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GGI RapidNews R&D Product Development eZine: Volume 2, Issue 10- December 7, 2001
GGI RapidNews is published monthly


Lessons from Robert G. Cooper: Much has been written about those management practices and business processes which can lead to product marketplace success. There are those observers of NPD practice who argue that little can be said that has not already been said about what organizations need to do to increase success rates. It is business practice, they say, which needs to adopt what has already been learned. We continuously repeat our mistakes, the argument goes, often oblivious to the lessons past NPD experience has made available. This is Pogo's lament: "We have seen the enemy, and he is us!"

Robert G. Cooper, in an article for the Journal of Product Innovation Management* discusses the above theme, asks why we repeat our NPD mistakes with such frequency and makes the following points:

  • There are two broad concerns: doing the right projects and doing projects right.
  • The "right projects" are largely controlled by external dynamics (and internal competencies), and can be easily integrated in business processes to select and prioritize NPD projects.
  • Doing "projects right" focuses on what the NPD team does or does not do; those invisible factors largely responsible for repeating project successes or failures.

Dr. Cooper suggests that many factors differentiating project success from failure are controllable and actionable. He describes eight common denominators of successful NPD projects:

  • Up-front homework.
  • Built-in voice of the customer.
  • Differentiated, superior products.
  • Sharp, stable, early product definition.
  • An early planned and resourced market launch.
  • Tough go/kill process decisions for the project.
  • True cross-functional project team organization.
  • International orientation in the NPD process.

More often than not, teams and management know what has to be done to build a successful project, but simply do not do it! Dr. Cooper describes this as a "quality crisis" in the execution of NPD processes. He suggests that the NPD process is broken. We turn blind to what we know builds success! Why? Dr. Cooper describes seven "blockers," which prevent teams from seeing what produces success:

  • Lack of knowledge about what should be done.
  • A lack of skills, particularly in the key tasks.
  • A faulty NPD process, missing key elements or too bureaucratic.
  • An excess of team confidence.
  • A lack of discipline or leadership.
  • In too big a hurry so corners are cut.
  • Too many projects; insufficient resources.

Dr. Cooper describes these "blockers" in detail and offers numerous solutions for each. He concludes that we know the ABCs of NPD success, but these "blockers" make them invisible. He integrates the various solutions proposed to the above "blockers" into 11 actionable items for NPD success:

  • Company leadership must support the NPD process.
  • Design and implement a new NPD process or Stage-Gate system.
  • Overhaul that process if it's more than two years old.
  • Define the performance standards expected.
  • Install a process manager to oversee the process.
  • Build in tough go/kill project decision points.
  • Use true cross-functional teams.
  • Provide project team member training.
  • Seek cycle time reduction.
  • Move to portfolio management.
  • Cut back on the number of projects underway.

* "From Experience: The Invisible Success Factors in Product Innovation" Robert G. Cooper, JPIM, Volume 16, Number 2, March 1999, p. 115-133.

The Need for Miniaturization: World chess champion Garry Kasparov might have lost to "Deep Blue" more convincingly if the IBM he was then battling had nanotechnology IC processing capabilities. If NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) had been involved in such a "deeper blue" development project, there would be little doubt about it.Let's look at human-machine processing capabilities again below.

Security stealth concerns aside, the history of systems-on-a-chip, labs-on-a-chip, noses-on-a-chip, MEMS (microelectromechanical systems), MOEMS (micro-opto-electro-mechanical systems), STM (scanning tunneling microscope, which sees atoms), Mechatronics (design subsystems of electromechanical products to ensure optimal system performance) and the the futuristic visions of atomic engineering (nanotechnology, which turns the buildings blocks of matter into microscopic machines) are all grounded in the need for miniaturization. That need arose from the original integrated circuit (IC) invented in 1958. The transistor had been invented 11 years earlier.

Now we are in the process of conceptualizing the transition from millions to billions of transistors on a chip. It is hard to believe that the first microprocessor chip was invented but 30 years ago with the Intel 4004. Electronic "noses" (odor-reactive polymer sensor arrays with pattern recognition systems or artificial neural networks) now can control quality in food processing establishments, make medical diagnoses and do environmental monitoring. From drug delivery systems to monitoring enclosed environments, modern miniaturization is creating new computational possibilities and exciting new markets. International terrorism is simply raising the national security stakes for miniaturization's military applications.

One nanotechnologist has said: "While the human brain has 10 to the 15th power synapses operating effectively with a 1kHz clock frequency at a 0.1% activity level, a silicon multiprocessing unit (MPU) in the year 2011, fabricated using 50 nm (nonometer) line rules, will incorporate 1.4 billion transistors operating with a 10GHz clock frequency at a 1% activity level. The functional throughput of a MPU, defined as the product of the number of gates, the clock frequency, and the activity, is therefore expected to exceed that of the human brain, and yet cost <$1,000 to manufacture, if current cost projections are accurate. These projections are not fanciful; they are grounded in thousands of man-years of physical science research and development, and are simply based on a practical recasting of the MOSFET transistor as a nanotransistor with nanometer-scale dimensions."* Good luck to Garry in round two with "deeper blue."

Little wonder we now see a National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The Initiative was originally created by President Clinton (11/93) under the National Science and Technology Council's (NSTC) Sub-Committee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) to coordinate science, space and technology across government and industry. The NNI now consists of various activities (solicitations for contracts, program reviews and symposia), reports (from government agencies and industry) and R&D support (at various U.S.centers, a technology database and conferences).

See the following links for additional information:
The NSET site.
Maryland Loyola College's involvement.
The Materials Research Society site.
The DOE Sandia National Laboratory site.
The ASME's Nanotechnology Steering Committee site.

* Solid State Technology "Microelectronics Nanotechnology Future" Pieter "Pete" Burggraaf, page 63-66.

How to Measure and Maximize Clinical Trial Performance with Metrics: How can R&D accomplish its work more quickly and efficiently without compromising safety and quality? This crucial question requires an understanding of what a company's R&D functions are doing now! Most pharmaceutical and biotech organizations have little knowledge of how well they currently perform their R&D functions.

How effective is your organization at planning and executing clinical trials? How good are its protocols? How efficient is patient enrollment? How clean is the data? Pharmaceutical, biotechnology, device, and contract research companies are beginning to think more seriously about how to measure R&D and clinical trial performance. Companies must improve their development performance and R&D metrics offers a way to do so.

On January 28-29, 2002 at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton, NJ, the Institute for International Research (IIR) will present its "How to Measure and Maximize R & D and Clinical Trial Performance with Metrics" conference. Eight good reasons to attend are:

  1. To identify how to gather performance metrics and use them to improve project progress.
  2. To enhance benefits of project reporting to the project team, the organization and the metrics group.
  3. To increase benefits of project management in your clinical research project.
  4. To hear how to modify and establish performance goals, standards and benchmarks.
  5. To document cost and time efficiencies in clinical development.
  6. To identify successful balanced scorecard approaches to NPD R&D and clinical research projects.
  7. To learn new strategies using dashboard performance metrics to evaluate project progress.
  8. To review what CROs are doing to implement a standardized metrics system.

Brad Goldense of GGI will present a newly written paper at the conference on "Improving Productivity and Baseline Performance Using Metrics" in sensor and reagent development.

Please visit to get additional conference information.
RapidNews is an e-mail publication from Goldense Group, Inc (GGI). Its subject matter includes survey findings, company news, book reviews, key industry conferences and R&D information of interest to clients and associates. Please send communications to rn(at) Thank you.