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IDEO Product Development Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
1606 3485 Words (13 Pages) Stefan Thomke Harvard Business School : 600143
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IDEO is an international design consultancy firm. The problem encountered by the organization is for designing Visor – a handheld device – for a client a very short timescale. Development of a new design through distinct stages is one of the most important areas of IDEO’s activities. At IDEO innovation begins with the search for new product ideas, and their selection and economic analysis, as well as the development of the concept of the product. One possible approach for Boyle to decrease the timescale of Visor’s development is to engage in pre-selection of idea. IDEO’s Visor team cannot reduce the time required for the evaluation stage. Since Visor is a consumer product, the packaging design of the product must also receive attention from the design team at IDEO. The decision to scale the schedule of Visor’s development at IDEO must be accompanied by a consideration given to the culture of the IDEO. It is recommended that Boyle should not reduce the timescale for the development of Visor. Shortening the schedule for the development of Visor will deprive the company of this unique advantage.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution

  1. Should IDEO accept the Visor project as is (on a dramatically reduced schedule)? Should they try to persuade Handspring’s management to change its aggressive launch schedule? Or should they simply decline the project? In IDEO’s discussions, please consider the IDEO and Handspring perspectives.

Case Analysis for IDEO Product Development Case Solution

1. Introduction

IDEO is an international design consultancy firm which creates service and product designs for its clients. The case narrates the formation of the organization and discusses the cultural elements that contributed to its success. One of the most recent successes of the organization includes creation of a design for Palm V – a handheld device. The problem encountered by the organization is for designing another similar product – named as Visor – for a different organization (Thomke & Nimgade, 2007). The key challenge faced by the organization for Visor project is to complete the project in a dramatically reduced schedule. The paper carries out an analysis of the key factors which contribute to the design success at IDEO and determine whether Boyle should try to persuade Handspring’s management to change its aggressive launch schedule. The paper also discusses whether it is suggested to reduce the timescale of the production. The analysis takes into account both IDEO’s and Handspring’s management perspectives.

2. Importance of Product Development Stages at IDEO

The decision whether to adopt an aggressive launch decision is largely dependent on the product develop method followed at IDEO. IDEO follow a highly methodical approach towards new design creation. Development of a new design through distinct stages is one of the most important areas of IDEO’s activities. The stages involved in design creation at IDEO includes generation of ideas, selection of ideas, development of the concept of the goods, the development of marketing strategy, analysis of production capacity, development of a prototype and eventually creation of the final design. This sequence of steps is highly integrated in nature (Gmelin & Seuring, 2014). 

For adequate development of the new product, it is important that methodological approaches are fragmented and coordinated using blocks of the general scheme of the development of new products. At IDEO, the innovation begins with the search for new product ideas and their selection and economic analysis, as well as the development of the concept of the product. Great importance should be given to ensuring product quality and assessment of its competitiveness (Iivari & Iivari, 2011).

The next steps after all the necessary procedures to ensure the creation of a product should be an assessment of the adequacy of the market, understood as the compliance of the product requirements of the market and fulfilling the criteria of the client. The main components of the process of finding new product ideas comprise of an analysis of the sources of ideas and the use of creative methods to obtain ideas (Bortolotti, et al., 2015). 
There are three main sources of ideas to create new products. The most important source is the market, and it comes from both consumers and competitors. IDEO’s team reviews requests and complaints from users as an important source of information to improve the design of the product. Palm V has received positive reviews from the clients; however, any negative reviews receive by the product must be taken into account for the development of Visor (Yang, et al., 2014). 

The second source of the new idea is the team of the client. Development of new products is rarely possible without intensive research. IDEO has significant advantages in this area. IDEO’s has distinct stages in its development process. Shortening the schedule for the development of Visor will deprive the company of this unique advantage. If the analysis of the above mentioned sources of ideas does not give the desired results, the team at IDEO tends to use creative methods for generating new product ideas. This approach includes adoption of problem analysis techniques and brainstorming. One such approach is synectic approach. Synectic approach is the gradual alienation of the original problem by constructing analogies to other areas of product design. After the formation of multistage analogies, the design team can use the analogy to solve the original design problem (Yang, et al., 2009). 

