The company's top management needs to have an increased awareness of the areas of choice in product development management and the performance limiting practices in the company. It has to know not only how to modify the business and product strategies in response to changes in market and competitive actions; but even more important to act proactively through its own diagnosis of the need for change in technology or/and consumers. Management also knows from its own examination of the company as to how the company is performing in product development, who are the key individuals on which the product development is based, but it needs to also identify the knowledge and lack of knowledge in the company, and the financial and other resources needed. When top management has to introduce consultants and make drastic changes, then it knows that its management of product development has been poor. By continuous improvement integrated throughout the company, management can prevent this happening.
A company, and indeed an industry, can choose its own improving standard of development through the four levels of PD practice (Coughlan and Brady, 1995):
Lowest level: Product development is not managed and encouraged.
Basic procedures, management and motivation are in place. Product development is managed and encouraged as a key objective for the firm. Highest level: 'World-class' development performance is the norm.
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