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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Successful Products

I am starting to think that the success of a product may not have as much to do with innovation and good industrial design as it has to do with having a "perfect storm" of collaboration among various individuals who have influence in particular areas.

Jim Collins in Good to Great describes it as "getting the right people on the bus." He argues that it doesn't matter if you don't know where the bus is headed, because the "right people" can figure that out.

I think that a successful business is born out of meeting the right people who can help provide a product or service that is meaningful and competitively unique.

In dealing with one company, I am seeing that they have a potentially unique relationship between a consumer focus group as well as a patent law office. Part of the collaboration could be as follows: The lawyer can train the designers to understand patents better. If the designers understand patents better, they can create more valuable intellectual property for the lawyer. They can be a tool of the lawyer to increase the scope of his business.

Collaboration between industrial designers and consumer groups could provide an opportunity for the consumer group to take brainstorming information and feedback and turn them directly into rapid prototypes for client evaluation; a service that they do not currently offer. The result would be increased the scope of their business as well.

A successful collaboration is one that allows for all parties to be enabled to perform a better service for their clients. All three groups can extend the services they offer, as long as they remain in the scope of their business, without investing in the capital necessary to bring the service in house.

If someone is looking for a prediction about what the economy is going to start doing in this next period of slowed growth, I am willing to posit the idea that the borders between industries are going to become a little more nebulous to allow for such collaborations. At the very least, these collaborations will continue to grow.

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