Perform research on new product innovation. Select a new product that you will use for the rest of the course. Then answer the following questions in a 2-3 page word document:
Read the following articles to prepare for this week's assessment:
Source: How We Make Stuff Now: Turn Ideas into Products That Build Successful Businesses, 1st Edition ISBN: 9781260135855 Authors: Jules Pieri
2. WHERE DO GREAT IDEAS COME FROM?
No company or client wants to produce products for yesterday, or even today. They want "Wayne Gretzky" outcomes—to create products that can fulfill where the demand is going. Every product originates from an idea. And great product ideas often exhibit an uncanny prescience for solving a problem, like the "I just want to make a single cup of coffee" solution provided by Nespresso. Sometimes breakthrough products create brand-new behavior the way Fitbit did when it made it a social norm to count steps. Other times new products simply add joy and beauty to a routine activity, just as Method did when it gave pump soap products a contemporary makeover.
So how are these ideas born? How do people who are not professional designers get started?
During my years working at Playskool, advising the company on a product line and packaging overhaul, a trial attorney friend told me he could never do my job, saying, "Sitting down to face a blank screen or piece of paper every day would scare the crap out of me. How do you make something from nothing? Where do you get your ideas?" He envisioned my workday as a mysterious process of actively seeking stop-in-your-tracks lightning bolt inspirations. I told him I could never imagine succeeding in his job, which I simplified down to "getting paid to argue in front of strangers all day." I told my Perry Mason friend that when you are employed to generate good ideas, you develop a definitive and predictable process for being creative. Today people call that process "design thinking."
I will save you the trouble of researching design thinking as an abstract concept and boil it down to its essence:
Identifying opportunity. What is the business or customer area that needs attention? In the case of Fitbit, founders James Park and Eric Friedman saw an opportunity to help people improve their fitness with newfound access to individualized performance data. This breakthrough was made possible because of the advent of new, cost-effective miniaturized sensors.
Goals and constraints. Setting goals for a new product is an iterative process as the entrepreneur learns more via research. But a product like Fitbit could start with a list such as: "This solution must cost less than $100. It has to be convenient to carry at all times. It must be water resistant. It must not interfere with normal daily activities."
Research. Research involves studying the three Cs: customers, competition, and (internal) capabilities, as well as general cultural, social, technological, or natural trends that could influence the business or inform the product. For Fitbit the potential customer need was fairly vast: people who want to set and meet fitness goals. Investigation at the time of Fitbit's founding in 2007 would have yielded very little relevant competition, as existing solutions were cumbersome and required a customer to manually stitch together data from devices such as a pedometer, heart rate monitor, or calorie counter. Products that utilized the Internet to process data were barely emerging, such as SimpliSafe, an apartment security system that eliminated much of the cumbersome nature of existing services. Beyond technology advances, the founders could easily see that people were increasingly drawn to online communities and the gamification of ordinary activities—a big trend to draft off.
Ideation. This involves conceiving and quickly visualizing various concepts (you often see a ream of exciting raw sketches highlighted in the visual history of a product). Some founders draw their own concepts, while others engage a designer at this stage, but fancy renderings are not advised at such an early step. The original Fitbit was a thumb-sized clip, but it is likely that all manner of devices were conceived, such as necklaces, bracelets, credit card–sized devices to fit in a wallet, shoe inserts, and the like. Even if many of these ideas were not technically or economically feasible, the goal during ideation is to cast as wide a net as possible.
Rough prototyping and feedback. Rapidly and roughly prototyping concepts to get customer feedback comes next. Early- stage prototyping for a device like the Fitbit could be as simple as a nonfunctional foam version of a clip presented alongside a static set of graphic screenshots to show the type of data the device could collect. In other words, early prototypes help express the idea to a potential user without needing to be fully functional. Fitbit would have been looking for feedback on core interest in these new capabilities, as much as for feedback on form and function.
Advanced prototypes. The entrepreneur repeats the last two steps enough times to commit to testable prototypes that help her lock down on a single idea. Advanced prototypes usually look like the real deal, even if they are not fully functional. But the more functional, the better.
There is nothing in that process that requires long walks on the beach, consuming hallucinogenics, or locking yourself in a dim room with Mozart playing. It's a rigorous and disciplined process you can do right in the middle of a fluorescent-lit office, or in your kitchen, or at a coffee shop. Anytime, anywhere.
