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Med Device

Culling the fields, reaping the rewards

Qualitative research
Quantitative research

Sprawling organic growth is great if you’re cultivating wild raspberries—but not so much if you’re suddenly responsible for bringing that one perfect juicy berry to market and have zero time and limited funds to get there. How do you decide which projects to cull and which to fertilize? How will you place your big strategic bets?

These were the questions our upstream marketing client was asking about the choked, unfocused R&D pipeline they found themselves newly in charge of. Fathom recognized that they needed two things: confident decision-making and new ways of working together.

Aligning around human-centered decision-making

We dove in to help the newly strengthened upstream marketing team, along with R&D, change how they worked to prioritize and develop new product ideas. As a neutral third party, we learned that everyone felt exhausted from spinning up new projects and chasing any new technology that seemed promising. With lots of empathy and little straight talk, we facilitated full-team alignment on a new way of working: only solutions that based on real customer needs—and that advanced functionality in a meaningful way—would be put forth for development and testing.

Establishing needs, weighing opportunities

Not accustomed to user needs research, the team was starting from scratch. We guided them through extensive global field research to understand what customers needed to get their jobs done. Weaving together qualitative insights with quantitative data, we established the highest priorities for the client to consider for the product portfolio.

Then came the real work—and the original question: What projects should stay and grow and what should be weeded out?  We gathered marketing and R&D in the same room and, in several “reconciliation” sessions, determined what projects to move forward, which to re-scope based on new information, and which to sunset altogether. And with new agreements about decision-making, team members felt safe questioning projects in flight and empowered to suggest a change indirection.

Decision-making with confidence

Prior to our work, our client struggled with communication and collaboration, and spent most of their R&D budget exploring solutions that didn’t align with what customers or the business wanted.  As a result of our engagement, the business can now:

  • Proceed with confidence on a handful of key projects, re-chartered to fully address the authentic needs of end-users.
  • Weed out projects that no longer speak to critical customer or business needs
  • Speak openly and safely about what their teams are working on and how they will come together to deliver something great for customers.

“I’m so impressed with what was done and your partnership in working with us. It was great to see everything come together, and I look forward to the many ways this will drive the strategy of this business.”

Director, Upstream Marketing