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Discover the smorgasbord of tools for product managers and innovators
This is a little longer introduction than normal and there is a good reason for it, so bear with me for a moment.
In 2007 I sat in a small conference room with 12 other people. We were there to prepare for the New Product Development Professional certification from PDMA, the Product Development and Management Association. I wanted to learn what PDMA, the longest running professional association for product managers and innovators, said about product management. Studying for the NPDP certification was my way to accomplish this.
Seeing how they organized the many aspects of product management and made connections between them was a huge ah-ha moment for me. It connected the work I had been doing for many years and filled in holes in my knowledge and experience. I saw my work more clearly and even more holistically.
Needless to say, it had a huge impact on me. I found it so helpful, that after earning the NPDP certification, I created a virtual training program to help others learn the body of knowledge as well and earn the certification. Coupled with a PhD in Innovation, that is what got me started teaching product and innovation management.
PDMA’s body of knowledge is updated every three years now. It reflects relevant practices, tools, processes, and concepts that the best organizations use based on the most credible research and the deep knowledge of expert practitioners.
It has only been in the last few years that we’ve had the body of knowledge represented in a single book. Previously, the Body of Knowledge was expressed as a collection of many books and numerous articles. Now, the key elements of the knowledge are published in Product Development and Management Body of Knowledge: A Guidebook for Training and Certification. The second edition was published this summer, and I had the pleasure of reviewing it and providing editorial feedback; previously, I helped write portions of the first edition.
This is the start of an 8-part series to explore the Body of Knowledge. I’m publishing the series every-other week, with interviews on other topics in between. Each part of the series is with one of the 7 authors who contributed to the second edition.
Today we are joined by Dr. Allan Anderson, past chairman of PDMA and the person who led the development of the first and second editions of the Body of Knowledge. He has had a long career in product management, primarily in food products, and is professor emeritus at Massey University New Zealand.
I hope you enjoy exploring the PDMA Body of Knowledge and find it as helpful to your career growth as I did.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[4:07] Chad’s story of his lightbulb moment with PDMA.
While I was earning my PhD in innovation and working as a software project manager, I needed help with product management, and I stumbled across PDMA, the Product Development and Management Association. PDMA is a non-profit that has curated the body of knowledge for product managers and innovators since 1976. PDMA gave me a network of others doing product management and allowed me to gain insights from people across industries. I studied for the New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification, and that was such a lightbulb moment for me that I now train others to earn the certification. At that time, the body of knowledge was a collection of books and articles, but now, thanks to Allan’s efforts, it has been codified into a book, allowing people to get their hands around the material much more easily.
[7:05] Alan’s story of his involvement with PDMA.
I’ve been in product management my entire career, in many roles, but I didn’t even know much about PDMA until around 2007. I got involved when a colleague and I set up a PDMA chapter here in New Zealand. Since then I’ve been to every international conference since 2008, and I’ve been in nearly every role in PDMA, including president. When I first got involved in PDMA, I thought I knew everything about product development and didn’t need a certification, but I took the exam anyway, mostly to encourage my colleagues to do it. Two problems I encountered led to creating the book. First, many of the books and articles that contained the body of knowledge at the time were written in the U.S. and included American terms that were confusing to a global audience. Second, several of those books and articles were out of print, difficult to find, or challenging to read. I created the book as a single, 350-page reference book, making it much easier for people around the world to take the NPDP exam.
[10:37] What is PDMA?
PDMA is the only professionally-based product innovation organization globally. It’s made up of people from all areas of product innovation, across 17 countries, with difference experiences, ideas, and backgrounds in product innovation. For me, after 40 years in product innovation, discovering PDMA was a lightbulb moment because I realized that there were other people who knew more than I did or knew different things.
[12:59] What are some of the resources that PDMA provides?
- CPAS—performance assessment study that identifies the best practitioners in innovation and product management and the factors that make them successful
- The Journal of Product Innovation Management—the most highly regarded product innovation journal globally
- Outstanding Corporate Innovator Award—given to companies that show outstanding performance in product innovation
- NPDP Certification Program
- Global Community
- New Knowledge Hub
[15:41] What are the benefits of getting the NPDP (New Product Development Professional) certification?
The certification makes you aware that there are other ways of thinking about product innovation that you might not have thought about before. My intention when I’m teaching NPDP is to encourage people to get enthusiastic about product innovation and learn more. Getting the certification doesn’t mean you know everything; it’s the start of your journey. Although the certification exposes you to foundational ideas, we find that most people pursuing certification have significant experience in product innovation.
Benefits of NPDP certification for:
- Individuals: Gives the starter tools, framework, and philosophy, and teaches practices and processes.
- Management in companies: Identifies individuals who have the fundamentals to enhance product innovation in their company.
- Whole organizations: Leads to better product and innovation performance.
[20:03] What is the value of the PDMA Body of Knowledge (BoK)?
The BoK shows product managers where they fit into the big picture of their company. NPDP and the BoK is a holistic approach to product management. The BoK is now contained in the only single volume that covers the whole picture of product innovation.
[23:51] Take us through a brief summary of the seven knowledge areas of the Body of Knowledge.
- Strategy: Gives overall context for the company and product innovation.
- Portfolio management: Choosing the right mix of projects in the context of the company’s goals, mission, and strategy.
- Product innovation process: Choosing the right process to take you from the initial product idea to the product launch.
- Product design & development tools: Design of the product.
- Market Research
- Culture, Teams and Leadership
- Product Innovation Management: The role of product management in product innovation; focus on product lifecycle.
The BoK is a smorgasbord for product managers and innovators, introducing them to tools and practices and showing how these tools and practices relate to other aspects of product innovation.
Action Guide: Put the information Allan shared into action now. Click here to download that Action Guide.
- Connect with Allan on LinkedIn
- Learn more about PDMA at pdma.org
- Check out the PDMA Body of Knowledge book on Amazon
“Innovation is the successful exploitation of ideas.” – Allan Anderson
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.