There are two deep secrets to this process. Success lies not just in a designer's ability to generate concepts. First, great ideas are entirely hostage to the information and stimulation the designer (or aspiring Maker) gathers to provoke their gestation. In other words, it's all about the goals and research. You can think of this almost like cooking. The better the ingredients, the better the food. Ideas need to be fueled by great inputs.
For example, I was part of a consulting firm team that engineered the famous Reebok Pump shoe, which allowed a user to inflate an internal chamber for cushioning and support purposes. After its wild success we were subsequently engaged to propose ideas for shoes that could help a person jump higher. The research project included a huge range of athlete interviews and observations and then exploration of springy or reactive materials, mechanical systems, and natural systems. It even included the study of what enables the best rebounders on Earth—fleas—to jump 100 times their body height. (That would be like a person jumping over the Eiffel Tower.) Only after that wide-ranging exploration did our engineer, Eric Cohen, sit down and start sketching ideas.
The second critical building block to generating successful ideas actually precedes the research described above. As Eric explains it: "The first step is to define the problem you're trying to solve very clearly. The Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen calls this 'the job to be done.' This clarity then narrows down the field of possible solutions and brainstorming activities. If you just start brainstorming, you lack context for deciding which concepts are best. If you can clearly articulate the problem, often the solutions seem to magically appear and become obvious. But getting to that point of clarity is the real challenge."
In the case of step one, "identifying opportunity," Grommet Makers do not approach this step like an established business would. Why? Because they don't have an actual business just yet. They aren't noticing sales slipping, doing heavy R&D that yields opportunity, or responding to competitive threats. They are just going about their lives. As such, they tend to stumble into either (1) a problem that vexes them and needs solving or (2) an emerging technology or behavior that inspires them to improve it or apply it in a new area.
In fact, only 10 percent of Grommet Makers have any professional experience in the area where they end up building a product. In an interesting parallel, in my capacity as an entrepreneur in residence at Harvard Business School, I observe that a great number of the students pursue the well-known degree and credential as a giant, and admittedly expensive, career reset button. Makers often experience their businesses in much the same way. They throw over or work out of established careers to pursue an idea. The business is going to be epic in terms of effort and opportunity cost compared to other easier ways they might have collected a salary. But the idea becomes an itch that must be scratched, whatever the cost. The idea is often the fuel for all of the late nights, financial sacrifice, and occasional skepticism of friends and family.
Prior to the 1960s and during cold winter months, produce was often stored in warehouses that were heated with kerosene. The heat kept the fruits and vegetables from freezing before they were shipped to market. As heat sources evolved, these warehouses became equipped with electrical heating systems. With that change came a surprising consequence for growers and commercial produce shippers: the fruit wasn't ripening. It turns out that kerosene gives off ethanol gasses, which help speed the ripening process.
Without the kerosene, fruit could last a bit longer in transit and in warehouses. And with the discovery of the unique relationship between kerosene and produce ripening came an understanding of how to slow the ripening process as well. If the ethanol gasses released from produce could be captured or absorbed, fruit sitting in a bin or box would ripen less slowly. So the cucumbers, lettuce, and peaches sitting in your fridge could last a bit longer if only the ethanol gas could be absorbed by something other than that same fruit or vegetable.
You may have seen those "eggs" that go inside produce bins, the ones that keep fruit and veggies fresher longer. Eric Johnson was part of the company that developed the egg-shaped gadgets that worked the magic. Inside the egg was a combination of naturally occurring elements that slowed the absorption of the ethanol gases and therefore slowed the ripening process.
The only downside was that the egg wasn't very popular; the shape was throwing off consumers. People were returning the eggs to the store, thinking they had mistakenly bought an Easter decoration. But Johnson knew there had to be interest in the actual function of the egg. He had hoped that the company would reconsider its design, but when that didn't happen, Johnson and his now cofounder and partner, Timmy Chou, started BluApple.
Johnson says he knew the components of the product—potassium permanganate, a bit of water, and volcanic ash—were essential: "It's a product everyone needs and no one knows about." Johnson and Chou designed their gadget as a small blue apple "because it's odd enough that it stands out. Your mind doesn't come across that very often," says Johnson. It's something people easily remember, and it certainly can't be confused with an actual fruit. Plus, Johnson says, "the apple is an iconic symbol, one that represents life, freshness, and growing."
