The article “Strategies of Effective New Product Team Leaders,” by Avan R. Jassawalla and Hemant C. Sashittal, explores strategies of effective new product Team Leaders. One of the aspects of the article that I appreciate most is that it points out that it is the change in behaviors of the Leaders from the top down in reaction to the environment that prove to be most effective in developing new strategies.
Communication is key to successful new product development, this includes sharing information, but also learning from each other, the situation, and the environment. Although product development is usually housed within the R&D department, the process could be accelerated by encouraging all functional groups to work together and share information, as well as making everyone accountable for the outcome. The role of the Team Leader in all of this is to facilitate the communication/collaboration and learning process. When all teams involved are able to have input AND are held accountable for their input, the process is filled with more creativity and expertise in all areas.
In order to ensure this collaborative process with the Team Leader as the facilitator, Senior Management must groom/select Team Leaders and then give them a high level of autonomy to ensure commitment of team members, build transparency within the teams, fuction as faciltators, strengthen human relations amongst employees, and foster learning. In addition, Senior Management must encourage and support the process even if it involves a high level of risk and time in order to accomplish effective new product development. This is especially hard in companies that feel pressure of shareholders for that bottom line because we’ve become so accustomed to quick fixes (gains), but long-term vision is necessary for success and sustainability of companies.