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Creating Breakthrough Products: Innovation from Product Planning to Program Approval

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Creating Breakthrough Products: Innovation from Product Planning to Program Approval


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  • Techniques for identifying breakthrough opportunities—Exclusive new analysis techniques draw upon deep insight into social, economic, and technological forces to identify opportunities for extraordinary success, e.g., Sony Walkman.
    • Helps students become far more effective in identifying significant market opportunities. Ex.___

  • Today's seven most important value-adds—Identifies and illuminates seven key opportunities to add value: emotion, aesthetics, identity, ergonomics, impact, technology, and quality.
    • Helps students quickly and systematically determine how their products or services will differentiate themselves. Ex.___

  • Extensive case study focus—Presents in-depth case studies of more than a dozen of today's most important product and service breakthroughs.
    • Shows students how the book's product innovation techniques work in real business environments. Ex.___

  • Broad applicability in both consumer and industrial markets—Identifies principles that can be used in any market, for any potential product or service.
    • Gives students techniques and skills they can use wherever their careers take them. Ex.___

  • Extensive coverage of early-stage product design—Focuses heavily on the “fuzzy front end” of the design process: research, prototyping, and making go/no-go decisions.
    • Provides practical solutions for the most challenging stages of the product design process. Ex.___

  • Key factors associated with successful innovation—Draws upon the latest research to identify the characteristics today's most successful products and services have in common.
    • Provides a realistic contemporary framework that students can use to evaluate any new product or service idea. Ex.___

  • Systematic approach to understanding customer values and lifestyles—Presents powerful new methods for identifying the key characteristics of “flesh and blood” customers that determine whether a new product succeeds, and shows how to translate this understanding through sophisticated product styles and features.
    • Helps students master and internalize a customer-centered approach to product design that is crucial to long-term success. Ex.___

  • New insights into leveraging product team diversity—Shows how to take full advantage of the ideas and viewpoints of a widely diverse product team.
    • Helps students understand the roles of engineers, industrial designers, interaction designers, market researchers, planners, and marketers in product design. Also helps students develop products more successfully in today's diverse and global business environments. Ex.___


  • Copyright 2002
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-969694-6
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-969694-7

Creating Breakthrough Products identifies key factors associated with successful innovation, and presents an insightful and comprehensive approach to building products and services that redefine markets -- or create new ones. Learn to identify Product Opportunity Gaps that can lead to enormous success; control and navigate the "Fuzzy Front End" of the product development process; and leverage contributions from diverse product teams -- while staying relentlessly focused on your customer's values and lifestyles.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Identifying New Ideas for Breakthrough Products

Table of Contents

1. What Drives New Product Development.

Redefining the Bottom Line. Identifying Product Opportunities: The SET Factors. POG and SET Factor Case Studies.

2. Moving to the Upper Right.

Integrating Style and Technology. Style vs. Technology: A Brief History of the Evolution of Style and Technology in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Middle Class and the Height of Mass Marketing. Positioning Map: Style vs. Technology. Positioning Map of Starbucks. Knockoffs and Rip-offs. Revolutionary vs. Evolutionary Product Development.

3. The Upper Right: The Value Quadrant.

The Sheer Cliff of Value-The Third Dimension. Value Opportunities Value Opportunity Charts and Analysis. The Time and Place for Value Opportunities. The Upper Right for Industrial Products.

4. The Core of a Successful Brand Strategy: Breakthrough Products and Services.

Brand Strategy and Product Strategy. Corporate Commitment to Product and Brand. Corporate Values and Customer Values. Managing Product Brand. Starting from Scratch: Iomega. Maintaining an Established Identity: Harley. Brand and the Value Opportunities.

5. A Comprehensive Approach to User-Centered, Integrated New Product Development.

Clarifying the Fuzzy Front End of New Product Development. User-Centered iNPD Process. Resource Allocation.

6. Integrating Disciplines and Managing Diverse Teams.

User-Centered iNPD Facilitates Customer Value. Understanding Perceptual Gaps. Team Functionality. Part Differentiation Matrix. Issues in Team Management: Team Empowerment. iNPD Team Integration Effectiveness.

7. Understanding the User's Needs, Wants, and Desires.

Overview: Usability and Desirability. An Integrated Approach to a User-Driven Process. Scenario Development (Part I). New Product Ethnography. Lifestyle Reference. Ergonomics: Interaction, Task Analysis, and Anthropometrics. Scenario Development (Part II). Broadening the Focus. Product Definition. Visualizing Ideas and Concepts Early and Often. Research Acknowledgements.

8. Case Studies: The Power of the Upper Right.

Overview of Case Studies.

