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Predictable Magic: Unleash the Power of Design Strategy to Transform Your Business Hardcover – July 29, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“By putting the empowerment of people at the center of strategy creation,Predictable Magicis as much a book about values and leadership as it is about design. It can help executives find meaning and value in their work as they create meaning and value for their consumers.

-Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, world-renowned executive coach; author,The New York Timesbestsellers,MOJOandWhat Got You Here Won't Get You There


“While every company strives to create products and services that dazzle, few achieve this feat. Prahalad and Sawhney lay out a simple but powerful methodology for turning deep consumer insights into attention-grabbing, expectation-defying designs. If you're looking to increase the ‘magic quotient' in the things your company makes and sells, you'll want to dig intoPredictable Magic.

-Dr. Gary Hamel, Visiting Professor, London Business School; author,The Future of ManagementandLeading the Revolution


“The natural fusion of psychology and creative disciplines enable a potent capability that will be critically important as we seek to better understand the demands of a diverse global population.Predictable Magicoutlines an important framework to capture and define the emotional wants and needs of a user.

-Ken Musgrave, IDSA, Director, Experience Design, Dell


“Prahalad and Sawhney shine a light on an important piece of the strategic puzzle: how to convert consumer emotions into successful designs. They provide a rigorous approach to guide innovation efforts from strategy creation through execution. This is a must-read for anyone who is trying to create a new product or develop a new business model.

-Dr. Vijay Govindarajan, Professor, Tuck School of Business; Chief Innovation Consultant, GE; author,Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators


“Prahalad and Sawhney have written an unusually useful book. It is one of the rare sources that go beyond giving us another definition of innovation. With concrete examples linked to practical principles, they show us how to do it.

-Patrick Whitney, Steelcase / Robert C. Pew Professor and Dean, Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology

About the Author

Deepa Prahalad is a business strategist specializing in opportunities at the intersection of consumer experience, technology, and strategy. She has experience in a wide range of industries and has worked as a management consultant with firms from start-ups to large multinationals. Passionate about emerging markets and innovation, she began her career researching how to improve efficiency in UN procurement and later moved to Singapore to become a commodities trader with Cargill. She holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.


Ravi Sawhney is founder and CEO of RKS, a global leader in strategy, innovation, and design. Sawhney’s contributions to the industrial design profession are legendary. At Xerox, he was sole Industrial Designer working with a team of 20 cognitive and social scientists to develop the world’s first touch-screen interface. Sawhney has been recognized with nearly every major industrial design award and has helped RKS’ elite clients generate more than 150 patents. He invented the popular Psycho-Aesthetics® design strategy presented in this book, an approach that has been profiled as a Harvard Business School case study.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (July 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780137023486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137023486
  • ASIN: 0137023480
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on March 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Predictable Magic is a book about design and its critical role in establishing a successful product, one that makes both a functional and emotional connection with its customers. The issue of design thinking and design practice is hot right now as companies look to compete in an ever competitive environment where cost alone is not the only purchase consideration. Deepa Prahalad and Ravi Sawhney's book is a solid addition to the body of research, stories and processes regarding design thinking.

This book is both a discussion of the need for design thinking and the demonstration of the author's particular tools to accomplish design thinking. This book is a portfolio of examples for Prahalad and Sawhney's company RKS and therefore its treatment of design thinking is limited to those practices. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but readers looking to understand the broader design thinking movement will need to look to other books.

The tone of the book discusses their (RKS's) success more than how you can be successful with design thinking. While this is understandable, it places the reader outside of the design process as an observer rather than considering that the reader wants to learn more about how you apply these techniques. That is the primary reason why this book is a three star review.

This book is good. Not as good as Tim Brown's Change by Design, which came out last year and really seems to define what design thinking is all about on a broader basis.


The book takes a few examples, like the development of a cell phone, and works them through their process. This helps the reader see how each step in their design process.

The tools are helpful and well described.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carl K. on October 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"It's not how you feel about the design or the experience; it's how it makes you feel about yourself"

This is a quote from Predictable Magic's afterword and encapsulates the abstract end of Deepa Prahalad's and Ravi Sawhney's influential book. Predictable Magic was an enjoyable, light read on the cultivation and assimilation of consumer desires and their experience with the objects they desire. Aligning this goal with all stakeholders in a process - both customers and designers - should be the first (and only goal) of the design.

After laying out the broad concept to the reader of how to guide the design, the authors provide a more detailed visualization of how to identify customers, competitors, and potential opportunities. Mapping a chart on a simple y axis, customers (or personas) as well as competitors can be placed side by side to understand more concretely where to aim a company's vision. This RKS method has been used by Predictable Magic's authors on multiple products in the past (Water bottles, Laundry Machines, camcorders) to varying degrees of success.

Read from the view of a novice in the fields of design, marketing, and engineering, some of the higher level concepts were hard to grasp although the importance is understood. Maybe a bit to "jargon-y" for some, but an important read for any budding entrepreneurs, product managers, or marketers out there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Mott VINE VOICE on January 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
So many business books, particularly books about marketing, design, and social media, tend to waste a whole book giving short shrift to a variety of topics. What is nice about Predictable Magic is that it has a laser focus on one topic - Psycho-Aesthetics.

The book description and several other reviews have more than amply examined the book's focus, so I want to discuss a few of my criteria for judging a business book beyond content.

Organization: This book is exceedingly well-organized. It makes logical use of its chapter titles and a generous amount of subheadings within each chapter. The table of contents for the book lists all of the chapters as well as the subheadings, so the book lends itself to easy skimming for a topic of particular interest and to easy reference when you want to skip straight to a key portion previously read.

Graphics: Multiple images of products created using the strategy outlined in the book are featured in the text. While these images are in black and white, they are very crisp as are the information boxes located in key portions of the text.

Case Studies: Plenty of case studies are presented in the book, and you are guided through the entire process from an insider perspective. I felt like a fly on the wall instead of a reader reading another reader's interpretation of a design process they also read about.

Ease of Reading: Predictable Magic is exceedingly easy to read. It isn't a lengthy book despite its attention to detail and thorough explanations. The authors did a very good job of not only writing an informative book but an enjoyable one as well. I didn't HAVE to take a break from it after every chapter because the text was written with a heavy hand.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs on February 3, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Consumers engage with products and services for emotional reasons and adopt based on rich and fulfilling experience, according to Deepa Prahalad and Ravi Sawhney in this book. That is why it is important to use emotion and experience as a starting point for strategy and design. This enables the designer to create the connection to a product or service that makes people want to spread the joy of their discovery.

The authors go on to describe a design approach called "Psycho-Aesthetics". This includes a two-dimensional mapping process in which the vertical axis shows the degree of need, from essential through to aspirational, while the horizontal axis shows the degree of interactivity from passive through to immersive. Existing products can be placed in their appropriate locations on the map, as can different groups of consumers, in order to identify gaps which might be suitable for the design of new products.

The book describes a number of products which have become successful as a result of innovative designs, many of which have been created by RKS Design, a firm founded by one of the authors. These include a refrigerator, a loudspeaker, a water bottle and a guitar. The stories behind these products show the great amount of research which goes into creating a product which not only looks good but provides a positive consumer experience in every aspect.

However, while the book provides convincing evidence that RKS Design is capable of designing great products, it does not in my opinion fully live up to the promise of telling the reader how to use the design strategy to create "predictable magic". Plenty of research and imagining of the consumer experience seem to be necessary but not sufficient ingredients. The additional magic tricks of aesthetic design and inspired marketing are not fully described, although it may be impossible to do so. Nevertheless, I found the book enjoyable to read.
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