Launched in 2009, BluApple is now in major retail stores such as the Container Store, Albertsons, and Bed Bath & Beyond, and in more than a thousand smaller shops that sell housewares. They sell nationwide in the United States, as well as in Canada and Australia. Johnson says the company is expanding internationally. "We do best where people are actually shopping," says Johnson, explaining that when people are rushing through a grocery store with a quick list they are less likely to stop and browse and consider a new product. Online sales are also growing. Johnson says the company started with just the simple BluApple and has grown to include other produce storage solutions. "We're looking for things in the same space; that is fruit and veggie storage," adds Johnson. The company is working on four other products to launch in the next few years.
A self-described serial entrepreneur, Daniel Patton was working in the optic industry and knew about a carbon-based technology developed by NASA that was responsible for cleaning the camera lenses at the International Space Station. In space, it's impossible to use sprays because of zero gravity, low temperatures, and the fact that cloths often damage lenses. The technology became essential as standard cleaning options were a liability at best. If you destroy a lens in space, you're in pretty big trouble.
Working on product development within the optical industry, Patton knew there had to be a way to take the same technology developed by NASA and bring it to the everyday eyeglass wearer. There hadn't been a lot of changes in the optical cleaning world in about 30 years. After much research into how the carbon technology worked and how it could be translated into the consumer market, Peeps was born: it cleans glasses and lenses perfectly without any scratches, smudges, or the need for wiping away a wet solution.
The product was launched at the end of 2016 and is sold in nearly 30 countries and is considered the number one eyeglass cleaner sold in optical practices in the world, according to Patton. "The industry really supports us," he adds. Peeps is in more than 12,000 stores and thousands of Walmart Vision Centers.
The company is working with luxury brand eyewear companies for co-branding opportunities. And they can customize the Peeps product to match fashion glasses in texture and design. "Our revenue is in the 10s of millions annually," says Patton. The company later added mobile cleaning products: a small device to clean the screens of iPhones, laptops, iPads, and more. While Peeps has been exploding, Patton says the team is working more on marketing the newer device cleaner.
David Cannington had been an executive at Sensear, a hearing technology company that specialized in industrial headsets, the sort that looks like earmuffs with large coverings over each ear and a bulky headband. Only this one was unique because the headset blocked out loud industrial noise and amplified the relevant sound. The technology enabled people in industrial zones to remain situationally aware because dangerous and distractingly loud noises were filtered out.
The main customers of this product were mining, oil, and gas companies. The users were people in rugged, high-noise environments. "When we put this on people's heads, they could not believe it," says Cannington. "They said, 'I want to wear this in my personal life.' "
That's where the idea for Nuheara originated. Cannington quickly left his first company and created a new one, based in Australia and San Francisco. "We really did start the company to make an impact on people's lives." To him, it was just about selling to different consumers for a different reason. Nuheara consumers are primarily people with mild hearing loss, and the product enables them to separate speech from background noise. The other audience is people who simply love new technological innovations and want great earbuds.
"It makes an immediate improvement in your life," says Cannington. "There's a pretty compelling wow aspect." This was something Cannington saw firsthand while working on industrial headsets, so he knew the interest and the appeal of the product was there. He simply wanted to convert that big, bulky headset into earbuds, a complicated process. The first prototype for Nuheara was made in January 2016, and the product went to market in 2017.
Nuheara launched with one earbud and by April 2018 had brought to market a second version. The latest product allows users to do their own hearing assessment, and the buds adjust accordingly. There is an internal calibration system. "It's a huge evolution in the sophistication of wireless earbuds," says Cannington.
The company has taken off, and Nuheara is sold around the world, including in well-known shops such as Brookstone and Best Buy and through Amazon. The earbuds are also available through audiology clinics, and Cannington says they are constantly in talks to help expand into new markets. As for growth, the founder thinks constantly about ways to improve technology and user experience. "We have to continue to bring new hearing experiences to our audience."