9. Automotive Design: Product Differentiation through User-Centered iNPD.

The Dynamic SET Factors of the Auto Industry. The Design Process and Complexities. Breaking Down the Process. Positioning: Product Differentiation. The Retro Craze. A Case Study of iNPD at Carnegie Mellon University. Implications of User-Centered iNPD on the Auto Industry.

Research Acknowledgments.


Future Trends.

Have Faith in the Leap.





For nearly a decade, we have worked as a team in teaching, research, and consulting. As a result, we have developed a unique understanding of the product development process. We constantly identify and analyze examples of successful products, many illustrated in this book, and look for new techniques for user-centered research and integrated New Product Development (iNPD). We have come to believe that breakthrough products should provide an optimum experience for the people who buy and use them. They should also provide an equally rewarding and gratifying experience for the product development teams who create them.

We have been consultants to and conducted research with small and large companies. We have also conducted professional development seminars in iNPD. During this time we have also co-taught an annual course in integrated New Product Development at Carnegie Mellon University, which has resulted in patented products. Through our consulting, research, and teaching we have identified a number of factors that contribute to successful products. We are not just talking about products that are competitive but products that redefine their markets and often transcend their original program goals to create new markets. This book summarizes our findings in a form that will aid practitioners and managers in the product development process.

This book is a proof of our process. We began by identifying the opportunity for a book by recognizing the difficulty that companies have in working through the early stages of product development. We did extensive research, building on our existing base, to understand what managers and practitioners who create new products (our target market) required in their process that they did not already have. The focus on breakthrough products, the integration of disciplines, the merging of style and technology, and the creation of true consumer value, all at the Fuzzy Front End, became the themes that drove the development of this book. We identified expert users who had the vision and insight to help us identify critical issues and weed through many ideas. We created prototypes that these expert users read and used to provide feedback. After several iterations, we moved into the design refinement stage to finally deliver what we hope is a useful, usable, and desirable book to help you create breakthrough products.

What to Expect from This Book

In this book you will find some new ideas in product development. You will also find seasoned best practices used by large or small companies. We have integrated these different approaches into a logical framework that takes you from product planning to program approval. You can expect to gain an understanding of the following six aspects of the new product development process:

  1. methods to obtain insights into emerging trends in consumer and industrial markets;
  2. a means to navigate and control what is often called the "Fuzzy Front End" of the product development process, that portion of the design process when the product and market are not yet defined and qualitative tools are needed to complement quantitative research;
  3. the use of qualitative research to understand who the customer is;
  4. techniques to assist in the integration of diverse team players, especially engineers, industrial and interaction designers, and market researchers and planners;
  5. a complete product development process that brings the product from its opportunity identification stage through to program approval and product patenting;
  6. an approach that connects strategic planning and brand management to product development.

We then provide case studies that demonstrate the successful use of the methods introduced in this book. We show that these methods apply to both products and services.

The book's logical flow is designed to provide a useful guide for anyone involved in the product development process. Readers can also use the book by first scanning and then focusing on the areas initially perceived as most relevant. In either case, we have tried to make sure that the book is interconnected and cross referenced so that issues addressed in one part are referred to again in other parts.

The book is divided into three main sections. The first section (Chapters 1-4) establishes our main argument that the best new products are designed by merging style and technology in a way that connects with the lifestyle and values of intended customers. The second section (Chapters 5-7) presents a process for creating such products by integrating different disciplines with a focus on the needs, wants, and desires of the customers. The final section (Chapters 8 and 9) provides additional case studies as further support of our argument and its application to several product categories.

Chapter 1 explains the forces that generate opportunities for new product development. This chapter introduces the process of scanning Social, Economic, and Technology (SET) Factors that leads to Product Opportunity Gaps (POGs) and new market segments. Four case studies of successful companies and the products or services they deliver are used to illustrate this process: the OXO GoodGrips, the Motorola Talkabout, the Crown Wave, and the services provided by Starbucks coffeehouses.

Chapter 2 outlines our major premise. In order to produce new products, a company needs to commit to "Moving to the Upper Right." This phrase represents an integration of style and technology through added product value based on insight into the SET trends that respond to customers' emerging needs for new products and services. Our Positioning Map is introduced to model and map Upper Right products.

Chapter 3 focuses on consumer-based value and further refines product opportunities into what we call "Value Opportunities" (VOs). We have identified seven Value Opportunity classes—emotion, aesthetics, identity, ergonomics, impact, core technology, and quality—that each contribute to the overall experience of the product. The challenge is to interpret the VOs and their attributes and translate them into the right combination of features and style that match with current trends.

