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Blockbuster Teams

Posted on December 06, 2007 by Kathryn Regina.


According to the book Blockbusters, it’s a company’s innovative product—not it’s price point, customer service or depreciation schedule—that creates value for customers. To discover the key practices required for developing “blockbuster” products, authors Gary S. Lynn, Ph.D. and Richard R. Reilly, Ph.D., conducted a two year study of “blockbuster” product development teams. Here’s what we thought of their findings:



Out of the five “best practices” for new product development, I thought the most interesting one was that successful teams always have senior management that is “intimately involved” with the project. This seems to run contrary to most management situations. It also raises the question as to how these managers have time to be both teammates and management. Nevertheless, the authors insist that “coming up with the ‘big idea’ is only the beginning,” and that when management merely pops in once in a while to check in on things it’s not only unhelpful, it often results in “hit and run” accidents. The authors observed that in successful teams, senior management played one of three roles: project leader, technical guru or coach.


The authors’ observation that successful teams were “not especially concerned about building friendships or even insisting that everyone like each other,” adds a harsh robotic-like element to what is otherwise a set of reasonable best practices. However, upon closer examination it seems like what the authors really observed from the successful teams was that friendships aren’t all that’s needed for a strong team, and that strong teams can exist even if not everyone gets along. That’s a lot different than saying that in order to be successful you have to be unconcerned about building friendships. Because that just sounds creepy, to be honest.


Keep it open.  Keep it clear.  Keep it consistent.  That seems to be the lesson from the book summary, “Blockbusters,”  which identifies the five necessary steps to lead a product development team.  When I say keep it open, I mean lines of communication, ideas and focus must be open to all possibilities.  It never serves people well to be forced down one unwavering path.  It is important to be clear about what your product is, what the competition provides, who your audience is and who your competitors are.  A clear idea of this allows the unique and alluring elements of your product strategy to flourish.  Lastly, maintaining consistent communication and problem-solving techniques between developers, managers and decision makers discourages the occurrence of mistakes, unfavorable relationships and unwanted surprises.


By reading specific accounts of real-life company sagas, it becomes clear that Lynn and Reilly's "5 keys to developing great new products" are vital steps to becoming successful.  The summary highlights Iomega's trip to success and teaches the reader that all 5 rules (Commitment of Senior Management, Clear and Stable Vision, Improvisation, Information Exchange, and Collaboration Under Pressure) are not simply step-by-step suggestions.  Rather, all 5 must be used tgether from start to finish in a balanced collaberation between all departments of the company.

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December 6, 2007 in award winning design, award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Blogs, build credibility, business credibility, Business editorial, business magazine, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, company magazine, company newsletter, Company newsletters, Company publication, corporate magazine, Corporate newsletter, Corporate publications | Permalink


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Innovative products do make all the difference. It is much easier to sell something that has unique qualities, even if it is more expensive than some.

Posted by: Danny Gardner | Dec 11, 2007 9:14:25 AM

I agree 100 percent. It is all about a companies product, not price point

Posted by: andy vanakin | May 14, 2008 11:24:40 AM

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