The PDOS – What it is and how it applies to your business.


At EAC, we’ve developed a framework that looks at product development as a system. We call this framework the Product Development Operating System — the PDOS. (Shown above.) To understand how the PDOS framework functions, you must first understand the elements of a competitive system.

The first element of a competitive system is information. Competitive systems have both generalized and specific information. Generalized information covers the full suite of potential strategies and tactics — a playbook. Specialized information is general information that is selected to appropriately address the specific competition — the game plan.

The second element in a competitive system is preparation. Like any sport, practice tends to be a primary contributing factor in who wins the game. In the system sense, behaviors used in competition are rehearsed to develop deeper skills. As learning occurs during practice, ideas, strategies, and tactics are then added to the playbook.

Naturally, the competition itself is the final piece in a competitive system. All skills and knowledge developed through the first two parts of the system are then applied during the competition.

Looking at the framework, you notice that the three components of a competitive system comprise the rows of the PDOS framework. The columns represent the three tiers of the organization. Each tier of the organization has responsibilities that impact the systematic operation of Product Development.

The PDOS thrives on the flow of information. Knowledge is the value medium of product development and information is what flows through the system. A knowledge base that includes Product Development specific information technology tools like PLM systems, design tools, and simulation tools serves as the foundation supporting the other layers of the PDOS.

The preparation layer is where the “important” work happens. This is a sanctuary for continuous improvement. This layer is a core part of the Japanese system. In Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he talks about the division of the urgent work and the important work. He notes avoid letting the urgent work overwhelm the important work because, if that happens, the important work never gets done.

The preparation layer is what is missing from the western approach to product development. We have made an orphan out of feedback, which is the learning element that is critical to continuous improvement.

In Product Development, the competition layer represents the “urgent” part of our charter, the execution of product development or projects.  Process thinking organizations see the upper right hand box as “Product Development”.  Organizations that shift to a Systems Thinking perspective of Product Development put themselves in a stronger competitive position.