Chapter 4 discusses, through corporate and product branding, how to make Moving to the Upper Right a core part of a company's culture. Products and services are the core of a company's strategic planning and brand strategy and they should be driven by the theme of user-centered interdisciplinary product development. The establishment of a clear brand identity necessitates the integration of customer values with company values in a way that differentiates a company and its products in the marketplace.

Chapter 5 is devoted to the planning of product development programs through the presentation of an integrated New Product Development — iNDP — process for the early stages of product development (i.e., the Fuzzy Front End). Most product programs go through a stage where the product opportunity is researched, prototyped, and evaluated. Many companies, however, do not have clear methodologies for this frequently underdeveloped stage of the product development program costing them significant resources. The process we have developed helps companies navigate and control this process by keeping focus on the user. The process is broken into four phases that brings the development team from the stage of identifying opportunities to the program approval stage where intellectual property is protected.

Chapter 6 focuses on team integration and management. Effective interaction of disciplines is integral to the product development process. We describe how team members, and in particular designers and engineers, can work in a context of positive tension where they use their different perspectives to a competitive advantage for the whole team. We also lay out a strategy for breaking down actual parts and components of the product and, by understanding their impact on customer lifestyle and complexity, determining where integration is required to effectively design them. The chapter concludes with insights on how to manage interdisciplinary teams.

Chapter 7 focuses on developing a comprehensive approach to understanding the user's behavior. We discuss the use of existing and emerging methods for understanding how consumers use products and translating that understanding into what we refer to as "actionable insights," which become the basis for developing appropriate product characteristics. These approaches empower the product development team to translate customer preferences into appropriate style, ergonomics, and features.

Chapter 8 highlights nine additional case studies of successful new product development representing a range of product and service categories and types of product development teams.

Chapter 9 highlights the user-centered iNPD process for automobiles, a particularly complex and exciting consumer product market. The Epilogue concludes with a look at future trends for new product development and final thoughts on why companies should commit to use of the iNPD process.

User's Guide

Through our many interactions with industry, people have asked us questions that relate to their product development problems. We have answered many of them in this book. In this section, we list these questions together with pointers to the chapters where they are answered. Readers with a specific issue may want to begin the book here. They are divided into five areas: 1) how to get started; 2) how to become user-driven instead of technology driven; 3) how to balance team, people, and discipline interactions; 4) how to commit the time, money, and people for an integrated New Product Development (iNPD) process; and 5) how to succeed in the marketplace.

I. How to Get Started

How do you learn a successful user-centered iNPD process? The whole book
What is the Upper Right? Chapter 1
What does it mean to design for fantasy? Chapter 1
How do you jumpstart the process? Chapters 1 and 5
What is the Fuzzy Front End? Chapter 5
How do you develop a core competency that separates you
from your competitors? Chapters 5 and 7
Why is quality for manufacture no longer enough? Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4
How do you balance up-front research and development with
downstream refinement in the product development process? Chapter 5

II. How to Become User-Driven Instead of Technology-Driven

How do you know when you have a true product opportunity? Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 5
How do you get beyond being tech driven? Chapters 5 and 7
What is ethnography and how do you use it? Chapter 7
How do you determine the user value in different parts of a product? Chapter 6
How do you design for a full sensory experience? Chapters 3 and 5
How do you successfully use qualitative research to understand Chapters 5 and 7
the needs of a user?
How do you use psycheconometrics to determine what users want Chapters 3 and 7
and what they will pay for it?

III. How to Balance Team, People, and Discipline Interactions

How do you plan and manage an effective product Chapter 5
development process?
How do you prevent turf battles from having a negative effect Chapters 5 and 6
on the product development process?
How do you maintain an interdisciplinary approach that keeps Chapter 6
different disciplines communicating effectively?
How do you get team members to respect each other's capabilities? Chapter 6
How does team integration affect career development for individuals? Chapter 6
How do you effectively partner with suppliers? Chapters 6 and 9

IV. How to Commit Resources to an iNPD Process

How do you determine how much time, money, and personnel Chapter 5
to commit to the iNPD process?
How do you know how long it will take to address the Fuzzy-Front End? Chapter 5
How do you meet deadlines within the product development process? Chapter 5
How do you integrate industrial, interface, and communication Chapters 1, 5, 6, 8, and 9
design into your company's product development process?

V. How to Succeed in the Marketplace

How do you create a product that reaches the majority of customers Chapter 5
in the marketplace?
How do you gain confidence that the product warrants the capital investment? Chapters 1, 5, 8, and 9
How do you balance being cost-driven and being profit-driven? Chapters 3 and 6
Have there been any successes from this approach? Case studies throughout book, especially Chapters 1, 2, 4, 8, and 9
How does the development of services differ from that of products? Chapter 1
How can you develop a brand strategy that integrates your products and services with your corporate structure? Chapter 4


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