Stage 3: Research

Primary findings

Secondary findings

Primary findings

Barriers

Placing creative people in NPD roles as analysts without providing them with proper training and coaching in disciplined NPD processes is only getting it half-right and likely destroy value rather than creating it. Forcing business discipline on the creative mind is a necessary element to consider.
Interview Survey. Study of 69 analysts evaluating 267 early-stage NPD projects.
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Carriers

Early stages of NPD require creativity because early ideation requires revision through branching thought processes. Identify people with high levels of creativity (reliably measured with standard instruments), and train them the Stage-Gate methods. The overall speed and productivity of typical NPD processes can be increased nine-fold over standard activity by people with low levels of creativity. Forcing business discipline on the creative mind is a key combination.
Interview survey. Study of 69 analysts evaluating 267 early-stage NPD projects.
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Three elements that did not appear on any academic NPD plans appeared on all five corporate NPD plans: 1) Define the market and its growth potential; 2) Actual versus planned cost evaluation; 3) Determining of changing customer needs/market requirements. Perhaps the Technology Transfer Offices (TTO's) could support academic inventors by providing these elements. In fact, 51% of TTO's support #1, 10% support #3 but none support #2 at present.
Eleven structured interviews involving five academics, five corporate and one hybrid approach, where each mapped their individual approach to NPD drawing from a set of Stage and Step activities.
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Models

Consider adopting the NexGen Stage-Gate process, where the NPD process has been streamlined by removing all the non-value added activites. This NexGen process is also more flexible and adaptable, where steps and stages overlap.
Authors' research experience. This new process has been borrowed from lean manufacturing.
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Pre-Development Phases (1 — 3), along with Supplier and Customer involvement in NPD process provide two benefits: 1) Increase product quality capability; 2) Accelerate pace of development by reducing uncertainty and false starts.
Survey of 85 firms manufacturing industrial goods for the mechanical and electronic sectors.
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Methods

