Decision-flow Issues

How the Decision-Flow Impacts Product Development and Product Line Performance

This list relates the blog Decision Flows and Product Line Strategies.

Here are ten issues that arise from a poor or disjointed decision flow. Please read and comment on each. Or please add to the list.

  1. Projects are swirling in development because too much risk (technology or market) passes from concept creation into development. Think of this as the technologies aren’t ready for development, or because the market need is speculated, not validated. Some risk in development is OK.  But too much is not. The problem results when bad decisions combine with poor judgments early in the front-end.
  2. Too many projects clog the development pipeline. This means individual project decisions are divorced from portfolio decisions. It’s also likely that product line strategies and roadmaps aren’t used.
  3. Products that launch don’t complement one another enough. There’s a lack of leverage across the product line. While projects get out the door and managers feel successful, the overall impact isn’t as great as stakeholders hoped. This is usually the result of no platform leverage. And platform leverage only grows strong through deliberate choice. The lack of platform leverage means that choice has not been made.
  4. New products don’t deliver enough customer satisfaction. This problem starts during front-end practices. Judgments were made that creative thinking will out-power market understanding. That’s poor judgment.
  5. Competitors consistently beat your new offerings ― in timing or performance. Their decision and workflows are better than your flows. And perhaps they have a better starting point.
  6. Development costs seem to sky-rocket. This can arise from a combination of the issues above. Take your pick. As soon as a few poor decision issues combine, you’ll see costs shoot for the sky.
  7. There is as much angst coming out of review meetings as there is work going into projects. This is troubling because it happens often. And it’s a result of a disconnect in the decision-flow. Those presenting the project didn’t know the basis for a decision before they went to the meeting. A good decision-flow enables project contributors to know what matters to the decision makers… before doing work and delivering the results in the meeting.
  8. Every few years, your company conducts “portfolio triage” just to regain our focus. It suggests there was no game plan or strategy… and no roadmap to follow. The irony is that those who start the triage look like heroes. But the same heroes may need to fess up to contributing to the poor decision flow. They also need to fix the flow, not just the portfolio.
  9. Project managers feel their most significant issues are with the other projects underway, not with their own project. You’ll hear statements like, “if they just stopped that other project and gave me the resources, I’d get my project done right.” At the root of the statement is a belief that priorities are wrong and the strategy is faulty. Who’s right, and does it matter?
  10. process flow has two review meetings conducted back-to-back. And each meeting has a different set of managers sitting in judgment. One meeting may be to grant permission to exit concept development and another to enter development. This happens because processes don’t align ― concept creation and development work sit on separate islands. And there’s no common strategy or roadmap to bridge the two.



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