I graduated from university with a major in product development, and I also earned a PhD in the same field. After that, I worked as a head of development in the industry, launching several new products, services, and digital solutions to the market. Some projects were commercially successful, others were not. Afterwards, I realized that the reasons for project delays and launch failures were often internal to the organization, not external.

From a management perspective, I considered the economical and technical aspects of product development projects – how do you turn an innovation into a commercial package? I sought people’s commitment mainly through management and by collecting sales forecasts for each country in Excel spreadsheets. In simple terms, launches equated to email communications, product training and marketing campaigns.

Why is it that even the best idea does not always inspire the organization?

I remember being frustrated many times when other people didn’t share my enthusiasm and didn’t get the main idea. We often had conflicts with production, sales reps seemed to completely avoid the new idea, or at least didn’t try to push sales, and it was difficult to create a positive attitude. The challenge didn’t seem to be the idea itself, but rather the different goals and priorities, ┬álearning new things, and attitudes toward risk.

Change management lessons for RDI project management

Recently, I realized that I had never been trained in change management, and I did not really think of it as part of product development.

Now I have been working as a consultant for many years on strategies, processes and operational model reforms with a change management framework. This has led me to realize how much change management can also contribute to the implementation of product development projects. I am absolutely sure that the path to the market is much smoother, faster, less stressful and success rates increase when you include the lessons of change management in the basic toolbox of RDI project implementation.

So how is change management applied in practice in product development projects?

Through communicating, influencing and participating. By truly addressing customer and stakeholder needs. By holding facilitated sessions during the development stage to identify the motivation, needs and concerns of different stakeholders and proactively reduce the impact of adverse factors. Aligning common goals that affect the entire organization. Having the right people be accountable for sales and cost targets. The change management toolkit is extensive and includes solutions for many challenging situations.