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How product managers can take an idea to a market-ready product
This is fourth in the series on a product management body of knowledge I’m doing every-other-week. We are exploring the Product Development and Management Association’s (PDMA) guide to the body of knowledge for product managers and innovators. If you are unfamiliar with PDMA, they are the longest running volunteer-led professional association for product managers, existing since 1976. We started in episode 307 with an introduction to the body of knowledge, explored strategy in episode 309, portfolio management in 311, development process in 313, and now we are discussing Design & Development Tools. These are tools that are used in a product process to move from idea to market-ready product.
Our guest is Carlos Rodriguez, who is an associate professor of marketing and quantitative methods and also the director of the Center for the Study of Innovation Management (CSIM) in the College of Business at Delaware State University. He recently published a book, Product Design and Innovation: Analytics for Decision Making.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:36] You contributed to the “Product Design and Development Tools” chapter of the PDMA Body of Knowledge Guide. What is the purpose of that chapter?
The purpose is to guide product designers, product developers, marketing managers, and other innovation managers toward selecting the most relevant tools and techniques to take them from the ideation process to getting ready to launch the product.
[4:06] What are some Ideation tools you’d like to highlight?
Ideation tools are used to generate ideas for products.
- Storyboarding: Focuses on the development of a story about the consumers’ experience with the product or service. This technique allows us to understand the problems the consumers face in trying to connect with the product.
- Day in the Life of a Customer: Focuses on the routines, behaviors, and circumstances of users interacting with the product. This allows us to observe consumers’ behavior in natural settings.
- Journey Maps: Allow us to understand the customers’ process before, during, and after a sale. Recent data show that measuring the journey at the end of the cycle may not be a good indicator of the consumers’ experience.
- Ethnography: Allows us to find insights we might otherwise miss by observing customers in their environment.
[8:41] What are some of your favorite Concept Design tools?
Concept design helps us to better understand the value proposition that is meaningful to the consumer.
- Concept Engineering: Translates the voice of the customers into customer requirements—what exactly is the customer asking us? This technique avoids the mistake of trying to find a solution during the development process.
- Kano Method: Helps us clarify which attributes of a product are important and which are not, so we don’t waste resources or distract by including features the customer doesn’t value.
[16:32] What are your favorite Embodiment Design tools?
Embodiment design moves from the basic concept definition to more technical and economic criteria.
- Functional Analysis: Allows us to draw a map of all the functions that define a product. It’s a useful tool for communicating across cross-functional teams as the designers correct and improve functions.
- Function Analysis System Technique (FAST) Diagrams: Allow us to set the boundaries of the product.
[19:31] What are some of the Initial Design Specification tools?
In Initial Design Specification, we move into quantification of all the specific requirements consumers are looking for. These tools ensure the product satisfies the dictates of the design. Let’s be very clear that the design doesn’t belong to the designer; it belongs to the team supporting the new product development process.
- Design for Functionality
- Design for Production: Helps us be sure all the elements can be appropriately manipulated in production.
- Design for Maintenance: Allows us to market to consumers who often want to maintain their own products.
- Design for Recycling and Reusability: Reminds us to be aware that consumers are increasingly selecting products that are more environmentally-conscious.
[21:59] What are some tools for Detailed Design Specification?
Detailed DesignSpecification takes us to the details, particular features, and specifications that are important. During design, we need to communicate with other colleagues, and detailed design allows us to connect with engineering.
- Quality Function Deployment: Allows us to bring in the customer requirements from the Kano method and connect with the technical requirements. It helps us translate the voice of the customer into the language of the technical and engineering team. It allows a comparative analysis of competing products and allows us to define the cost of making modifications.
- Emotional Design: Helps us think carefully about which emotions we’re going to design into the product. It is not important what the product does for me—it is how the product makes me feel about myself when I use it.
- Kansei Engineering Method: Analyzes the meaning of words to customers and how those words trigger specific emotions. Our job as designers is to build an emotional relationship between the product or service and the consumer.
[29:49] What are some Fabrication and Assembly tools that you like?
- Functional Prototyping: Confirms that the product’s functions are effective, robust, and doing their jobs. If products do not satisfy functions, consumers are not going to buy them.
- Experience Prototyping: Takes us through the experience of using, assembling, maintaining, and/or adjusting the product.
- Design for Sustainability: Allows us to think about the sustainability of the product from several angles. Unfortunately we don’t yet have very concrete, robust measures of sustainability, but the PDMA Body of Knowledge provides criteria to use. We consider sustainability from the perspectives of service design, improvement, and material design.
- Product Sustainability Index: Analyzes sustainability effectively with a consolidation of several criteria.
Action Guide: Put the information Carlos shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Learn more about the PDMA Body of Knowledge at the PDMA Knowledge Hub
- Check out Carlos’s book, Product Design and Innovation: Analytics for Decision Making, on Amazon
- Get useful information from DSU’s Center for the Study of Innovation Management
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” - Albert Einstein
“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.” – Jonathan Ive
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.