The Myths of Product Development (Readings)

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

Note for those registered for the class: Access these articles from the class Moodle page, to save 50% on the cost.


The Process of Development (In the HBSP Course Pack)

By: Kim B. Clark, Takahiro Fujimoto


This chapter, from the author's 1991 book: Product Development Performance: Strategy, Organization and Management in the World Auto Industry, is still remarkably appropriate 30 years later, as it "explores the product development process, identifying the information assets to be developed and the linkages that must be managed for each of the four major development activities."


Six Myths of Product Development (In the HBSP Course Pack)

By: Stefan Thomke, Donald Reinertsen

Many companies approach product development as if it were manufacturing, trying to control costs and improve quality by applying zero-defect, efficiency-focused techniques. While this tactic can boost the performance of factories, it generally backfires with product development. The process of designing products is profoundly different from the process of making them, and the failure of executives to appreciate the differences leads to several fallacies that actually hurt product-development efforts. In this article, the authors, an HBS professor and a consultant, expose these misperceptions and others. They look at six dangerous myths:

  1. High utilization of resources will make the department more efficient;

  2. Processing work in large batches will be more economical;

  3. Teams need to faithfully follow their development plan, minimizing any deviations from it;

  4. The sooner a project is started, the sooner it will be finished;

  5. The more features a product has, the better customers will like it; and

  6. Projects will be more successful if teams "get them right the first time."

The authors explain the negative effects these "principles" have when applied to product development, offer practical guidelines on overcoming them, and walk readers through a visual tool that will help them keep projects on track.