Reflections on PDMA PIM 2012

Posted on November 24, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized

Overall, a great week!  Met many new and interesting people and had a chance to interact with some real thinkers!!  Attended the research forum as well, where academic researchers are trying to bridge the gap between theory and execution.  I think there’s a lot of room for growth here, but was glad to see that there’s some real, quantifiable work being done on researching innovation.

Sat in, for the first time, on a sustainable development seminar for an entire day.  It was, unfortunately (or, fortunately for me), not well attended, however I was able to get a full day of in-depth education from the 8-10 experts who were in the room.  Very enlightening.

It occurred to me as I listened to a Swedish chemical company, an American flooring company and a discussion on Nike’s approach with some of its shoe lines that, like the customer experience, sustainable development is a systemic way of thinking and spans the very beginnings of the product life-cycle to the final resting place of the product being designed.  It doesn’t do much good to design a recyclable product if its most likely disposal point is in a trash can.  You have to design for everything from the source components to the end game and, as some have been able to do, close the loop to actually collect the end product and feed it back into new products.  Starbucks has a cup now made from 10% recycled paper.  An amazing achievement, but, the paper company that produces the cups has to flush the 10% recycled pulp from its line every time it has to manufacture non-recycled material cups, which creates tremendous waste.  Fascinating stuff.  Really enjoyed my time with the PDMA sustainability group.

Heard some great keynotes from Abbie Griffin at the University of Utah on Serial Innovators and Robert Walcott from Kellogg School of Management on Innovation and Growth.  Design thinking seems to be the way at Intuit and Citigroup, which mirrors much of the approach we used at Wachovia to really improve our products.  Tighter integration with the customer, understanding their stories/problems, etc.

My session, “Why Things Go Wrong in Product Development and How to Improve,” was on the 3rd day and , thankfully, was heavily attended.  You always wonder, as a speaker, if someone else is going to steal your thunder, make your main point and, accidentally, obsolete what you are going to say.  It’s a bit like draft day.  You want other speakers to meld with your message, but not contradict or put out your message for you.  I had a really energetic group and we discussed innovation and execution, focus and root cause for a little over my allotted 45 minute time slot!  There’s a review of my session coming out in the very near future in the next print and online edition of Visions magazine, published by PDMA.

The organizers did a great job of recruiting and coordinating the speakers messages and, honestly, it was one of the best conferences I’ve been to in quite awhile.  Thank you PDMA!