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Creating Breakthrough Products: Innovation from Product Planning to Program Approval (paperback) Paperback – October 22, 2001
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From the Back Cover
Creating Breakthrough Products identifies key factors associated with successful innovation, and presents an insightful and comprehensive approach to building products and services that redefine markets -- or create new ones. Learn to identify Product Opportunity Gaps that can lead to enormous success; control and navigate the "Fuzzy Front End" of the product development process; and leverage contributions from diverse product teams -- while staying relentlessly focused on your customer's values and lifestyles.
About the Author
JONATHAN CAGAN is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. His work focuses on the early stages of product development with emphasis on engineering design, interdisciplinary collaborations, formal design synthesis, and computational design tools. Dr. Cagan is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a registered Professional Engineer.
CRAIG M. VOGEL is a Professor in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. His areas of expertise include product design, product aesthetics, design history, team management, and design patent litigation. Professor Vogel is a Fellow, and former President, of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).
Professors Cagan and Vogel have collaborated for close to a decade in teaching, research, and consulting in the area of integrated new product development. For more information see www.creatingbreakthroughproducts.com
Top customer reviews
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First my concerns:
- There's too many unrelated topics,
- There's too many acronyms,
- It reads like a textbook, it's a little hard to read as it feels disjointed somewhat.
Now the things that I like and recommend:
- Great reviews of successful product case studies (I particularly liked the OXO product one),
- Although trite, their 2x2 matrix was quite interesting,
- Their emphasis on how to put "style" into your product (this is not really covered in many other books),
- Their concept of Product Opportunity Gaps (POG, whoops there's another acronym).
I think the authors, who are quite astute, should rewrite this book. I recommend that they boil down the material and rewrite the book thinking of it as an instruction book from them to some MBA/Engineer (Hewlitt/Packard) who's working out of his garage on some new product. They should not see this as a college text, or some book that's a supplementary reading for college. They have great material and great ideas, but it needs focused. They can completely drop Chapter 6 on Teams. Their Chapter 7 on Understanding User Needs seemed weak. They should drop the case studies in Chapters 8 and 9 and integrate that great material into the core text -- otherwise it's just too repetitive.
There was an excellent article about the authors in Fast Company magazine, July 2002. page 123. "How to Design the Perfect Product". I recommend reading that article as well.
These smart guys from Carnegie Mellon's design school have a unique approach to "Value is all about fulfilling fantasy" and their methodology for getting that into your product.
Sugar Land, TX
The good news is that there are some interesting insights on what makes breakthrough products, like the importance of providing compelling usefulness, usability, and desirability features, or the key role of style, technology, and branding in the success of new products, or the need for an integrated new product development process.
Can you read this book and start applying these principles? The answer is no. To start with, the authors resort to the universal 2x2 business tool to unveil their magic formula: the combination of style and technology is the way to create breakthroughs because these two attributes create value. It is what they call "moving to the upper right" or to the "value quadrant". This is a very simplistic if not erroneoous view of how value is created. This might be true for consumer items where value is mostly in the psychological and emotional realm but it definitely does not help most industrial and business applications where value is more in the economic, solution, and service realm.
The author presents a list of value opportunities that are supposed to be universal but they are brought without any justification. Why does adventure, independence, or security make the list and not other emotions? Isn't that the key to success to fist find what the potential customers really value before jumping to conclusions instaed of trying to fit a model on reality?
Central to breakthrough products is the importance of user-centered research and product development. The overall process is adequately covered in my opinion and since I am not a product development expert I learned some interesting things in these sections but again the tools do not seem very useful.
Regarding user-centered research, I do not feel it is given the importance nor the depth it deserves. It is the last chapter of the main text like if it were something to do after everything else.
Cagan and Vogel use many examples to illustrate their approach and several case studies at the end. It is a good side of the book. On the other hand, these examples are presented to fit the model, something they do more or less convincingly and in a way that does not generate great insights.
In summary, Cagan and Vogel wrote a good introduction to the topic, something that might be useful to newcomers to the field or to MBA students. The practitioners may learn the importance of integrating all disciplines and gained a few insights here and there. The book might make them think but they will find few practical tools and tips to apply on the job.
As a product developer/inventor/designer, I have already used this book to help portray new product designs with many marketing insights gained from the information in this book. The authors describe changes in social trends, economic factors, and technology advancements which have forever changed the purchasing patterns of customers. These concepts have shed light on the design and production requirements needed to produce breakthrough designs and all successful products. The third chapter alone is worth more than the cost of the book if you design, invent or develop new products.