Should students learn about the Product Lifecycle?

Should students learn about the Product Lifecycle?

Lake Geneva, November 2020
? Should students learn about the Product Lifecycle 

In a recent post, I mentioned the publication of a new book, Products2019: A project to map and blueprint the flow and management of products across the product lifecycle: Ideation; Definition; Realisation; Support of Use; Retirement and Recycling.
Last week I was invited by professors in two universities to talk to some of their Master-level students about the book. In both cases, the students were given some preparatory work to complete before the talk. They had to read the book, then write a short summary, highlighting its key points and describing their main learnings. 

Here are some of their reactions.
Learning about the product lifecycle  “This book enhances the reader's understanding of the different activities that happen in a company as products move through from beginning of life to end of life”   Credibility of the content   “The characters in the book are very close to what I see every day in my company”

“The characters in the book are very close to what I see every day in my company”  “I work in a similar manufacturing company, and I knew little about the product lifecycle before I read the book. By the end of it I found myself thinking of it constantly and referencing it.”  
“I identify myself in quite a few situations mentioned in the book”  About the book’s approach  “This is more like a story, not a textbook. There are several stories running. As well as the main story about the product lifecycle, I liked the story of how Jane thinks about and does things in her research project.”
 “The book was really good specially in a conversational format. It totally gives an idea about how a company operates and what exactly are the roles of different job positions.”
“I thought it was interesting to see how the book was formatted. Before reading the book I thought it was going to be like the course book we have been reading, but I liked how we got to see a real life example and perspective of how a product moves throughout its lifecycle. I also found it interesting to see how long the interview process was. Jane spent several weeks doing nonstop interviews for the company at different locations. It is essential to know what is really going on in the company and talking to the employees is the best source of information. I like how I was able to see the different aspects of PLM that I learned about in our course spread across the book. This allowed me to further understand what was going on.”
“The book discusses about the entire lifecycle of a product from its inception till the end, every aspect of it is covered and well documented with ample examples. The book is more an interesting storytelling than some boring description.”
About different components
“What I found most interesting about this book was the emphasis on people. So many different people were interviewed and so many different perspectives were captured, and this really brought to my attention the difficulty that large companies face with product lifecycle management.” 

“The entire story just showed how different everything is even in the same company. The different cultures. The different working styles and the different hierarchical roles in each country. And then each company having different processes and management styles for similar products. Just goes to show how big a PLM initiative can really come out to be.”
“Along with the people and time, the story also just showed how important models truly are. The team chosen did not have people from every area imaginable involved, and most of them didn’t work in the same plant or same countries. The only way they could possibly understand each other’s viewpoint was with models.” 

“I liked the way Jane interviewed everyone and collected information about product-related activities. Sometimes what we see is different than what is happening. The conversation with people can give a clear picture of the actual situation of the company.”“It was very interesting to read about the different interviews of people from different departments. One thing I learned from this book was about the overall product data management and the information flow of the product across its lifecycle.”
“The book tells us a lot about Product Development and Innovation and also Product Lifecycle Management. The knowledge one receives based off the book can be applied in different company initiatives like Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0. Overall, the book gives a good understanding about the issues faced by different people at different levels and how they are overcome. It gives an actual understanding of a company, the goals of the company and the roles people have.”
More generally  
“I am glad I read the book, thanks to my Professor.”  “A useful book. It explained many things I've heard about before but didn't know about.”  And last but not least  “The book is a complete gem. I personally enjoyed reading the responsibilities of all departments related or not related to the product. This has been a great experience overall.”

Thank you  
Many thanks to all the students for their hard work. It was a pleasure working with you and I wish you every success in the future.  A question for you  Now you know how the students felt after reading about the product lifecycle, do you think it's useful for Master-level students to learn about the product lifecycle?

The Author: John Stark 
                                    John Stark

 In the field of PLM, a thought and practice leader, educator, and consultant to more than 100 companies. Author of 18 books including "Product Lifecycle Management: 21st Century Paradigm for Product Realisation", the most frequently cited publication about PLM. PLM consultancy assignments in many countries and industry sectors. 
Providing PLM consultancy in: PLM Vision; PLM Strategy; PLM project management; PLM status review; PLM process architecture; process mapping/definition;  PLM application architecture; review of applications; application selection; Organisational Change Management.  Specialties: author of several PLM industry White Papers; frequent speaker/Chairman at PLM industry conferences and events.

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