Product Design and Development: Lost and Found Notes

Guest Speaker: Harry West of Design Continuum

Date 2-9-2006

Well, I know that t has been a while. But this was another hidden gem I found in one of my notebooks and needed a place to put it.

Design Continuum is a Boston based company in the business of Design and Innovation. It helps its clients innovate and beat the competition. Design Contiuum helps its clients establish


-Brand Communication

-Product Development

-Understand its customers

Notable Clients include

-ReeBok: DC helped Reebok design the 'Pump' to make 1Billion in sales and become the 3rd largest shoe manufacturer in the world.

-P&G Swiffer

-Pizza Hut and KFC in China

-Helped Pampers: Won the battle with Kimberly Clark

-Sprint win against Baby Bells

Firms have two strategies they can adapt:

-Be the lowest Cost provider


-In the US, it makes more sense to differentiate. When a patent expires, firms must look for new technology.

-One prime example of the low cost provider strategy is adopted by Dell. Apple uses the differentiator startegy.

-The design of a product directly influences the end user.Other factors include the underlying technology and strategy(how to work the plan.)

For instance Rebok placed the pump in the tongue of the shoe. Nike used an external pump, a decision made by an engineer. It had a 6 week life.

-Firms must understand people, the customers and the consumers.

-They can have a small base but must deliver high quality.

-Quantitative research is always available. What one needs is fresh insight.

-We dont know the Qs and As

-We must draw out issues from the customer with well posed questions

-We need to understand the customer's vocabulary.

-We must create Focus groups to do actual Qualitative Research. The key here is that

- No inference is allowed. Never wing it!

-To get a feel for the real issue.

-To develop a complex tacid understanding

-Usually unearth the issue from 5 to 10 typical customers.

-Decide on the following factors of the research -Type



-What to look for


-Who actually does the research.

-The research must be goal oriented

-There must be a direct connection with the design and innovation team.(Consumers do not buy research)

-Address the issues.

- What can go wrong?

- Is the solution scalable?

-Is it powerful enough?

-For any product,

-Do qualitative research first.

-Go back and forth between the product and customer base.This is an iterative process.

-Create a loose framework. Customize each engagement.

-Immersion: Use your own product

-Observe:Watch others use your product

-Conduct 'Day in Life Studies'to observe the lifestyle of the consumer.

-Conduct interviews; Find the needs of the Lead User. (Expert interviews.)

-Diary studies, beeper studies.

-Create focus groups

-Create Image response tests

-Conduct triads

Establishing brands:

-Conduct Interviews: Channel, Internet

-Brand Surveys

-Find Comparable products

-Find subjects: On the go, family and friends, kids, others

Inteview Protocol:

-Typically last 1-2 hours

-Find their time and activity framework

-Favorite activities/products

- Lifecycle


-Environment and Thinsg

A design must include features and experiences.


Create a connection between the consumer and the challenge

Try to find an end, not the means.

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