Does Engineering Work for Sales or Management?

Strategy is a wonderful word. It sounds great in meetings, as does its adjective form, strategic. Everyone’s mind snaps to attention the moment either word is used. Then everyone nods, saying we have got to have the right strategy. And if some plan is called strategic, then we must certainly do it.

Management and consultants throw the s-word around casually all the time. Too much of the time, these folks are actually talking about tactics; or even worse, operational levels. There are instances in which both tactics and operational items are strategic. But, usually they are not.

Certain companies and service firms do understand how to create strategies and then put them into effect. People who have worked for those companies see it immediately and their thought processes are changed for the rest of their careers.

Product road maps and product portfolio strategies, and their enforcement, are important. The only companies that systematically prosper without a good portfolio strategy either out-service their competition, sit at the top of the heap in operational excellence and cost management, or are lucky enough to be in a high-growth industry where management can do no wrong.

Does Engineering Work for Sales or Management? [Machine Design – March 2015] discusses the four primary product portfolio management strategies that companies utilize, and the degree to which management polices adherence to its’ stated strategy. Strategies used by Apple, Microsoft, and Harley-Davidson aftermarket suppliers illustrate the key points.

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