The Smile Factor

Making a difference by design…

The first measure I use in New Product Development is the Smile Factor. Literally. Are people smiling?

I reckon that you learn better when you’re having fun. And learning is key for New Product Development. After all, the word ‘New’ means, you’ll be doing something you haven’t done before.

Engaged people learn better.
And learning is key for NPD.

I’m yet to come across a company leader that wants their new product development to go slower. Everyone likes to go faster. But when I ask “How fast?”, I typically get a  “Hmm…good one” as the answer.

In New Zealand hardly anyone measures anything to do with New Product Development. Yet, we all like our NPD to be faster, better, more profitable. (But we don’t collect the data by the sku or project level, even though the systems most of the time can do it).

It’s like driving a car without a dashboard.
And it means I don’t have a base line to start from.

Instead, I’ll look around the room and do a ‘temperature check’ at the start of the project and when we finish. I call it the Smile Factor. We check the first impact of my work by looking around the room. Are people smiling? Because if you are smiling, you’re enjoying your work, which is a good start point to learn and to come up with great ideas.

Just think about it, where are you when you come up with great ideas? With that “Ah, I’ve got it!” solution? You might be out for a walk, riding your bike, under the shower, travelling…you’re relaxed, you feel in control of your life and workload.

Where was Newton when he came up with the law of gravity? He was dreaming under that apple tree!

Key ingredient for successful NPD – relax! 

To notice things and come up with great ideas and solutions to problems, you need to be relaxed (at least some of the time), feel confident and in control of your workload. I reckon we learn better too if we’re having fun. Good luck trying to teach or lead if the team is feeling worried, stressed or scared.

“If NPD flows the whole team is happy”

Let’s get the team smiling first. A clear framework, which the team understands because they helped design it, with clear rules and roles, certainly helps to get the team feeling better. Combine that with a workload that looks exciting (not overwhelming) and you’re on a good track.

Is your team smiling? Are they engaged and aligned?

If not, give me a ring!

Onwards & upwards,

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