Organization’s Specific Capabilities

Successful projects are associated with quality performance (proficiency) by one or more key players in the new products operation. A firm’s key players will vary some, depending on strategy, but we usually see the same bunch. First on most lists is technology. But technology does not mean just in research labs. A technology is a system or set of people and things that permit work. A soft drink bottling system is a technology.

In a virtual tie with technology is a bundle of skills in marketing. The needs and desires of the marketplace are an essential input to product innovation. And the end product must be presented to the end user in a way that stimulates trial and adoption. Just as some marketing firms have lacked technical skills, some technical firms have lacked marketing skills.

A new member of the triad is operations/manufacturing—maybe a factory, a laboratory, a set of carpet cleaning franchisees, an actuarial department in an insurance company, or even the legislature in a government. It is where the good or service is prepared or offered. It could be the classroom where this subject is discussed tomorrow. No matter how well designed or marketed, if the organization cannot deliver on the promised product, success cannot be assured. In the best firms today, manufacturing capability begins its development at the very start of the project, and may even be decided in the strategy if that is where the technology strength is located.

There are some other capabilities needed today, though the list is industry dependent. Two skills are moving up the list—human resource management (HRM) and technology (IT). They both relate to how new product projects are being managed today. HRM people are apparently critical in building the inventory of potential team leaders, and in training those selected for this most difficult task. IT people hold the answer to collocation, the physical grouping of teams that contribute so much to a new product project. Their answer: digital collocation, or the virtual collocated team. On a slightly broader plain, IT also permits effective networking, something we will see actually makes the “company within a company: that new products projects become.

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