Managing the external forces in new product development
New product development teams are usually so focused on tasks and milestones that they can overlook important external issues. On any given project, the roles of Listener, Integrator, Coordinator, and Influencer are filled by everyone on the team. The Listener provides 'ears' to the street and within the organization; the Integrator creates the team's memory and facilitates process and dialogue; the Coordinator manages team activities with external stakeholders; and the Influencer creates a positive image of the product. An event chart is a tool which shows project progress plotted against likely occurrencesin the team's external environment. Use of such a chart, and the holding of regular reviews of external forces, will help to ensure consistent management support for new product development projects.