Paul O'Connor

Founder, The Adept Group


Paul O’Connor is a major force and creative voice in new product development (NPD). He works with companies setting up powerful approaches to innovation and product management. His clients include global companies across many industries.

O’Connor began his career with a leading innovation and strategy “Think Tank,” using what later became open innovation techniques. led and contributed to new products projects and innovation management initiatives at major corporations such as Exxon and Procter & Gamble. During that time, he collaborated with several pioneers in practices like project screening, staged development, and intrapreneurship.

O’Connor founded The Adept Group in 1984 which expanded to include a team of world-class professionals from many disciplines. The Adept Group services include capability maturity assessments, one-on-one coaching, and customized training. The firm focuses on helping organizations set up effective approaches and practices to drive product innovation productivity. Adept prides itself on expertly simplifying what O’Connor calls ‘the first derivative of new product development.” This, he explains, is the change needed to realize measurable gains from best-in-class practices and methods.

From 1990 to 1992, O’Connor served as president of the Product Development and Management Association. PDMA a leading proponent of best practices in NPD. During this time, he played a key role in shaping the first certification test for professional recognition in product development and establishing foundational research on best practices and NPD success criteria.

Paul has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and business publications. He was among the original contributors to PDMA’s first Handbook of Product Development (1996) and has continued to contribute to other editions (2008). He also provided material for PDMA’s 2004 ToolBook and was a contributing editor to R&D Magazine. His work has also appeared in the respected Journal of Product Innovation Management. His highly renowned 2018 book entitled “The Profound Impact of Product Line Strategy” lays out leading edge thinking to drive product development and management productivity.

O’Connor teaches master courses and is a frequent speaker at professional organization meetings and corporate seminars. He speaks on Product Line Strategy, Roadmapping, Portfolio Analytics, and NPD Productivity.

O’Connor earned a Bachelor of Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration from Babson College. Outside the office, O’Connor spends much of his free time involved in music. Using “specialized skills,” Paul also supports his wife Donna in her world-class antique dealership focused exclusively on canine-related objects of art and valued collectibles.

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