Jeff Allison: How To Blend New Capability and New Product Development

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Intrapreneur, skmurphy

Jeff Allison offers a June-1-2017 briefing on how to blend new capability development and new product development. Innovation requires experimentation that allows for the possibility of failure but the whole point of creating a program commitment process is to avoid failure.

Jeff Allison: How To Blend New Capability and New Product Development

Jeff Allison has worked in high tech industry for over 30 years. During that time he acquired a vast amount experience in product development, change management, new technology adoption, sales and marketing.

Jeff worked at Cisco from 1992 to 2012 at a time of dynamic growth in the company and the networking industry. He joined Cisco as a manager responsible for EDA tools. Then spent the next 20 years at Cisco in various Engineering leadership positions and provided Engineering Design services for all the high-end routing platforms. He was vice president of engineering for the last decade and drove a significant number of cross functional internal and customer facing initiatives. These included a rationalization of best practices across engineering teams from various Cisco acquisitions and quality and customer satisfaction initiatives as Cisco established a leadership position in global service provider markets.

Jeff’s first position was working for Racal-Redac in the Engineering Design Automation (EDA) industry. At Redac he set up an Engineering sales support organization in North America for design entry and simulation tools. During that time, he experienced the rapid growth and consolidation in the EDA industry. Jeff graduated from the University of Wales in ’84 with degree in Engineering.

Experiments vs. Committed Programs: How to Drive Innovation and Meet Commitments

Innovation requires experimentation that allows for the possibility of failure but the whole point of creating a program commitment process is to avoid failure.

How do you as an engineering manager or executive

  1. leverage a product portfolio to run experiments to minimize risk for future programs?
  2. sell and deploy new capabilities throughout engineering?

What questions can you as an engineering manager or executive ask to understand the scope of the risk?

Jeff Allison will present lessons learned from working with early adopters in a fast cycle or rapid prototyping approach that anticipates the need for a scalable reliable development process and lays the groundwork for it.

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Much has been written about a startup making a pivot in direction after Eric Ries first coined the term
in a 2009 blog post “Pivot don’t Jump to a New Vision.” The word pivot has attracted almost as much wordplay as the word lean.  What follows is a short list of good and bad reasons to pivot.

Difference Between a Hypothesis and an Assumption

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The difference between a hypothesis and an assumption is that the first is normally explicit and the second implicit. A hypothesis is what is being tested explicitly by an experiment. An assumption is tested implicitly. By making your assumptions as well as your hypotheses explicit you increase the clarity of your approach and the chance for learning.

Three Great Books on Generating Innovative Business Ideas

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These three books contain a wealth of useful suggestions for generating innovative business ideas from observing, questioning, and networking with customers and others:

  • The Innovator’s DNA” by Christensen, Dyer, and Gregerson outlines a set of five skills that innovator’s use to develop entrepreneurial ideas: questioning, observing, networking, experimenting, and associating. They offer a number of suggestions for how to cultivate these skills. But even their formulation assumes a fair amount of iteration as candidate ideas are developed, tested, recombined to create novel value.
  • Customer Visits” by Edward McQuarrie goes into extensive detail about techniques and strategies for interviewing business customers not only to refine existing offerings but to identify new product opportunities.
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship” by Peter Drucker suggests that you develop innovative business ideas by searching for changes that have already occurred but where the full effects have not been felt.  In particular in “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” he lists seven sources for innovative ideas in decreasing order of importance:
    • The Unexpected (e.g. unexpected success or failure of an existing product or service)
    • The Incongruous
    • Weak Link In Existing Process
    • Industry Or Market Structure Change
    • Demographics: Size, Age Structure
    • New Zeitgeist: Perception, Mood, Meaning
    • New Knowledge

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