Basic processes for innoVation, product, and
For innovation to happen, it is not only of paramount importance to know what to do, but also how. Chapter 1 indicated how important innovations are, how important innovation management is for companies and engi- neers, and what types of innovation are distinguished. In between the con- ception of an invention or idea and the launch in the market, a product or service needs to be designed. This is generally called new product devel- opment or new service development. However, this term is relatively lim- ited because it is also possible to create innovations through improvement of existing products and services, which means that not all stages for new product or service development are followed. Therefore, some authors, for example, Hinckeldeyn, Dekkers, and Kreutzfeldt (2015, p. 480) and Riedel and Pawar (1991, pp. 321–22), indicate that engineering processes for new products and services may be better covered by the term product and service design and engineering. Sometimes, the text uses the term new product and service development, but this is almost always in the spirit of product and service design and engineering. Notwithstanding the different terms that it may cover, this chapter will look at the processes and methods (tools) necessary for the conversion of an idea into a product or service launched in the market.
To this purpose, this chapter will build on the concepts presented in Chapter 1 and goes into more detail about the processes for new prod- ucts and services design and engineering. Section 2.1 will briefly delib- erate on what engineering as a discipline covers; this includes basic cycles for generating new knowledge. Building on the contents of prod- uct design and engineering, Section 2.2 introduces the reference model for new product development that will be used throughout the book.
C o p y r i g h t 2 0 1 8 . M o m e n t u m P r e s s .
A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d . M a y n o t b e r e p r o d u c e d i n a n y f o r m w i t h o u t p e r m i s s i o n f r o m t h e p u b l i s h e r , e x c e p t f a i r u s e s p e r m i t t e d u n d e r U . S . o r a p p l i c a b l e c o p y r i g h t l a w .
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32 • innovAtion MAnAgeMent And npd for engineers
It contains a primary design and engineering process and a secondary design and engineering process. After a case study, Section 2.3 presents some well-known methods for new product and service development; these methods are not an exhaustive list, but indicative for methods that can be used during product design and engineering. These tools and methods are part of the decision-making processes during new product and service development; to this purpose, Section 2.4 presents some methods for decision making. Next, Section 2.5 goes into more detail about the differences between new product development and new ser- vice development. Finally, Section 2.6 explores product and service platforms and product and service families with the related modular product configuration.
2.1 engineering As A discipLine
The first question arises what engineering exactly is. In the context of (new) products, services, and processes, it is a multidisciplinary disci- pline, whether it is civil engineering, electronic engineering, maritime engineering, mechanical engineering, or any other of its domains. Take a telecommunications satellite as a case in point:
• Keeping it in orbital position requires an understanding of the phys- ics of movements and propulsion systems.
• Communicating with a base station requires amalgamating knowl- edge from physics, transmission of signals, and software.
• Processing of telecommunications signals depends on knowledge from software, electronic circuits, and physics of microprocessor design.
• Thermal stability relies on thermodynamics (note that convection does hardly work in space) and control systems.
Knowledge from all these disciplines is integrated into the design of one satellite, but may also require tradeoffs between those disciplines to make it work together.
During the design of processes, products, and services, the approach of engineering is teleological. Teleological means that these processes are purpose-oriented, that is, each object that is created serves a purpose for the user, companies, and society. In systems thinking this is often associated with the term function as a more generic concept of purpose. A function is an abstract description of the purpose of an object.1 For example, the func- tion of a calculator is to perform calculations. However, using a calculator
1 For a more detailed description of function, see Dekkers (2017, pp. 127–30).
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innovAtion, product, And service deveLopMent • 33
is not the only solution; there are also alternatives to perform calculations; cases in point are the abacus, the calculation ruler (also called a slide rule), pen and paper, and last but not least, the mind. All alternatives for a func- tion can then be evaluated against criteria. For the instance of performing calculations, these are accuracy, availability, cost, ease of use, and speed (but also portability could be used as a criterion depending on the circum- stances). Normally, the solution that is the best fit with the requirements is chosen; for the desk of a financial administrator, this may be a large electronic calculator, whereas a sales manager may opt to use a calculator application on a smartphone. This teleological thinking applies to com- plex products, assemblies, components and parts of products, or aspects of products, such as thermodynamics, strength calculations, materials, and dynamics, that need to be integrated to make it work. This brings about another characteristic of product and service design and engineering: only through realizing them, artifacts and objects can be evaluated against their expectations about performance. This points to a degree of trial and error, albeit purposeful. All this means that product and service design and engi- neering is purposeful (teleological), use multiple criteria for evaluating concepts and designs, and generate knowledge about products and ser- vices by using purposeful trial and error.
