The Instant Glory of Projects
We do projects all the time. Some projects are about developing new things, and others are about improving what we have – continuous improvement.
In the quality realm, there’s what they call the instant glory model. This same kind of thing can happen in product design, too.
We talk about what quality folks call an instant glory, and what to do about it in product design engineering.
There’s a lot for a product design engineer to design into a product.
That’s why you shouldn’t try to do it alone. It takes a team of people to make a product design happen. And getting their input into the product design will help achieve what we set out to do, which is release a new product to market.
With their input, we’re also better set-up to achieve longer-term success within the market.
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We may get our product design released on time and on budget, which means success, but then that success doesn’t translate long term to the success of the product as part of our company’s portfolio. This happens to loss of projects, not just design projects. Let’s talk about these situations and what we might do to prevent them in product design after this brief introduction.
Hello and welcome to Quality during Design, the place to use quality thinking to create products others love, for less. Each week we talk about ways to use Quality during Design engineering and product development. I’m Dianna Deeney. I’m a senior level quality professional and engineer with over 20 years of experience in manufacturing and design. Listen in and then join us: visit qualityduringdesign.com.
We do projects all the time. I do projects all the time. Some projects are about developing new things and others are about improving what we have under the umbrella of continuous improvement.
In the quality realm, there is what they call the instant glory model. We have a challenge. We rise up to meet the challenge and to find a solution or make something better. And we implement a change and then of course we follow up, we measure the performance. Did the change really have an effect is what we wanted to have happen and how effective was it? We’re getting great results. So we’ve achieved success, right? But then, as time goes on, the success wanes and deteriorates. It’s not sustainable. When it’s passed off to the people to adopt and maintain this change, the people that are doing the work to keep the change going, so to say, they can’t do it. Not at the level of success that the continuous improvement team had.
Quality professionals call this short-lived continuous improvement as a “look-alike”. It looks like the team achieved success, but then it didn’t, not when it mattered, which is in the long term. They describe it as a collapse because the work done to achieve success and reaching the top of the mountain eventually collapses, and we’re sort of left back at the beginning or maybe worse off than when we started.
This same kind of thing can happen in product design too. There is a challenge. We have a new user need a new product opportunity. We’re going to meet that challenge by designing a product to fit that need, and then we achieve success with it. We usually look at the product release to market as achieving success of our new product venture. Then the product is monitored in the field. There’s some performance measurement. It gets initial great results. And yeah! We have a win! But as time goes on, success wanes and deteriorates.
This is going to be something normal for some products.
Sometimes novel ideas make a big splash and then become normal things that are expected. Like cell phones having a touch screen. It used to be novel and new, but now we expect them to have it.
There can also be technology changes in the marketplace that make older designs obsolete. Some products in the market don’t get to live out their full life cycle.
Those are just a couple of cases where this is normal for products to maybe not achieve long term success.
There are other cases where it isn’t that kind of a thing. This can happen when long term use of our product is impeded by how it’s designed.
It can’t be repaired. It can’t be upgraded to newer functionalities or enhancements. And those would have been good selling points for our product design.
We can have problems when risks aren’t mitigated or controlled. There’s things happening in the field that are not beyond unreasonable to have have happened, things we maybe should have considered and designed for: mitigated or controlled the risks from happening.
Another potential problem is that quality can’t be maintained long term. The initial supplier setup that we had was good, but then processes drifted or the right things weren’t being monitored like the critical features or aspect of the product design – things that are related to the design doing well, performing well, aren’t being measured and now product quality is not as good as it was when we started.
Or finally it could be that it just doesn’t last. It’s being used in a way or exposed to conditions that we didn’t test for.
That’s a lot for a product design engineer to design into a product. That’s why you shouldn’t try to do it alone.
It takes a team of people to make a product design happen and getting their input into the product design – its users and their goals and other limiting inputs, and then its features, its layouts, its modularity – that will help product design engineers. We’ll achieve what we set out to do. We’ll meet our challenge, which is to release a new product to market that fills an opportunity and meets a user need.
With our team’s input, we’re also better set up to achieve that longer term success after the release to market. Because other people are the ones who are going to take this design and maintain it in the market and make it a success.
They’re going to be marketing and selling the product, making sure people are aware of how awesome it is and helping them make a decision of whether or not to buy it.
They’ll be offering upgrades and performing customer service visits.
Investigating failures that do occur and helping to ensure it remains safe for customers to use.
They’ll also be producing it consistently with a level of quality.
And ensuring that users can use it in the way that they need to.
That’s their job: to help make the product a success in the market. There are a lot of things about the product design itself that are going to affect how they do their job. So we give them opportunities to affect the design itself.
As product design engineers, we know how to design against design inputs. We just need to get them out of our cross functional team’s heads and into ours. What we really need is alignment.
Reading reports is a good starting place. For example, marketing reports, needs analysis and those kinds of reports. And we should read them to start to form ideas and, more importantly, start forming questions.
Reading reports is no replacement for actually talking with the group to get alignment. It’s easier to read a report, yes, and it’s more comfortable to sit on our own and read a report and try to pick out design inputs that we need from it. But we really do need to talk and ask questions to really get alignment with the group that’s going to make this design a success.
Based on studies by Robert Cooper, not enough product development teams do enough of the sharp fact based concept development. Something that helps is having a structured conversation that helps product design engineers ask questions of their cross functional team and get the design inputs that we need. We can use quality tools for that.
So what is today’s insight? We want to talk with and have working meetings with our cross functional team to get alignment about a product design, Getting their input is going to help us avoid the instant glory of a new product launch that isn’t successful long term.
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