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Case Study:  Work-Out, New Product Development

This Case Study illustrates how Gagnon Associates used the GE Work-Out process to help a client optimize their new-product-development process:

The Company

A formerly high-flying, enviably profitable surgical products division of a major health care company.  Makers of state-of-the-art, reusable and disposable devices for the rapidly-growing, least-invasive surgery market.

The Problem

Declining profits due to increased costs associated with a lack of discipline and lack of customer focus in screening new product ideas, initiating new-product development projects and managing the new-product life cycle in the post-introduction phase.

The Approach

Management enlists Gagnon Associates consulting support to lead the change effort to:  a) assess new-product screening, new-product development, and post-product introduction processes and related issues, and b) reengineer these interrelated processes for improved efficiency/effectiveness.

Using the GE Work-Out methodology, four “boundaryless,” client teams are created, including representatives from finance, R&D, marketing, sales, purchasing and other functions.  Three teams focus on one each of three previously mentioned processes.  The fourth team analyzes a recent unsatisfactory surgical pump introduction for additional insights into deficiencies in the new-product introduction process.

Over four days of intense, highly-interactive, Work-Out sessions, parallel teams work both independently and in close coordination, as needed, to:  a) define existing process deficiencies, b) reengineer processes, and c) address key process interrelationships.  Throughout, Gagnon Associates catalyzes and facilitates the process by providing online, work-group leadership as well as “just-in-time” training and coaching on underlying process reengineering tools and techniques.

The Results

Teams completely reengineer new-product screening and new-product development processes and develop a more formal process for managing the post-introduction phases of the product life-cycle.  On the fourth day of the Work-Out, the division’s management team reviews and approves the newly reengineered processes at the “Town Meeting” forum of the Work-Out, attended by all team members and moderated by Gagnon Associates consulting staff.

Management is so aligned with the newly-redesigned processes that it commits to testing approximately 120 new product-development projects currently in the pipeline against the new model and estimates that, as a result, some 40 to 50 resource-draining projects of questionable value to the customer will be eliminated.