Our story is a bit of an acronym soup with PIE, NPDP, CIL, PDMA, AIPPM, and others floating around. PIE (Product Innovation Educators) initially came into existence to solve an important problem for Rocky Mountain PDMA (the Denver-based chapter of the Product Development and Management Association). The problem was how to provide members high-quality NPDP preparation at a reasonable cost. Chad McAllister was the VP of Education for the chapter at the time and is the founder of PIE. Consequently, our story emerges from Chad’s career experiences and his struggle with creating successful products.
Like many professionals, as Chad’s career grew so did his responsibilities. After graduating college in Electrical Engineering, Chad found himself managing software development projects. This was not exactly what he had planned to be doing and his EE education and training was helpful but insufficient for the task. Being a bit of a bookworm, he read extensively on software project management and applied key concepts. This helped, but not enough — the small company he was working with moved quickly and effective project management was vital. He investigated the Project Management Institute (PMI) and began networking with other project managers. PMI provided more valuable information and knowledge of project management. This helped, but only for a period of time. He learned that it was not enough to complete a project as this was only one part of the value chain. Many other questions were coming up — how to best market the product, will the product really meet the customers’ expectations and solve their problems, what is the forecast for sales, how much time is needed before the product pays for itself, etc?
The PDMA and NPDP Certification Influence
The cross-functional nature of product development was becoming increasingly important. PMI had a helpful body of knowledge for project management, but a broader body of knowledge was needed that incorporated market research, competitive analysis, team dynamics, sales, and more. This led Chad to PDMA, an international organization for product developers and managers. They offered a certification in new product development called the New Product Development Professional. The body of knowledge for the NPDP exposed people to a broad understanding of issues product developers encounter, such as strategy, NPD process, portfolio management, research, team management, and metrics. Learning this knowledge and becoming NPDP certified offered real value and improved product development efforts.
Chad became the VP of Education for Rocky Mountain PDMA. The chapter already had a successful NPDP study group program, a pilot created by an extraordinary innovator, Lynne VanArsdale. The program was a model for PDMA chapters to follow. Overtime, participants in study groups were asking to make the experience more concise and less costly. Chad developed study materials to take the place of many of the books and articles. The quality of the materials increased and ultimately they were able to be the focus of the study group, removing the need to bring in an outside trainer, saving participants several hundred dollars and avoiding a two-day face-to-face workshop. Many study groups later, the NPDP prep has evolved and improved to take the form of the online course offered by PIE – learn more about it here.
AIPMM and CIL Certification – Continuing Innovation
While NPDP provides a critical foundation of knowledge for people involved in product development, more skills are needed to manage and navigate what is often called the fuzzy frontend. Also, current best-practices in innovation needed to be addressed. Chad discussed these issues with Therese Padilla, the president of the Association of International Product Marketers and Managers (AIPMM). AIPMM already offered a few training and certification programs and had also identified a need for professionals to gain knowledge of innovation practices. The timing was right and Chad joined a group that developed the Certified Innovation Leader (CIL). A broad body of knowledge focused on innovation best practices is embodied in CIL and now reflected in the AIPMM ProdBOK. Leveraging previous study group skills as well as deep experience as an online professor for leading universities, Chad and colleagues created an online course to prepare for the CIL credential – learn more about it here.
Thank You Product Managers & Innovators!
Along the way in this journey of learning more about innovation practices and helping others to learn them also, Chad met a number of knowledgeable professionals with similar interests. Some of them have become PIE contributors and partners and the number continues to grow. We are thankful to all those who recognize how innovation drives the success of organizations, from the sole proprietor to the Fortune 500. We love to see people innovate and create market-winning products.