When I was in graduate school, I spent the better part of one day organizing our tool chest. In one drawer, I put all of our metric wrenches and sockets and then laid them out by size . Not only did it look tidy, but it was much more convenient to grab the right tool when you needed it. Everything had an assigned storage place and organizing the parts and pieces according to the job increased our efficiency in the lab.
People are what makes systems work. We assign roles and responsibilities within organizations to ensure that activities and tasks are completed. Similar to a tool chest, assigning job roles to different people ensures they are trained appropriately to conduct tasks as expected. The system itself often is less important than how the people assigned to various roles and responsibilities carry out their tasks within that process.
Wagile Product Development Reviewed
In the Wagile system of product development (read more here), certain roles and responsibilities are assigned to ensure an efficient product innovation effort accomplishes timely goals. As a quick recap, Wagile is a hybrid approach to traditional waterfall project management and the Agile philosophy commonly applied to software development. The advantage of Wagile over other new product development (NPD) systems is that it enhances the frequency of customer feedback during design and development. Another advantage of Wagile is that it applies iterative development within predetermined boundaries (e.g. budget and schedule). Finally, the biggest advantage of Wagile is enhanced communication and team collaboration. Read more about Wagile here.
Roles in Wagile
In every project management and product innovation system, it is critical to include customer perspectives, internal stakeholder viewpoints, and contributions of vendors and suppliers. The key roles of internal stakeholders in a Wagile process include the Project Leader, the Customer Representative, the Team Leader, and the Cross-Functional Team.
Because Wagile adopts the Agile philosophy, the process succeeds at improving time-to-market of new products by reducing hierarchy and bureaucracy. The role of Project Leader is much like a Scrum Master. The Project Leader serves the team to reduce barriers to efficiency and productivity. In addition, s/he interacts with senior executives, external stakeholders, and the Customer Representative to ensure the product development effort is on target. Some Project Leaders act in a dual role as a brand manager or product manager, tracking the overall life cycle value of the new product.
No product development project can be successful without customer input. The role of Customer Representative in Wagile is to build trust with customers, to collect end-user data, and to organize market research activities for the target customer segment. In Scrum, the voice of customer is delegated to the Product Owner role. (Read more about typical Scrum roles here.) Yet, in practice, the product owner often bypasses true customer insights and reflects internal priorities for project execution instead. A critical performance metric for the customer representative in Wagile is the number of external customer, consumer, and end-user interactions.
The Team Leader and the Project Leader are like an old, married couple. They work together to accomplish the project goals and complement one another. While the Project Leader often focuses on longer term strategic objectives, the Team Leader focuses on operational and tactical goals. The Team Leader is charismatic and builds collaborative skills for the team. S/he also manages the new product development scope, schedule, and budget but has autonomy for decisions for project outcomes.
Not all project teams are created equal. The Wagile Cross-Functional Team brings together the “generalist–specialist” mentality of Scrum team members while also capitalizing on the depth of skills needed in a traditional project team. While teams are generally small in Wagile as in scrum, scalability is less of an issue.
Small teams allow for quicker and better decisions, so Wagile uses intimate Cross-Functional Teams to complete the tasks of the new product development project. However, as product innovation advances to later phases and requires greater talent investment, sub-teams form to accomplish specific goals and objectives. Communication among Cross-Functional Teams (and sub-teams) is vital to the success of any project, regardless of the project management system.
Roles for Wagile Product Development
Like any system, Wagile product development relies on the people to do the work of the project and to progress toward goals. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of key players within the system allows each person to access necessary training, streamline workflows, and improve communication. Critical roles in Wagile include the Project Leader, the Customer Representative, the Team Leader, and the Cross-Functional Team.
Learn more about Wagile Product Development in my Webcast with PDMA on 10 September (register here). Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary 30-minute innovation coaching session.
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I am inspired by writing, teaching, and speaking at great professional events. I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. It brings me joy to help you build innovation leaders. Teresa Jurgens-Kowal is an experienced innovation professional with a passion for lifelong learning with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MBA in Computer and Information Decision Making. My credentials include PE (State of Louisiana), NPDP, PMP®, and CPEM, and I am a DiSC® certified facilitator. Contact me at email@example.com or area code 281 + phone 787-3979 for more information on coaching for entrepreneurs and innovators.
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