The latter, purposeful trial and error, indicates another character- istic of product and service design. The discipline of engineering is an inductive approach to science in two ways.2 The first is that, through trial and error, specific contingencies are investigated. An example is testing a design for extreme weather conditions. Outcomes of such testing, when not fulfilling requirements and expectations, may lead to adjustments of the design or even re-evaluation of alternatives that were discarded earlier. The second manner of using inductive research and experiments is the teleological evaluation of possible principle solutions or detailed designs against the functions and criteria, based on scientific and tech- nological knowledge. For movements, several principles can be used, for example electric, hydraulic, and mechanical propulsion; even magnetic levitation can be considered. An evaluation of these alternatives against criteria may lead to discarding alternatives or selecting the most appro- priate solution. Hence, scientific and technological knowledge is used in an inductive manner to select feasible alternatives based on criteria derived from requirements.
2 Inductive and deductive approaches are related to propositional logic. This is not to be confused with inductive and deductive reasoning (see Dekkers 2017, pp. 54–61).
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34 • innovAtion MAnAgeMent And npd for engineers
The necessity to use scientific and technological knowledge points out the hypothetico-deductive approach in addition to the inductive approach. In this perspective, often a distinction is made between pure basic research, use-inspired research, and pure applied research, respectively, associated with the discoveries by Niels Bohr (atomic structures and the quantum theory), Luis Pasteur (vaccination, microbial fermentation, and pasteuri- zation), and Thomas Edison (inventor of devices, such as the phonograph, motion-picture camera, and light bulb); see Figure 2.1 for an overview, which is called the Pasteur’s quadrant (Stokes 1997, p. 73). The disci- pline of engineering falls into the quadrants of use-inspired research and pure applied research. In addition to the classification of approaches in the development of scientific knowledge, the continuous motion of knowl- edge in the technological domain is captured by Figure 2.2. The figure shows that tools and practices for product and service design are based on design principles and methods (pure applied research). These meth- ods are derived from theories in a teleological fashion (and integration of disciplines), which is use-inspired research in Pasteur’s quadrant. These
Figure 2.1. Pasteur’s quadrant for scientific research.
Considerations for use?
l u nd
Pure basic research (Bohr)
Use-inspired research (Pasteur)
Pure applied research (Edison)
Figure 2.2. Basic cycles for the generation of technological knowledge.
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innovAtion, product, And service deveLopMent • 35
theories and methods are governed by methodologies based on postulates or assumptions; for example, a postulate is that software can fulfill more efficiently functions of control mechanisms that were previously embed- ded in electronic devices or mechanical artifacts. Feedback cycles com- plete this continuous development of technological knowledge. These cycles are instigated by assumptions or hypotheses that are consequently verified through deductive experiments and studies; this is called the hypothetico-inductive approach.
Consequently, innovation stems from the integration of disciplines, teleological character of product design, and engineering based on both inductive and hypothetico-deductive approaches for using scientific and technological knowledge. An example is the Dyson vacuum cleaner. Based on theories of vortexes to separate particles, this vacuum cleaner was developed into a commercially viable product. Using principles of undertaking research and development have led to basic concepts that were tested, to refinements implemented in the product design that led to further experimenting, and to conversion into a design appealing to customers. It should be noted that some of its claims, such as its sucking power, are better found in other designs, such as the Kirby vacuum cleaner. In the case of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, it most likely was the business model (see Section 1.3) that made the difference in terms of commercial success. For commercialization, Dyson exploited regular retail chan- nels, whereas Kirby relied on door-to-door salesman and word-of-mouth (direct sales, see Subsection 1.3.2 on business models); ultimately, this different approach to sales and marketing may explain the differences in market shares. This example demonstrates that the success of innovations is not only dependent on the right approaches to research and develop- ment, but also depends on how companies capture market shares through their business model.
2.2 reference ModeL for neW product And service deveLopMent
Thus, characteristics for design and engineering are how scientific and technological knowledge is used for new products a
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