In the Agile Manifesto, the statement,"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools," declares relative value from the perspective of the signatories. In other development environments, processes and tools may seem to command a lot more attention than people. A people versus process discussion may polarize many participants.
This post explores a potentially more polarizing idea:
"In New Product Development (NPD), processes are incidental to the value stream" (1)
Value Stream: The an end-to-end business process which delivers a product or service to a customer or consumer. The process steps along the way may both use and produce intermediate goods, services and information to reach that primary end.
Analysis may suggest the removal of intermediate process steps, goods, services and information that do not move the value stream forwards to its primary end, provided they do not serve important secondary ends such as compliance, quality control or employee loyalty.
Initially, the value is realized at launch when people begin to interact with your new product.The value depends on the user experience with your new product. For the most part, customers don't care too much about your processes.
Speculative Products and Speculative Processes
In NPD, most projects begin as speculative product concepts. A speculative product is not developed for a particular customer and there are no guarantees that sales will be abundant. Your 'finished' product may not have a great product/market fit. If your product doesn't have traction in the marketplace, an expensive advertising campaign or extensive public relations effort will be inefficient.
The product concept is speculative. The processes used to commercialize the product are more speculative even if it is implied that the processes are aligned with 'Best Practices.'
Incidental doesn't imply unimportant.
It is a reminder that NPD is a multi-variable problem and the desired primary output is value in the economic domain. Sometimes contributors to NPD get distracted by proxy variables such as waste, cycle time, variability, efficiency, and unit cost and processes. (2)
In new product development, mobilize your team to delight customers and incidentally you can publish the results on your brilliant processes that facilitated your success.
1. The title of this post was inspired (in part) after viewing a presentation by Hal Macomber on Target-Value Design at the UK Lean Conference in 2009.
2. According to Don Reinertsen, the goal of NPD is to maximization of life cycle profits.