Although Knowledge Management is indispensable in R&D, there are few studies on knowledge management systems supporting the R&D process. Though a number of commercial systems try to facilitate knowledge management, they seldom support the Knowledge Creation cycle in the R&D process. Firms play an active role in knowledge creation and are defined as depositories of knowledge and as learning sites.
Author analysis of prior literature and application within an industrial setting.
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Best Practices concerning quality of market information at the point NPD is initiated: 1) Information on customer needs, wants and problems. 2) Competitive information (products, pricing and strategies). 3) Information on the customer's reaction to the proposed product (degree of liking or purchase intent). 4) Information on customer price sensitivity for the new product. 5) Data on expected non-revenue performance of the product. 6) Data on market size and potential. 7) Expected sales revenue from the new product.
A quantitative survey of 105 business units, supported by team's experience in NPD modeling, consultation, application and analysis.
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Best Practices concerning the requirement for a sharp, early product definition prior to initiating the NPD process: 1) The benefits to be delivered to the customer — the value proposition — clearly defined. 2) The target market defined — the segment at which the product will be targeted. 3) The positioning strategy defined in the eyes of the customers versus competitive products. 4) The product concept defined — what the product will be and do. 5) Establish firm product specifications to avoid unstable specifications and scope creep which can extend time and cost of NPD process. 6) The product's features, requirements and specifications defined. 7) Using a teaming contract between the project team and management to define the product, the project and corporate expectations before the NPD process begins.
A quantitative survey of 105 business units, supported by team's experience in NPD modeling, consultation, application and analysis.
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Companies involved in NPD partnerships with universities share three traits: 1) Internal R&D facilities; 2) Collaborate with other firms in their industry; 3) Investment of time in the academic interactions. They also correlate positively with high patent counts and geographic proximity to university resources.
Pilot survey of 63 manufacturers.
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Comparing Academic and Corporate inventors, each identified the process elements within three categories: 1) Most Critical: Academics — none/Corporate — customer needs analysis. 2) Most Time Consuming: Academics — documentation of design work in technical memos/Corporate — Beta testing. 3) Most Problematic: Academics — technical problems arising during development; testing, data analysis, evaluation, and reporting/Corporate — Defining the market and its growth potential.
Eleven structured interviews involving five academics, five corporate and one hybrid approach, where each mapped their individual approach to NPD drawing from a set of Stage and Step activities.
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Exxon/Mobil lists a key lesson as: Include significant marketing resources early in the NPD cycle. This helps avoid commercial failures that were championed only by the technical side of the company.
Industry experience.
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ExxonMobil evaluates in detail nine elements at each successive stage of the NPD process: 1) Strategic fit of the project with the company's objectives and strengths; 2) Market attractiveness; 3) Technical feasibility; 4) Supply and entry point (there must be an idea of how to supply this new product); 5) Sources of competitive advantage; 6) Legal/public policy/safety, health and environmental aspects; 7) Financial attractiveness; 8) Killer variables - which are those events or changes in market conditions or new technologies that could dramatically alter the situation for the project; 9) Plan to proceed, at least to the next Stage/Gate.
Industry experience.
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Four Best Practices in the NPD process are: 1) Emphasis on pre-Development homework. The fuzzy front end of NPD is considered most problematic. This is where the new product idea is fleshed out into a clear product definition; that the magnitude of the opportunity is assessed, and the business case constructed, and the action plan for the NPD process is mapped. How much homework is enough? On average, twelve percent of the project's total cost (labor, material, equipment) is spend on Up-front Homework before the Development begins.
A quantitative survey of 105 business units, supported by team's experience in NPD modeling, consultation, application and analysis.
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In general, the earliest four stages of the NPD process are done the least well and provide the greatest opportunity for improvement. These include the vision and strategy development, as well as the pre-development NPD activity where the initial concept is shaped, along with the preliminary and detailed analysis.
Interview survey. Study of 69 analysts evaluating 267 early-stage NPD projects.
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Make sure that the team is led by persons with significant decision making responsibility (power), cognitive ability to creatively handle multiple factors and adequate management skill in order to improve product concept effectiveness.
Authors report significant and robust link [link 4+ link 3] in the integrated model, between this method and product effectiveness and thereby to financial success. Actual results not reported.
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Market Information Processing — incremental changes in new products generate low demand for market information processing, since the market is fairly well defined and known based on prior analysis. Market information processing demand is highest for moderately innovative new products where teams require customer needs information to guide development and to validate their concepts. Radically new projects lack a frame of reference for customers, so there is now demand for market information processing and instead NPD relies on intuition and exploratory integration of available information.
Survey of 166 firms.
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NPD begins when there is a commercial target and concept in mind that is strictly development and not research. Activity that precedes NPD is called Knowledge Build where project managers need flexibility to conduct research. For technologies and products completely new to the company, the Knowledge Build team may present the project's potential in a qualitative fashion. The technical leadership will make a Gate decision about sponsoring that research project. If no, the budgeted resources go back to other Knowledge Build activities. If yes, then the team develops the technology through the next stage. If the technology is far enough along, the team transfer the project to the business side and begins the normal Stage/Gate NPD activities.
Industry experience.
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Substantial research on user-orientation in NPD is concerned with inter-organizational relationships, knowledge sharing and trust among collaborators. The Actor-Network Theory points at the translation of knowledge from a variety of sources as the main driver of product idea generation.
Literature review.
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Ten methods used in various Stages of the NPD Process are listed in the Appendix and discussed in the paper: 1) Brainstorming; 2) Morphological analysis; 3) Synetics; 4) Delphi Method; 5) Focus Group; 6) Product Life Cycle; 7) Concept Test; 8) In-home Use Test; 9) Quality Function Deployment; 10) Limited Roll-Out. While most manufacturers are familiar with many of these methods, they report using them in various and sometimes wrong stages -- so they are not applying them properly and in a focused manner.
Literature review and survey of forty-five manufacturers.
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The Idea-generation and concept-testing stages are often called the fuzzy front end of NPD, because they often lack the typically well-defined processes, reliable information and proven decision rules found in latter stages. However, the decisions made in these early stages can lock in most of the downstream costs for manufacturing and marketing support.
Empirical analysis of three sets of problem solving teams to examine the role of analogies, and to assess the effectiveness of different approaches.
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To capture the actual activities of product innovation, it is necessary to distinguish between two types of planning: 1) Pre-decision business planning and 2) Post-decision project planning. At the beginning of the NPD process, information is gathered with the aim of evaluating the innovative idea and developing an initial understanding of the business case. This early-stage planning involves a number of scanning and analyzing activities that can be subsumed under the term business planning.
Analysis of data collected from 132 NPD projects.
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To ensure compliance with the FDA's Quality System Regulation, medical device manufacturers should use a structured product development process to instill discipline in the product life cycle. A hierarchical approach arranges activity from Stages (phases) to Steps to Activities and finally to Tasks. Each Stage has a unique theme and set of deliverables. For example: Stage 0 — Concept Research. This stage identifies new market opportunities, determines customer needs and conducts high-level evaluations of the opportunity and its strategic fit. This activity concludes with the management approval of an integrated business plan for the project, which is then updated at the conclusion of each subsequent stage.
Summary of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's regulations for the research and development process underlying Medical Device manufacturing.
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e-R&D: More than one third of businesses use cyberspace for everything from finance to virtual prototyping. Penetration in corporate research is greater with 80% of engineers using the Internet for gathering procurement information, and 95% of researchers use the Internet to improve their design and development work.
Literature review, author's experience and case studies.
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Measures

Idea Generation in NPD applies multiple tools including three creative (Brainstorming; Synectics; Morphological Analysis) and seven non-creative (Focus Group; Interview/Survey; Observation of Users; Delphi Method; Scenario; Expert Opinion; Product Life Cycle).
Literature review and survey of forty-five manufacturers.
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Table 2 (page 146) lists five categories of intertemporal integration activities, and three levels of NPD performance. Table 2 goes on to list sets of measures appropriate for each.
Conceptual model creation based on literature review.
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Tips

