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Guiding Questions for Your Project

Explore possibilities for a term project

The purpose of the teams working together is to integrate and apply the concepts from class to a term project that you could lead entrepreneurially as a new business or would like to help lead at your respective company.  Hopefully, it will be more meaningful and useful to work with other people and learn from their experiences and perspectives.  Think about a project that could be accomplished within a reasonable month time frame, where you would have a direct role in leading and managing it (perhaps with significant career advancement and accolades for a successful journey!)

The purpose of the group project is to create a plan that can help you start a new business or get a promotion when the plan is presented to investors or to your senior management.

As you think about your possibilities, please consider the following questions.

1. A Next Generation Product Architecture and the Product Line based on that Architecture: Can you design a next generation architecture that employs new technologies?  What are the benefits of that architecture relative to your company’s current offerings?   What are the new products that could be based on that architecture?

An Important Process Development or Improvement:Are there opportunities to dramatically improve efficiency or costs of an internal or externally focused process by applying the concepts of user centered design and platform development to your “users?”

A New Product Line or Service for a New Market Application. Are there emerging markets, or unserved niches within existing markets, that might be potentially addressed by current or newly emerging technology?  Can you grow revenue?  Can you conceive of a product or service line, a go to market strategy, a team and organization strategy, and an investment package needed for a successful outcome?  The boldest of the projects, this will require that you read and apply Chapters 9 and 11 in the Fast Path book.

Any one of these three questions is the basis of a term project.  Your project should – must – be focused on helping you get more knowledge and understanding in an area of work or responsibility that you would truly enjoy.  This might be outside your current product line, function, or service activity. You must also consider who might be willing to sponsoring executive that would be most interested in your project.  How can you attain access to that executive to “sponsor” your term project?  Most importantly, how do go about building credibility for your idea and show the market response through some aspect of market testing.  Do not wait till the end of the semester – try to get started right away !   

The Ideal Project Is One That Can Lead To A New Start-Up Or Increased Responsibilities And Promotion In The Coming Three To Eighteen Months.

We want the report to be of strategic value to investors or to your enterprise, something that you would be proud to present to your executive management team. All reports will be treated as confidential material. 

The types of projects most commonly performed are:

  • Creating the next generation product/service architecture that addresses unmet latent needs in your current target market.
  • Fixing an important process internal to your company that everyone knows is “broken,” costing the company lots of time and money.
  • Leveraging an existing architecture into new, emerging markets to increase revenue
  • Creating a new architecture and or platform subsystems that can be shared across products and/or processes to reduce costs
  • Improving core processes in manufacturing or service delivery that will offer "big impact" in cost of goods or delivery cycles.

Within these types of projects are plenty of room for market innovation, organizational innovation, and process innovation.   What might you do in this course that could lead to career advancement for you personally?

The format of the project should include:

Executive Summary (Clearly state the purpose of the project, resources required, and actions steps.  View this as a cover letter that an executive will read.)  Remember, most success start with a problem identification showing why your idea has value or important changes in the environment that now make your ideas not only feasible but are now important opportunities.

Main Content:

The User: (Internal or external) Insights into Needs, Current Solutions, Shortcomings.

The Next Generation Solution: Technologies, Products, Services, or Process (use architecture, subsystem scalability, and product line mapping frameworks from FastPath and other readings as appropriate)

The Business Case for the Solution: A projection of revenue, compared to development and market costs (operating margins); or a projection of cost savings, compared to development and implementation costs.

Business Model Implications of your Proposal. (This can include routes to market, structure and type of revenue, or fundamental changes to operating margin.)

Organization Recommendations (use organization templates where appropriate)

Action Steps, a Project Roadmap, and Budget

Use a selected number of frameworks / templates from the Internet or from Fast Path book to help you “tell your story.”  However, do not make your project an illustration of the frameworks.

The style of the project is an executive memorandum that is clear and concise, and contains exhibits that can be used in a presentation to executives.

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