How to Use Lean Sigma Principles for a Flawless Product Launch

By Karen Loggia

In my junior high school math class, I was presented with a familiar word problem:

You are making breakfast.

You want your egg, toast and coffee all ready at the same time. 

How do you do it?

The answer, of course, requires starting with the desired outcome then working backwards, in a “Seinfeld”-esque manner, so that you start everything at the right time.

Timely Product Launches

Product launches can be similar. Typically, product launch timing is driven by the earliest date a product is approved to go to market. Once that date is identified, marketers need to be ready to launch. We know that this is no small task; many things need to be completed at the same time PLUS we need to be able to quickly react to changes in the market, competitive pressure, or simply new information.

Successful Product Launches

During a recent successful product launch, I found inspiration in three concepts driven by Continuous Improvement and Lean Methodologies that led me to a near flawless launch:

  • Lean philosophy is clear: Cut out waste and eliminate unnecessary steps. In marketing, we follow the same idea using the COPE approach. Create Once, Publish Everywhere. Choose your images. Write your copy. Find ways to use it again and again.
  • Let’s get on the same page, literally. Product positioning documents are critical for marketers to build alignment and speak about our products in a consistent voice. A3s and project charters are similar. They get everyone nodding in agreement and discourage veering off course.
  • Plan – Do – Check – Act (PDCA) is as important as breathing to some Lean Sigma and Continuous Improvement devotees. Marketers have our own PDCA opportunities, too! A robust launch plan outlines what, who, when and where so that no one or no thing is left behind. Do represents executing the plan - things like marketed-supported sales training, internal marketing and all the customer-facing activities that can ensure a smooth launch. Check represents the follow-up scorecard review, phone calls, emails, meetings and education to ensure the product launch has the proper follow through. Lastly, Act can mean updating our launch documents and Standard Operating Procedures for future use so that we learn and improve with every launch.

Marketing is a creative field that demands constant innovation. When marketers combine the spirit of creativity along with the discipline of Continuous Improvement and Lean Methodologies, we are unstoppable!

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