One possible approach for Boyle to decrease the timescale of Visor’s development is to engage in pre-selection of idea. The purpose of pre-selection of ideas is to reduce the time period of the development cycle through early allocation of unsuitable decisions. Products and ideas are adopted in their most rudimentary form. Pre-selection may mean checking ideas to their correspondence the requirements of the company, which may include expert assessments, assessment matrix, and multi-criteria evaluation. Evaluation criteria depend on the nature of the enterprise (Ringen, et al., 2012).
Still, IDEO’s Visor team cannot reduce the time required for the evaluation stage. Expert evaluation is conducted primarily on such indicators as the usability of the new product, the scalability of the production and attainable degree of quality. Visor’s development team should assess whether the idea is realizable with the financial and technical points of view and how it meets the original design objectives of Visor and Handspring’s company's image (Gmelin & Seuring, 2014).

Even more importantly, Visor’s development team must also carry out economic analysis of Visor’s mass production. During this stage, IDEO’s team must carry out forecast of the costs associated with product development, marketing, and sales. The forecast is associated with some risk since the analysis is necessary to know the situation on the market, time and sales of the product and the attitude of consumers to the product. The quality of the forecast depends on how accurately the team is able to assess the growth of the market and to achieve targeted market share. This in turn depends on the cost of the Visor designed by the team. For each development situation, the team is encouraged to develop optimistic, medium and pessimistic forecasts. The phase of the development of the concept of goods is closely linked to the method of activity-based costing. The method evaluates the elements of the product only on the basis of costs, excluding other criteria. The advantage of this approach is that those elements that do not substantially affect the quality of the new product (Visor) must be removed or modified (Iivari & Iivari, 2011).

Since Visor is a consumer product, the packaging design of the product must also receive attention from the design team at IDEO. Creating the package is an integral part of product planning, during which the firm is studying, develops and manufactures its packaging. The Visor development team must highlight the key factors creating packages that must be considered when making decisions in this area. Packaging Design should be applied to the image that the company is looking for in terms of colour, shape and materials (Kuijk, et al., 2015). All the above factors affect the representation of consumers about the company and its products. Inadequate packaging creates an image of lower quality of the product. Further, the cost of the package must, of course, be taken into account. The relative cost of the package may reach up to 40% of retail prices, depending on the purpose and the degree of packing. The company can choose from a range of packaging materials for Visor ranging from cardboard, plastic, metal, glass and cellophane. In this case, there are necessary compromises. For example, cellophane allows a good display of the goods, but it is easy to tear; Cardboard is relatively cheap, but difficult to open. Furthermore, it is necessary to determine the cost associated with the package design of Visor. IDEO’s team must choose the size, colour and shape. When selecting the size, Visor’s team need to consider the period of storage, convenience, tradition and competition. Place, content and size of the label, as well as the allocated size, must also be established (Kuijk, et al., 2015).

Lastly, Visor’s development team also needs to create quality management approaches in the next stage. This stage requires identifying different kinds of inconsistencies in the production, manufacture or quality of the system and the removal of not only the identified inconsistencies, but also their causes. Improving the quality requires a constant management of the production process aimed at raising the technical level of production, the quality of its production, improvement of the elements of production and of the quality system of the enterprise. The quality system of the enterprise should also consider and evaluate the competitiveness of its products (Thomke & Nimgade, 2007). 

Economic success is directly dependent on the manner in which the product meets the specific needs of the market. Therefore, the product meets the requirements of the market can be determined by starting directly from economic indicators. Indicators can serve as sales volume, profit and coverage of fixed costs. However, in most cases, it is impossible to evaluate the product on economic parameters. For instance, when a decision needs to be taken on innovation before there is any data on market demand, an educated guess needs to be made by the IDEO’s development team. Identification of market adequacy of the product is important for its improvement and modification. In such cases, it is important to find out how the product or the production program meets the requirements of the market and consumers (Högman & Johannesson, 2013). 

3. Considerations for Cultural Elements at IDEO

The decision to scale the schedule of Visor’s development at IDEO must be accompanied by a consideration given to the culture of the IDEO. Since the culture plays a very important role in the life of the organization, it should be subject to scrutiny by management. Management not only meets the organizational culture and is strongly dependent on it, but can in turn influence the formation and development of organizational culture. To do this, managers must be able to analyze organizational culture and its influence on the formation and change in the desired direction (Koussis, et al., 2013).

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