Design Phase Product Development

Don’t let the creative urge design a Hummer when your customer is asking for a bike.

What you are designing is a space in the mind of your customer which is perceived as real value for their money and or emotional gain and the marketing input is as important for value creation as the technical.

Design phase product development is the part where most organisations are reasonably competent. Whether they are developing engineering, health-care, software or other products, they tend to have many people who are expert in their field and there is generally an appetite for late nights in the lab or prototyping space or wherever the creative process is happening.

Sometimes, even when the product design ideation has presented a palette of ideas and filtered them down to a set of requirements, some of the best organisations then loose the plot entirely and begin to design products in isolation from commercialisation, stakeholder requirement,, strategy, MOC or any of the guiding influences which are there to make the job easier and more successful. This is a fatal mistake.
Before you even consider any design efforts beyond basic technical feasibility of high level ideas, it us critical that you have a palette of requirements to begin with and that you know with a reasonable level of confidence how much value your customers place on each of these requirements<!–[if !supportAnnotations]–>.

So now that you are ready to begin the design work, you should have a number of key goals in mind:


  1. The need to create a product, which combines a number of the given requirements to deliver maximum value to the customer for price.
  2. Need to create a product which poses the minimum level of risk either technological, political, regulatory or otherwise unless this is specifically agreed in advance.
  3. Need to test prototypes at every stage from basic drawing to beta with real users (not your spouses or best friends)
  4. The need to understand the emotional drivers that will win or lose the sale for your product.

Remember, a lot of research has already gone into this and a lot of decisions have already been made. I would never suggest that the process should be so rigid as to ignore a great idea at any stage, but in the interest of Time to Market, there can be little justification for rambling away from the requirements list at this point. Neither is there justification for taking unnecessary risk technologically unless enormous potential gain can be sufficient to justify the risk and it is agreed at a high level.

It is also useful to bear in mind that there is always more than one good solution to any problem and there is usually no sure way of picking the best one, so once you get to the point where you have a number of potential combinations which would deliver your product JFDI Just *ing do it. Pick the best one and get on with it.

It is important to bear in mind that design phase product development is neither the beginning nor the end of design because it really began with involvement of engineers at early ideation stage and will continue until all of the marketing collateral is created and tested.

So what is the conclusion?

Design begins at the research and goes on long after launch.

Design phase product development involves marketing and publicity people who can help create value.

Design phase Product development should begin with a palette of requirements that can be met be met by a set of features optimized to deliver maximum value for minimum cost and match a predefined positioning requirement.

Ed Taaffe

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