Category The Design of Things. to Come

The Power of the New Renaissance

Companies that develop new products and services do their best to meet the needs, wants, and desires of society today. These needs change, and products and services that meet wants of the past will not perfectly fulfill future desires. No one can predict how society will evolve, but human beings have a hand in directing that evolution through the design of products and services. The common thread that connects the advancement of products and services, such as the OXO vegetable peeler and Starbucks coffee, to technology changes such as the Apple iPod for music delivery, to the Prius hybrid and future alternative-powered vehicles, is that they must be designed! These designs are all part of the human-driven evolution that exists in con­nection with or in spite of natural evolution...

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The Power of Shifts in the Global Economy

Ten years ago, the IDEA awards program coordinated by Business Week and IDSA went from being a U. S. product design competition to a global competition. The annual spring issue of Business Week that describes these award-winning products is one of the best annual showcases of business innovation. When the program committee con­sidered whether the competition should remain an exclusively U. S. competition, they found they had no choice but to make it interna­tional, because there were no longer any exclusively U. S. businesses.

Samsung develops products around the world and has developed products in the United States for a U. S. market. It is no longer clear what makes a U. S. product American and a Korean product Korean. The Honda you might drive is manufactured in Marysville, Ohio...

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The Power to Redefine Our Local Environment

At the next Powers of 10 of product development are issues that affect regions. one aspect of regional issues focuses on limited resources and our ability to seek ways to save resources or develop alternatives. William McDonough and Michael Braungart address energy loss and pollution reduction through economically viable approaches. They are creating manufacturing facilities and buildings that eliminate the need for waste inspection. When water coming out of a plant is cleaner than the water going in, the plant is beyond the standards. The environment improves, and the costs of inspection and rectification decrease. The point McDonough and Braungart are making is not to shoot for a world of compliance but to design around the issue altogether...

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The Power to Expand the Market

Jim Pirkl has “retired” from his job as a professor at Syracuse University, although retirement is really a synonym for a new career. Jim was an early proponent of universal design and coined the use of the word transgenerational, a term for products that span the gener­ations of needs. The theory is simple: As you live through the decades in your life, your needs and abilities change. The world already focus­es on the development of products and services for youth markets and for people of average or greater physical and mental capabilities. The average person peaks in physical ability in his mid-20s, plateaus in his 30s, and starts to lose ability after that. The rate at which one loses ability is a factor of genetics, environment, personal habits, and

accidents and illness...

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The Power to Redirect the Company

Xiangyang Wu was told that he would soon leave the company head­quarters in Shanghai to work for two years in the U. S. plant. His job is to help understand the needs of consumers in the United States. He had just finished working with a consultant from the United States who the company hired to teach them how to develop their own products. To date, the company had been a major supplier, man­ufacturing furniture for other companies in Europe and the United States, but it had not entered the realms of product design or mar­keting.

The company’s goal now is to develop its own furniture and cre­ate a unique brand and line of products for the United States...

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The Power of the Individual

Sally just started her new job. Her first assignment is to be part of a team to explore potential new business opportunities for her compa­ny. Although the company’s products are selling well and are its core profit center, all projections predict that profit will plateau. Growth has already leveled off. Sally’s team is asked to find new service opportunities using the company’s industry expertise from its prod­ucts. This way, the company’s products will still be a part of the com­pany but will be leveraged in a comprehensive strategy for servicing the customer, not just supplying the customer.

Sally will be working on a team of eight people, all from varied backgrounds. Her education has prepared her to work with diverse groups...

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Economy of Opportunity

Economy of Opportunity

The drive for innovation is being fueled at all levels of the human scale. At one extreme, empowered individuals employ their personal resources. At the other extreme, countries develop national programs to support innovation. Innovation is being applied to single products and to the development of cities. You, the reader, work and live on this scale and can innovate to the profit of your world. How can you enhance your own unique abilities and then connect with a team to produce something better than any one person could?

This book is about deconstructing the process of innovation to reveal the steps necessary to develop successful new products and services. It is about opportunity and the new global economy driven by that opportunity...

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Managing Design

The next issue is who leads soft quality in the company. Companies vary on how they manage soft quality. It may be centralized or decen­tralized. Companies can have one VP in charge or allow division man­agers to hire and coordinate design and branding as independent agents. A vice president or director from marketing may be asked to take on the design and branding assignment, or a new person from design, branding, or advertising may be brought in. Design and branding may be split with the former under the auspices of engi­neering and the latter marketing. Most of the senior management in companies today have been taught and worked under hard-quality (manufacturing-based) and cost philosophies...

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Hiring to Balance Soft and Hard Quality

The type of design developed at Product Insight, IDEO, and other top-notch consulting firms is a new level of practice, a meta level above the subfields of design engineering, industrial and communi­cation design, marketing, and computer science. On the one side, there is product design, communication design, interface design, interior design, and architecture; on the other side are computer sci­ence and HCI, systems engineering, electrical engineering, mechan­ical engineering, chemical engineering, materials engineering, and civil engineering. These two categories have long been viewed as polar opposites, with marketing, sales, finance, and strategy somehow living in the corporate space in between...

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Product Insight: Customer Research and Design

An important element that should underpin any of the tasks men­tioned in the previous paragraph is customer/user research. some hired consultants expect that the firm will provide the research, whereas other consultants conduct the research themselves. The research itself can even be outsourced; there are firms that specialize in the type of research that is critical for product insights, like ethno­graphic tools developed by anthropologists. Ethnographic methods include observation, in-depth interviews, and other methods of qual­itative user research. These techniques are complementary to mar­keting tools and are especially effective in the early stages of product development and for maintaining a healthy dialogue with customers...

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