Norway is a Lean Leader? Who Knew?

One of the global leaders in getting new products to market quickly is… Norway.


Yes, according to a new study by the Center for Global Innovation at the USC Marshall School of Business.

According to Industry Week, the Center found that Japan and Norway both introduce products faster than the United States. I would expect Japan to be in that position, but Norway took me by surprise. What do they make in Norway?

By the way, before anyone starts nitpicking about my headline on this posting, no, the study did not actually talk about lean, just time to market. So yes, maybe my headline is stretching things a bit.

How did the two professors who conducted the study – Gerard Tellis and Deepa Chandrasekaran – come to their conclusions? The Industry Week article says the study is “based on 430 product categories over 50 years in 31 nations.” It doesn’t say exactly how time to market was measured.

That makes me wonder. Fifty years is an awfully long time, and I don’t know how, if at all, the study takes into account improvements that might have occurred during that time in the processes by which products are brought to market.

Also, there is only so far you can go in drawing conclusions about entire countries. Companies, not countries, bring products to market. The findings may lead to some insights about how national cultures affect business cultures and operations, I suppose.

Still, I find this interesting. There was also one other interesting, if not too surprising, finding:

The study also concludes that time-to-takeoff of new products varies greatly between products considered "fun," such as cell phones, with a distinctly shorter takeoff than those products equated with work, including clothes dryers.

What does it all mean?

The report could help companies develop strategies for launching new products. "Managers are facing an intensely competitive market, characterized by increasing globalization, more frequent new product launches, and shorter life cycles," Tellis says. "In such markets, they need to know which nations are most innovative, where to launch new products, and whether to do so with a sprinkler (simultaneous across nations) or waterfall (stagger across nations) strategy."

Perhaps. Any insights that can help a company be more competitive are useful.

And maybe you can find those insights in Norway.

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