A high-quality new product process is a key factor among successful businesses. However, the process must possess a few key attributes. It must include early technical and market assessments, leading to the development of a business case, prior to the initiation of development activities. It must define all aspects of the product including the market and the product's position within competition. There must be tough go/kill decision points where weak projects are rejected. Quality of execution of the process is paramount, and deliverables for each gate should be pre-defined early on. The process must also be flexible.
Survey of 161 business units.
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Maintain a strong Research & Development department and the new product advantage will likely be greater.
Survey. Positive correlation between the strength of R&D and new product advantage (p<= .01)
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Most of the methods have been developed to deal with specific problems of NPD and thus are meant to be used in specific Stages of the NPD process. Out of ten methods reviewed, all one (Limited Roll-Out) are used in stages for which they are not intended.
Literature review and survey of forty-five manufacturers.
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Secondary findings

Barriers

Centralization and senior-level involvement may positively impact NPD by providing supervision for project uncertainties, yet centralized decision-making tends to repress the creativity, brainstorming and experimentation acknowledged to promote innovation.
Source: Damanpour (1991). In: Harmancioglu, N., McNally, R.C., Calantone, R.J., & Durmusoglu, S.S. (2007)

Some findings suggest that the retention of knowledge leads to better NPD performance. However, retained knowledge has also been considered a barrier to NPD activities, especially when organizations rely too heavily on organizational memory, to the exclusion of external sources of knowledge.
Source: Moorman & Miner (1997). In: Marsh, S.J., & Stock, G.N. (2003)

Carriers

Boundary Spanning — external integration can impact innovation speed and frequency by facilitating coordination with boundary groups.
Source: Parthasarthy & Hammond (2002) p.79. In: Koufteros, X., Vonderembse, M. & Jayaram, J. (2005)

Creativity is seen as an important personality trait for NPD analysts because a lack of meaningful product uniqueness has been found to be the number one reason why new products fail.
Source: Crawford (1977). In: Stevens, G., Burley, J., & Divine, R. (1999)

Reducing R&D and Marketing uncertainty during the Planning Stages (NtK Stages 1-3), as opposed to during the Development Stages (NtK Stages 4-6), has a greater impact on the eventual success of the innovation. Therefore, project teams should allocate more effort in cross-functional information acquisition and processing during the planning stage, that is customary.
Source: Moenart, et al (1995). R&D/marketing communication during the fuzzy front-end. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 42: 243-258.. In: Song, X.M., Thieme, R.J., & Xie, J. (1998)

Models

A literature review found two differences between studies of the early R&D Stages (3,4,5) and the later NPD Stages (6,7,8): First the R&D project studies cited a larger number of factors listed as critical to success, than did the NPD projects. Second, studies with a marketing orientation put more emphasis on internal organizational factors (e.g., launch & marketing) as critical, while studies with a technical orientation put more emphasis on external environmental and market factors as critical.
Source: Calantone & di Benedetto (1988). In: Balachandra, R., Friar, J.H. (1997)

An NPD Model shows that technical and marketing activities complement each other at each stage of the NPD process, which takes place within an environment defined by the firm, the marketplace, and the nature of the project itself.
Source: Cooper (1980). In: Calantone, R.J., diBenedetto, C.A. (1988)

Methods

Creating user ownership of the R&D process and its outputs, requires early and continued involvement in the entire R&D process.
Source: Johnson et al (2003). In: Klerkx, Laurens & Leeuwis, Cees (2007)

Neither basic nor applied research has a direct affect on productivity growth, but each has a strong effect on product and process development.
Source: Zhao & Bean (1991). In: Ettlie, J.E. (1995)

Several factors help reduce overall NPD time including strategic factors such as reducing product complexity, stating strategic intent, minimizing technical difficulties, and increasing co-development with suppliers.
Source: Griffin (1997a). In: Filippini, Roberto Salmaso, Luigi & Tessarolo, Paolo (2004)

The most significant differences between successful and unsuccessful products lie in the quality of execution of the first few stages of NPD — simply stated, the first few plays of the game seem to decide the outcome. Attention should be focused on the first three stages where we determine what should be developed.
Source: Cooper (1988); Cooper (1993). In: Stevens, G., Burley, J., & Divine, R. (1999)

Measures

A universal success curve shows that the odds of commercial success for substantially new products averages 1 in 300 at the idea submission stage (or at patent disclosure stage), and 1 in 125 at the small project stage (or after a patent is granted). After the detailed analysis of Stage 4, the odds of success are 1 in 9 (11%). Even when the project reaches the stage of major development, the odds of success are typically no greater than 1 in 4 (25%). At the commercial launch stage the odds of success are still only 1 in 1.7 (60%). This success rate curve has remained essentially unchanged in the last 40 years.
Source: Stevens & Burley (1997). In: Stevens, G., Burley, J., & Divine, R. (1999)

Tips

Academic knowledge spillovers can be defined as formal or informal movements of new science-based ideas, concepts or technical procedures from university research units to the private sector.
Source: Jaffe (1989). In: MacPherson, A. (2002)