I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Denzil “Denny” Doyle this week and in the run of one hour I learnt more about product design then my years of school could ever teach. He broke it down into three components, complete with three simple diagrams. Here is the first one: the Pyramid.
He explained when you look at a product their are three components; the technology, the product and the market. And the goal is to have a pyramid with technology on top, the product in the middle and the market on the bottom. He also warned, that far to often a companies product is the inverse pyramid. This is achieved by building a product that is highly technical, but only applicable to a very narrow market.
The final point related to this graph was simple, when it comes time for growth or new market opportunities adding new technology to the product needs to maintain the ratios. So for a little more technology you need to be able to achieve far more market potential.
The story he told had was about a company that he was involved with that made a seismic measuring device. It effectively displayed what damage occurred after a dynamite blast at a mine site. The technology was very advanced and successfully changed the industry. The company was then presented with the opportunity to apply only slightly more technology, including RFID chips - which were just coming to market. By doing so they could apply this product to the baby market and the company began developing RFID clips that were put on newborns to prevent the abduction of them. With only a little more technology the company walked into a $20 million+ market that grew very fast.
Keep it simple. The idea is reiterated in the book Rework. They describe it as taking the “Judo approach” get the best result with the least effort or input.
For those not familiar, Denny Doyle is a pioneer of the Ottawa tech scene. He is chairman of Doyletech and author of “Making Technology Happen” a highly regarded technology textbook (which I am still trying to track down for myself).