their ‘five keys’:
(1) Commitment not contribution of senior management
(2) Clear and stable vision
(3) Improvisation
(4) Information exchange
(5) Collaboration under pressure

Teams that developed blockbuster products excelled at each of these.

After I read their book, I kept trying to rationalize how to apply them in life – you know to create Blockbuster versions of ourselves? (I know exactly how cheesy that sounds, bear with me). There has to be secret lady advice hidden within these elements! This is what I came up with….

1. Commitment not contribution by senior management

Replace senior management with whomever you look up to and/or anyone that has or does play an authority figure in your life. Mentors, parents, professors, and friends, all of the above and more. Having these figures in our life are important, though, they cannot dictate our decisions nor should they mitigate what our gut/heart is telling us. In my life these are my parents and  their values and  opinions. My parents are definitely (almost always) the second factor I consider when making a decisions that involves a lot of contemplation.

2. Clear and stable vision

I am currently hung up on this idea I read elsewhere of developing a grand strategy for your life. Not a big tangible goal or dream. But a strategy. Something like, “living with meaning, contributing to society, and investing in warm fulfilling relationships” or something like, “finding meaningful work that allows me to put my family first.”   I think there’s a number of ways to figure out your own strategy: turning to religion, seriously thinking about  the core reasons of your ambitions, looking at the qualities you admire in other people, are a few that come to my mind.

3. Improvisation

Yes plan. Please plan. I wrote a lot about planning and how I really like planning and that I really like people that advocate planning earlier this year (see: Pursuit: 5 awesome pieces of advice and Pursuit: Be the expert what do you think about these rules?) I always thought I was an obsessive planner – that is till I met my good friend Katherine who takes this to a whole new level. Strategy and planning gives my life direction and not the other way around. HOWEVER, I think for the excessive planners amongst us, we need to take a lesson from SCIENCE. I remember 7 years ago sometime during chemistry, physics, or math in high school I was adding a variable that factored in randomness in the equation (someone want to help me out?). I think this applies in life too!! We need spontaneity.  Though, this is definitely a “key” I am not excelling at.

4. Information Exchange

My interpretation of this particular new product development key is to ensure that learning helps us  become better versions of ourselves. That is, we are always exchanging information: daily pleasantries, writing papers,  reading the news,  making speeches, listening to speeches etc. We’re giving or getting advice/opinions/stories from a number of different outlets. And lately everyone’s going on and on about the information overload on our generation. Be highly selective and diversified in the information (…and people….) you choose to expose yourself too. And if you’re not sure – ask, how does this (book/film/person) make me a better version of myself?

*Don’t get super hung up on the ‘people’ aspect, if a friendship is helping you practice kindness and empathy – well I’d say that’s making you a better version of yourself.

5. Collaboration under pressure

Lynn and Reilly noted in all of their case studies how the N.P.D teams wanted to create Blockbuster products. There was this crazy drive amongst all these successful teams to get the necessary and uncomfortable stuff done in order to get there. I think in order to become Blockbuster versions of ourselves, there is some necessity to exercise maniacal focus.

Send in your questions/suggestion to Divya at divya.pahwa@mail.mcgill. See her past posts here.

image from: parry.co.uk

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