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Robert G. Cooper

New products fail at an alarming rate: only one development project in four becomes a commercial success! Why do so many new products fail, and more importantly, what are the secrets to success? This chapter summarizes the research in this field, and highlights 20 key success drivers identified in empirical studies of new product performance. The best practices found in successful new product projects include voice of customer, effective cross-functional teams, iterative validation or “spiral development,” and robust front-end homework. Next, the “people side” of new product development is perhaps the most important set of success drivers, and include climate and culture, leadership, and how firms organize. Strategic drivers of success are also highlighted: the business’s innovation strategy and how it makes its research and development investment decisions (portfolio management). Finally, the new product process – the systems the business has put in place to drive projects from idea to launch – are outlined, including newer approaches such as integrating Agile methods into more traditional stage-and-gate systems.

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Robert G. Cooper