How to Make a Product
McKinsey Quarterly published an articles by Ananth Narayann, Asutosh Padhi and Jill Willams titled “Designing Products for Value.” The authors provide helpful case studies of three firms (names not provided) that designed and launched successful products.
Engineers and purchasers love product teardowns-the practice of dismantling products into parts as a way to spark fresh thinking. Few manufacturers, however, elevate the practice above Skunk Works status, and many executives pigeonhole it as a tactical exercise in cost cutting. Some companies, however, are throwing open the doors of their Skunk Works labs and using teardowns as opportunities to increase cross-functional collaboration. Along the way, they are saving more money, capitalizing better on customer insights, and improving the revenue potential of their products.
Corporate ethnography isn’t just for innovation anymore. It’s central to gaining a full understanding of your customers and the business itself. The ethnographic work at my company, Intel, and other firms now informs functions such as strategy and long-range planning. Ethnography is the branch of anthropology that involves trying to understand how people live their lives.
A rising tide of prosperity in developing economies is reshaping the nature of competition among global product makers, offering both the promise of new markets and the perils of having to face nimble, innovative, and highly ambitious rivals. In fact, the speed of newcomers (unencumbered by legacy issues) makes still more problematic an insidious challenge large manufacturers everywhere face when they try to innovate: insular thinking and functional disconnectedness that, if unchecked, can gum up product-development processes, drive up costs, and distract companies from paying attention to competitors-and, ultimately, customers...