Implementing Product Development Methodologies across Cultures and Organizations
After experience at trying to bring various methodologies and ways of approaching product development to different types of organizations in different countries, and often not succeeding as well as I would like, I thought I would attempt at finding some explanations.
I currently think of 3 dimensions that are the most important in terms of how they impact a generic methodology or approach. This is not an exhaustive list, however, after much thought these are what I feel are the key contributors to success or failure of putting an effective methodology or approach in place within an organization.
CommunicationThe way that people communicate within the organization or team significantly affects the process of product or service development. Different cultures communicate in different ways, some more "open" others more "closed". Some "hierarchical" others less so.
Language can also be a problem, often nuisances are lost in translation. The same holds true when communication is between differing teams within an organization, i.e between the technical staff and the marketing department.
Key dimensions of communication:
- Open or closed communication
- Inter departmental or organizational "translation" issues
- Hierarchical communication path
- Conflictual or Non-conflictual
PlanningPlanning is related to communication, but the way in which planning is conducted and the hierarchy of stakeholders, how they get involved and who has the final say, differ. Also the way in which different cultures follow a plan differ, some might use it as a "loose" guide and others might use it almost in a "biblical" fashion.
Some organizations skip the planning stage or do not believe that it is needed or productive. Others won't do anything without a comprehensive plan, they may be paralysed by "not knowing".
Key dimensions of planning:
- Valued or Avoided ?
- Loose guide or biblical ?
- Rapid or slow ?
Decision MakingWho makes the decisions is very important, in some cultures the leaders has the final say and is not argued with, in others he is guided by staff. In some cultures even if an idea comes from a team and is well thought out, any idea that comes from senior staff is immediately seen to be superior (observations in Brazil). Other cultures need consensus (observations in Japan) and things cannot progress until the entire team is convinced of the idea.
Key dimensions of decision making:
- Leader driven or consensus
- Logical or political
- Rapid or Slow