Implementing design excellence
- Make a new approach to design excellence part of the development culture.
and marketing teamed up in creative forum for greater involvement and
Product Definition (MDPD®)
Lucia Buehler, currently group product director of the
Breast Care Division at Ethicon Endo-Surgery (EES), describes her company's
commitment to managing the process of change during the introduction of a new
approach to product development. At the time, she was marketing product
director and had been selected with two colleagues to serve on the design
excellence implementation team. EES used a model for change that it termed a
"change management adoption curve," which, according to Buehler,
helped drive awareness of the change process throughout the organization.
"We had pilot teams and pilot projects, but we also created a curriculum
for the senior management, so that people could see what we were doing at the
team level with support from the top down."
Buehler's team, which included dedicated staff from
operations, marketing, and R&D, worked together to develop the required
tools and communication. "We did a lot of workshops. We identified the
pilot teams. At the director level we had what I would call our sponsors, and
then at the board level we had the commitment around education and creating
"We branded and developed the communication plan; we
created posters, banners, and process maps that people could see the language
and understand the intent of the program. Then we developed subject matter
experts who could coach individual teams and we developed groups called the
synchronization teams. We had three synchronization teams that went through the
whole process, from transitioning the front end into R&D. We had a group
that looked at design intent and requirements development. The last group was
the V&V group, our validation and verification group."
EES made extensive use of internal coaches. "We had the
dedicated pilot teams and then we identified the subject matter experts. For
the different phases of the project, they would be what we called a kind of
'yellow pages.' If you had a question on, say, image diagramming, there would
be three or four subject matter experts you could call up and say, 'I'm in this
phase of Design Excellence, and I need to find out how to do this.' Or, 'I'm struggling with this concept, can you help me?'"
Assessment was another key element of the process at EES,
which assembled assessment teams that included sponsors of the initiative to go
out and interview and evaluate implementation teams. "So not only did we
provide this infrastructure," Buehler says, "but we went back out
with a team of senior managers and sat down with teams. It was pretty informal,
but the team would walk us through at a high level what they had done, and then
the assessment team would interview, ask questions." This feedback tool
showed exactly how the teams were moving along the commitment curve.
The key elements of the process -- developing a
common language via the branding of design excellence, creating the
infrastructure reference tools and procedures, identifying coaches, and putting
in place assessment teams -- ensured that what is now called "new product
development excellence" became an established way of doing business at