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Book Review: Product Design and Innovation: Analytics for Decision Making
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Product Design and Innovation: Analytics for Decision Making

Product Design and Innovation: Analytics for Decision Making

Written by: Carlos M. Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Reviewed by: Teresa Jurgens-Kowal, PhD, NPDP, PMP®, PEM

Product Design and Innovation:  Analytics for Decision Making

The intersection of marketing and design is evident in all new product development (NPD) work. Yet, decisions to move a new product from R&D into trial and into a marketplace are risky. Senior management in NPD team leaders required clear data and analytics to be confident that a product or feature will meet customer needs.

Throughout my 20+ year career in R&D, process improvement, and product development, I have been forced to pull information from multiple sources to validate research data.  Carlos Rodriguez's new book, “Product Design and Innovation,” takes a great leap into that void by collating and summarizing many key tools that product managers and NPD teams must use in problem-solving and decision-making.  While this is an advanced technical evaluation of product design parameters, it should be easily adapted to a classroom setting.  For new innovators, the book can be skimmed to learn terminology, while intermediate-skilled NPD practitioners can study a single tool applicable to their specific product design and development needs. 

Chapter 1, “Product Design:  Models and Perspectives,” introduces design thinking models, including the classic “double-diamond” cycle of discover, define, develop, and deliver (page 26).  Especially relevant for NPD practitioners are the sections on thinking patterns (page 31) and the notion of re-framing (page 33).

The remaining chapters provide detailed examples, including statistical analysis, of several different tools.  Dr. Rodriguez links a useful example of designing a coffee pot through Chapters 2 and 3, describing the Kano method and function analysis. 

Chapter 5 on Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a tremendous reference since this tool is often complicated and difficult to implement.  Customer requirements in the QFD analysis tie back to important functions using tools from Chapters 1 and 2 (“Concept Design:  The Kano Method”), for instance.

New products are successful only when a customer is emotionally triggered by the use of the product.  Emotional design and methodologies are discussed in Chapter 6 (“Emotional Design”) and Chapter 7 (”Emotional Design Methodology”).  Several software tools are recommended by the author and an example of “laddering” is provided (page 274).

Conjoint analysis and prototyping are two commonly applied tools in product development.  Examples and detailed descriptions to apply these tools are given in Chapter 8 (“Conjoint Analysis in Product Design”) and Chapter 10 (“Prototyping in Product Design”).  Chapter 10, with its emphasis on prototyping, provides insight to 3D printing, for example, as a methodology to gain quick customer feedback. 

“Product Design and Innovation” is a good reference for a product development team.  It is not necessarily a book for reading cover-to-cover for product design inspiration, as you would a magazine.  Instead, “Product Design and Innovation” is a very detailed, how-to manual, including quantitative statistical analysis of each recommend product design tool.  Additionally, each chapter opens with a colorful example of product design and ends with a subject glossary to reinforce learning.

I am looking forward to a second edition in which an introductory chapter will direct the reader to sections of the book and combined toolsets to address specific NPD problems at different development stages “Product Design and Innovation” is a hefty book and will serve an NPD team doing quantitative research well.  I recommend “Product Design and Innovation” to innovation teams that need to understand specific design and market research tools in depth to improve their new product launch success.