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The homework for Chapter 1 will be case 1.1 your book. Please read the case an
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The homework for Chapter 1 will be case 1.1 your book. Please read the case and complete the questions at the end.
Written by Professor Vicky Szerko, Dominican College
A great example of how companies make use of consumer behavior data is the enormously innovative and
influential product design firm, IDEO (www.ideo.com).
It has developed products for many of the world’s most
successful and exciting companies, from technology
leader Apple to the venerable consumer packaged goods
giant, Procter & Gamble.
While the name IDEO obviously draws from the
word idea, it is Thomas A. Edison’s famous observation regarding genius as being “1% inspiration and 99%
perspiration” that actually guides the firm’s product development process. Preceding every “flash of genius” is
a painstaking and disciplined approach that focuses intently on the consumer experience.
Whenever IDEO is asked by a client to design a new
product, it turns to a highly effective form of idea generation called the “deep dive.”1
The “deep dive” consists
of total immersion in the customer experience, requiring IDEO’s team of developers and designers to place
themselves in the actual situation for which the product
is ultimately intended.
For example, a commission to design a better
wheelchair would mean living as a disabled person to
learn what it’s like to be dependent on a wheelchair for
tasks most of us take for granted. Besides the physical
aspects of navigating the wheelchair, developers have
to ask themselves: How does being in a wheelchair
make you feel? Does the wheelchair provide a sense of
empowerment or frustration? What things about the
wheelchair are positive or negative? Once the team
has been able to experience the wheelchair from a disabled person’s perspective, it can much better address
the features and benefits that will be most valuable to
Research tells us that people relate to products
from multiple perspectives. Why does someone prefer
Brand X to Brand Y—although they both do, essentially,
the same thing? It may be because Brand X enhances the
person’s status (as in a designer bag), or reassures him
that he is receiving high quality (as in an expensive appliance). Simply put, people prefer products that don’t just
do the job (utilitarian value) but also affect the way they
feel (hedonic value). Well-designed wheelchairs must not
only get people around but make them feel good about
using them, too.
To illustrate how IDEO takes both utilitarian and
hedonic considerations in designing products, consider a
recent commission: the redesign of the classroom desk.
IDEO was asked by Steelcase, a global company in the
office furniture industry, to help them break into the education market. Could IDEO transform the traditional
IDEO’s team began by using the desks and observing
them in the classroom setting. They saw that the desks
were uncomfortable for larger individuals (Americans
have been increasing in weight), that the word “tablet”
now meant not just spiral notebooks but increasingly referred to digital devices, and that moving and rearranging the desks in the classroom was noisy, cumbersome,
and annoying. Also, with many more individuals going to
school and class sizes getting larger, the traditional desks
produced a sense of overcrowding, an unpleasant feeling
for most individuals.
IDEO created a series of prototypes based on
their developers’ experience in the classroom. They
then invited students and faculty to test each prototype in the classroom and provide direct feedback. As
feedback was received and considered in light of the
desk’s role in the classroom experience, the tablet-arm
desk was completely redesigned. It was dubbed the
“The details betray a remarkable thoughtfulness,”
wrote Cliff Kuang in Fast Company. “The seat is a generously sized bucket so that students can shift around
and adapt their posture to whatever’s going on: the seat
also swivels, so that students can, for example, swing
around to look at other students making class presentations; and a rolling base allows the chairs to move
quickly between lecture-based seating and group activities. In group activities, the proportions are such
that the chairs and integrated desktops combine into
something like a conference table.”2
Clearly, the whole
experience of sitting in a classroom had been substantially improved. In a recent TED Talk, IDEO’s founder and president David Kelley discussed how “human-centered
design,” or looking at things from the user’s point of
view, can solve what may seem to be insurmountable
problems. He used Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital’s
experience with CT scanning of children to illustrate
The problem had to do with the CT scanners themselves. Although the scanners were remarkably accurate
and scientifically advanced, they produced a traumatic
experience in young children; as many as 80% of children
had to be sedated before the scans could take place.
While the scanners delivered a high degree of utility
from a medical standpoint, they were woefully lacking
in providing a good, or even acceptable, experience for
young patients. Doug Dietz, principal designer for GE
Global Design, which had developed and produced the
scanners, set out to see what could be done to improve
the children’s experience.
“We did simple things that got overlooked. I mean,
some of the most effective insights came from kneeling
down and looking at a room from the height of a child,”
The huge machines in the impersonal,
utilitarian rooms frightened the children. Dietz’s solution
was to divert the children’s attention from the machine
itself by placing it in the context of an exciting fantasy
The newly redesigned rooms were dubbed the GE
Adventure Series™. The rooms and scanners were specially outfitted to resemble a child’s fantasy adventure—
a pirate ship, a jungle, an underwater journey. Sights,
sounds, and even smells (such as the piña colada scent
in the pirate ship adventure) engaged the child’s attention and turned the scanner into an integral part of the
The impact of the redesign was dramatic: The number of children having to be sedated dropped from 80%
to just around 10%. What better testament to the importance of the hedonic, or experiential, dimension in product design? Before the redesign, the scanners were just
highly sophisticated medical devices; afterward, they
provided a delightful experience to children and even
simplified the job experience of the medical technicians
Moral of the story? The best products not only get
the job done, but make doing the job a pleasure.
1-Where does IDEO get inspiration for its product designs?
2-What kind of value do you think successful products
deliver to consumers?
3-Why do you think having a product that simply works
doesn’t always translate to consumer acceptance?
4-What is the relative importance of the utilitarian versus
the hedonic value of products, as suggested by the work
5-Do you agree with Edison’s observation that “genius
is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”? Explain your
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