I have the pleasure of interviewing people in all types of roles that can help product managers, developers and innovators. And today I get to bring you a discussion with the Chairman of the Product Development & Management Association (PDMA), Charlie Noble. I’ve been wanting to do this interview because PDMA is the professional association that first opened my eyes to the discipline of product management.
Charlie is also an award-winning professor at the University of Tennessee where he teaches design, innovation, and new product development. He has helped many organizations with product development and marketing issues as well as contributing to research in these areas.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Highlights from Charlie’s background…
- Charlie’s first formal experience in entrepreneurial and innovation activities was as a college student at Boston College as a founding member of an incubator for new businesses. He started four new businesses while at college.
- Quirky is a company that crowdsources the front end of product development by allowing anyone in the world to submit a product idea to a community for refinement and possible development. Charlie is working with a dissertation student on researching the decision-making process of selecting winning product ideas and discarding losing product ideas based on data captured from Quirky’s process. The results can help improve the managerial process of new product development.
- The biggest challenge companies face is balancing innovation actions, seeking radical innovations and continuing incremental innovations. Balancing the portfolio of projects is a challenge and companies typically are being too risk adverse and modest in their efforts.
- An exercise Charlie uses highlights the customer journey aspect of innovation. He asks students to dump the contents of their backpack and examine each item for how well it performs the function they use it for. This leads to appreciating customer experience in the value of products. The same exercise can be useful with your colleagues.
Highlights about PDMA…
- PDMA is about 90% practitioners and 10% academics. Charlie is the first Chair from academia in the last couple decades. His objective is to create value for both practitioners and academics.
- The Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM), published by PDMA, is the leading academic journal of new product development and innovation.
- Visions is a magazine published by PDMA that contains practitioner insights as well as actionable summaries of key JPIM articles.
- PDMA is driven by the objectives of learning and connecting, which reflects the needs of its members.
- Connecting is the network element that connects people so they can share ideas, explore other industries, and improve their careers. The national conference, the Product Innovation Management Conference, provides connecting opportunities as well as learning opportunities through keynotes and workshops. Regional conferences are also being created and several regional chapters already exist.
- Other learning opportunities occur through their publications, JPIM, Vision, and edited books; as well as the New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification. They also provide on-site workshops for companies.
- PDMA also performs a large-scale study every few years on the best practices of product management in companies.
- PDMA is a volunteer-driven organization and is glad to hear from anyone interested in helping the organization.
- PDMA’s website
- PDMA’s annual conference, Product Innovation Management Conference
- Information from me about the New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification
- Connect with Charlie on Twitter or LinkedIn.
“Innovation is enormously important. It’s the only insurance against irrelevance. It’s the only guarantee of long-term customer loyalty. It’s the only strategy for out-performing a dismal economy.” -Gary Hamel
Listen Now to the Interview
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