Week 3 Student Discussion - Design

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Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
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#1
Tom Peters is very passionate on design. In a recent blog (http://www.tompeters.com/archives.php?date=200407) he states:

Happy Birthday, Walkman

Would a Walkman by any other name sound as sweet? Plenty of its imitators do, but I'll bet you can't name a single one of them. Since Sony introduced the little masterpiece 25 years ago this month, we've called them all Walkman...just as we call all gelatin Jello and all facial tissue Kleenex. Brand recognition doesn't get any better than that. This branding comes from Sony's commitment to cool design, cited by Tom in Re-imagine! with this quote from retired Sony chairman Norio Ohga:

At Sony, we assume that all products of our competitors have basically the same technology, price, performance and features. Design is the only thing that differentiates one product from another in the marketplace.


What are your thoughts on the importance of design to product success? Is design just a surface thing or is it more than skin deep?
 
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mark child

#2
product design

I think there is a lot more to it than just design. Look at the edsel and tucker automobiles. Great design but poor timing. Also, a manufacturer cannot expect to design a good product and simply convince consumers that they need it. The wants and needs of consumers need to be taken into consideration.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#3
mark child said:
I think there is a lot more to it than just design. Look at the edsel and tucker automobiles. Great design but poor timing. Also, a manufacturer cannot expect to design a good product and simply convince consumers that they need it. The wants and needs of consumers need to be taken into consideration.
The Tucker automobile may be a good example to pursue in discussing the topic. Very innovative and elegant design. To a certain extent, a cultural success since people still know about it, but not a financial or production success.
 
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Mary Davenport

#4
Design is most definately not just skin deep. If you look at just the example used by Sony, the Walkman and all of the wannabees look alike on the surface and basically all perform the same functions in similar manner. But Sony's design which includes their standard higher quality parts/assembly/etc. make them more desirable, even at a higher price. I think this is because design is more than just the "configuration", it is also quality, reliability, serviceability, and several other unmeasurable factors.
 
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zdjones

#5
Zel Jones

Design is more than skin deep. I agree with Mary D. No matter what brand name is on the product, if the design team creates a product that has no reliability by falling apart, not operating or worse, exploding, you have a product that can not fall back on the company's good name. No one will buy a horrible product no matter who made it. In fact, if bad design problems continue, the company with the good, solid, reliable brand name will begin to lose its reputation. Look at Ford and the fact that someone chose to design the Explorer trucks with Firestone tires that can not hold the air that's in them. Ford almost lost their shirts due to a decision to use those tires on every model of Explorers that left the manufacturer. :agree1: ?
 
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jlowens

#6
Product Design

I would also agree that product design is more than skin deep. Although best known for inventing the Walkman, Sony was also responsible for developing the now seldom used "Beta" video format. A great design, however it was soon replaced by the "VHS" video format which combined lower pricing with a more user-friendly movie recording platform.
 
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dwall

#7
Design is more than skin deep because it includes all of the initial innovations that are built into the product by the original designer plus the continual tinkering of other designers as they seek to carve out their market share of the product by differentiation of their product. So the design evolves into hopefully the best possible product at a lesser cost than the original.
 
R

Roberta

#8
Design

When you evaluate the purchase of a product, design will always come into play. People can be torn when comparing products for purchase and sometimes have to chose between the visual design of the product or the utility. For example, maybe a Corvette is of better quality than a Mustang, but really, when are you going to notice a difference in your everyday driving? People will spend the money to get the Corvette because of the perception they have of it over the Mustang. Design has sold the car, and at a higher price.
 
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Mary Davenport

#9
dwall said:
Design is more than skin deep because it includes all of the initial innovations that are built into the product by the original designer plus the continual tinkering of other designers as they seek to carve out their market share of the product by differentiation of their product. So the design evolves into hopefully the best possible product at a lesser cost than the original.
You're absoultely right, and I hadn't considered that, but evolution is very much a part of design, and keeps it from being "skin-deep". :thanks:
 
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Jamie Morris

#10
Product Design

Mary Davenport said:
You're absoultely right, and I hadn't considered that, but evolution is very much a part of design, and keeps it from being "skin-deep". :thanks:
I certainly agree with the posts related to designing a product that provides quality service, considers the customer needs, and has brand recognition (i.e., the Walkman). Additionally, product improvements based on customer feedback is a way to maintain a product in its lifecycle. However, consider this. Baking soda originally introduced as a product for baking was sliding into the decline mode in its product life cycle. The product was reintroduced as an order eliminator for refrigerators, etc., and its life cycle moved back to the growth phase. Notice that the product was not redesigned, a new need/perceived desire was created for customers based on product marketing. Based on this wonderful marketing technique, decisions were made that baking soda could be used a breath freshening agent in toothpaste, so it became a component in another product. Note that the ingredients in baking soda have not changed, it has not been redesigned, it is still just baking soda. So sometimes marketing and product re-introduction can keep a product going.
 
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