Why are some "reasonable" products very successful whilst a "really good" product fails to make an impact? This advertisement for an iconic product focused my thoughts on the blue space around the silhouette, as well as the silhouette itself. This is what I call "Design Space", encompassing all the knowledge that has gone into creating a product. How well we operate in Design Space will determine the potential for success when we launch our new product.
About a decade ago I was asked to get involved with a product that had been a leader in a steady, mature European market with very little innovation going on. Suddenly a competitor launched a very different product in a major country and we watched our market share nosedive! We started a new fightback project; meanwhile another competitor, in another country launched yet another solution that battered our position. The team tasked with preventing this battering from continuing went into panic mode and each individual was convinced one of the others listed on the team roster would come up with the answer, or perhaps a supplier who would make some of the parts. Needless to say the solutions were likely to arrive to slowly to compete and with no proof they would work!
We realised that unless the team developed a common vision of what the product benefits were to be and how they were to be delivered we would not succeed.
Over a seven day period myself and two consultants (from different organisations) collected information and then in a one-day session we created "Design Space"- a tool for individual and team thinking that we hoped would focus the team's efforts on the right things.
Design Space consisted of 4 pairs of factors which we labelled:
¦ Design for Consumer (and Channels)
--Design for Manufacture (Technology and Supply Chain)
/ Design for Sustainability ( business drivers, legislation and environment)
\ Design for Competitiveness (Brand and Competitor activity)
Playing in Design Space at the centre works really well when there is someone in the room to represent each of the eight factors; that they bring themselves not their department roles to the space. the team can create a vision of an excellent product and the steps needed to successfully deliver it to the consumers. Seriously playing in Design Space allows the team to creatively interact with opportunities and constraints exploring more radical ideas and developing criteria that enable ideas to be filtered, concepts to be ranked and optimal solutions for all the stakeholders to be developed!
The final version of Design Space looks like:
Yes we did get the product to market, faster than expected and with a novel technology solution that never would have surfaced without Design Space methodologies.
I will cover the opportunities that Design Space affords in a later blog.