Decades of research into the management of new product development have led to an insight into fundamental critical success factors (for a good summary overview, I refer to Tidd, Bessant & Pavitt, 1997). In Figure 1, a (simplified) summary overview of the key performance variables relevant for new product development performance is therefore provided. The critical influence of information flows and communication patterns on the performance of new product activities has been well-documented and subject to major research attention (see Brown and Eisenhardt, 1995, for an excellent overview of the different research studies on this topic). These flows are at the heart of the performance model. The attention paid to information flows and communication networks is not astonishing given the need for uncertainty reduction during the new product development process. In addition, the various methodological avenues that complement and sustain those information and communication processes and that have received ample attention, include:

  1. the use of flowchart-based decision and monitoring models of the new product development process (e.g. the phase models and stage-gate models as described in Souder, 1987 or in Twiss, 1994) taking into account both the fuzzy front end phase of every product design endeavour as well as the need for learning between projects as manifested by the presence of a ‘post’-project phase (Debackere & Vandevelde, 1996; Deschamps & Nayak, 1995);
  2. the introduction of creativity-stimulating and idea-generating techniques like brainstorming and mind-mapping (e.g. Povel, 1993; Terninko, Zusman & Zlotin, 1998);
  3. the use and the design of grid-methodologies and techniques to identify, to define and to monitor innovation opportunities (e.g. SWOT-assessments, product maturity grids, business growth matrices, Quality Function Deployment matrices; I refer to Clark & Fujimoto (1991) as well as Wheelwright & Clark (1992) for a good overview);
  4. the development of selection methodologies that respond to the need for funnelling, i.e. filtering and tunnelling a wealth of ideas into a more limited set of new product-technology concepts toward a still more limited set of ‘successful’ products (for an excellent overview of the funnelling concept, I refer to Wheelwright & Clark, 1992);
  5. the application of project management techniques to follow-up on new product development endeavours (see for instance Duncan, 1996).

The interaction and the co-evolution of work organisation, design methodologies and information flows are at the heart of the operational management of the new product development pro-cess. As can be seen from Figure 1, the advent of design technologies such as three-dimensional computer aided design software and rapid prototyping techniques as well as rapid tooling techniques adds yet another dimension to the core of a high-performing, new product development process. As argued in the previous sections, the advent of these technologies has a profound impact on the principles of concurrency and time-compression that represent a key trend in the management of new product development processes (Loch and Terwiesch, 1998).
They are instrumental in making ‘experimentation’ a core activity of managing the new product development process. By their very nature, design technologies allow to integrate the new pro-duct development process by enabling participants involved in upstream decisions to consider downstream and external design requirements, including the timely and relevant involvement of the downstream and external decision makers themselves.

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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

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