You are doing a great job generating enthusiasm around your new products. You have talked with your customers, partners and associates about new product ideas and they are excited to offer input. They are hopeful you will make their suggestion a reality. And now you are getting inundated with all the ideas! Many companies fail right here. They do not execute on the ideas! Not only do they miss business growth opportunities, but they demotivate the person with the original idea (the originator).
I am going to share with you my process that led to the launch of 30 major new products at one of my companies! It’s called ‘The Cars on the Road’ TM. We created the Cars on the Road TM process as a way to manage and launch new products more effectively.
‘Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once. Whether you are ready or not, put your plan into action.’
The Business Opportunity Summary (BOS)
First, we created a Business Opportunity Summary (BOS) to swiflty organize the many ideas that we had coming at us. The BOS is a streamlined and effective screening mechanism from my experience. Although the BOS in many ways is a standard form, it is the BOS process that you might find most challenging. For example;
- We respond back to the originator within 24 hours of receiving their idea. The message is ‘that we have received their idea’ and the goal is to set up a meeting to discuss it. The originator will be impressed to get a call within 24 hours! And even if the idea is not approved to move forward, the originator feels heard, that their idea was fully considered, and they are more likely to give us more ideas in the future!
- The BOS should be completed within 30 days of submittal. We are looking for Speed here! Get it done. Move it along. Make it happen! Think Speed!
- The BOS is designed to be no more than 1 page. This keeps it simple and focused on what it really is – an initial screen. It is not designed to be a business plan.
Ideas that get BOS’d are either put on the road or taken off the road. The cars on the road become active cars and are assigned to a product manager and an operational leader to drive. What are they driving? Our 10-Step planning process that includes defining:
- Design Document
- Business Case
- Product Development
- Operational Plan
- Financial Plan
- Transition Plan
- Contract Documents
- Sales Launch
We drive the completion of this 10-step process through what we call ‘Speed Week’. Speed Week is a once a month push that involves reviewing all active cars with their respective teams. Each product team will be brought together to discuss progress, issues, next steps. The executive team is actively involved. Although this is a tremendous commitment in time, it also forces us to move things forward and make progress. At one of my company’s we added Iteration Reviews to our process, where the developers would stand up, show and talk about the new features and new products they were working on. Everyone in the company was invited to these Iteration Reviews!
‘We should manage the development process as vigorously and enthusiastically as we fight for the ideas we will work on!’
Bottom line: All departments should be involved in generating and evaluating ideas, and helping to plan and launch new products. At one of my companies, when I first joined – only the development team was involved in new product development. We closed this hole by making the planning process a team effort! If you can generate new product ideas and evaluate them rapidly through the one-page BOS process, and take the active Cars on the Road successfully to market, you can take your business all the way to the top!