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Flexible Product Development: Building Agility for Changing Markets

Flexible Product Development: Building Agility for Changing Markets

Preston G. Smith

ISBN: 978-0-470-18058-7

Sep 2007, Jossey-Bass

320 pages



In this landmark book, Preston Smith attributes the recent decline in innovation to pressure from financial markets that drives management toward rigid development approaches such as phased development processes, Six Sigma, and project office. These processes have unintentionally (but effectively) made changes during development more difficult, disruptive, and expensive, while the need for change continues at an accelerating pace.

Flexible Product Development is a hands-on resource that provides the tools and strategies needed to restore flexibility to any organization and remove the obstacles that stand in the way of responsive new product development. Preston Smith introduces approaches that can enhance development process flexibility by creating and maintaining development options, delaying decisions, and, in general, reducing the cost of change. Step-by-step, he explains the basics of flexible product development, provides a broad array of flexibility-enhancing tools, and guides the reader in modifying the organization?s values to embrace this new way of operating.



1. Understanding Flexibility.

Dealing with Change.

How Much Flexibility?.

The Roots: Agile Software Development.

Moving from Software to Other Products.

A Note of Caution.

The Project Analyzer.


2. Customers and Product Requirements.

The Fallacy of Frozen Requirements.

The Value of Customer Feedback.

Specify at a Higher Level.

Anticipate Customer Needs.

Pitfalls of Customer Feedback.


3. Modular Product Architectures.

Modular versus Integral Architectures.

Examples of Architectural Choices.

Architectural Approaches.

Four Steps in Designing an Architecture.

Architectural Decisions.

Architecture at the Design Level.

Shifting the Hardware-Software Boundary.


4. Experimentation.

Kinds of Experiments.

The Value of Failure.

Exploration as Experimentation.

Front-Loaded Prototyping.



5. Set-Based Design.

What Is Set-Based Design?

Benefi ts of Set-Based Design.

Managing Set-Based Design.

Delaying Decisions.

The Diffi culties.


6. Development Teams and People Factors.

Teams and Flexibility.

Having the Right People.

Desirable People Qualities.

Team Qualities.


7. Decision Making.

Improving Decision-Making Flexibility.

People and Decisions.

Uncertainty and Decisions.

Decision Trees.

Real Options Thinking.


8. Project Management.

Flexible versus Mainstream Project Management.

The Role of a Flexible Project Manager.

Project Planning.


Project Risk Management.

Project Metrics.

Project Retrospectives.


9. Product Development Processes.

Emergent Processes.

The Essentials of Flexible Processes.

Balancing Structure with Flexibility.

Bottlenecks and Queues.

Useful Concepts from Agile Software Development.


10. Implementing Flexibility.

Five Paradoxes.

Transitions Are the Crux.

Top-Down Change.

Bottom-Up Change.





Customer Council.

The Author.


""I believe that any careful reader of (this book) will emerge with a clear sense of those values and principles and enough enthusiasm for what Smith recommends to take his advice and go ahead and implement them."" (Journal of Product Innovation Management, 03/2008)