Category Archives: M3 Design Journal

Bold Predictions for the Apple iCar

Over the past few weeks, there have been all sorts of interesting rumors concerning a possible foray into the automobile business by our favorite purveyor of consumer lust, Apple. Being an ex-Ford engineer, I have a basic understanding of what it takes to design, build, sell and service a car line, so my first reaction was total disbelief. Auto manufacturing is hugely capital-intensive, highly regulated, and has low margins compared to Apple’s current business. Why the heck would Apple want to get involved in something like this?

Finding Creativity in Requirements

Have you ever been given a project or challenge that on the surface seems like it has only one answer? Before you’ve even begun, you run through the logical outcome scenarios in your head and come to the conclusion that there is only one way to solve it. We call this a highly constrained solution space

3D Printing the Future

Low cost “desktop” 3D printers seem to be getting lots of “buzz” these days, and rightly so. As described in the M3 Design Journal article “Low-Cost 3D Printers”, the cost, reliability and capability of that class of devices is improving at a rapid clip. But where else might 3D printing, or more accurately, “Additive Manufacturing” be headed, and how might it affect product development in the future? Let’s explore.

Do it right the first time (NOT!)

I don’t think any other six words in the English language have done more damage to product developers than “Do it right the first time”, otherwise known as “DRIFT”.

7 Tips for Selecting the Right Product Development Firm

Over the past 25 years, I have worked with hundreds of companies that were navigating through the process of selecting a product development firm. If I were in the role of selecting a product development firm, what would I do differently if it were my money?

Low-Cost Desktop 3D Printers

The recent inundation of low-cost desktop style 3D printers has nearly everyone considering purchasing one. In the past year alone, all the big players in the low-cost segment have made major improvements to their core models or introduced completely new ones. These new printers now offer real utility to everyone from the small business to the corporate entity. With these improvements in mind, is it finally time for us non-tinkerers to take these low-cost models seriously and invest in a desktop 3D printer? Let’s take a look at the details.

Generalists vs. Specialists

Back during the last Internet bubble (think drive-by venture capital and sock-puppets), I was part of a team that was developing high-reliability systems for the telecommunications industry. My manager at the time called me into his office for a chat about what he was looking for in his team.

“Gray,” he said, “We are going to change the Telecom world and the only way we can do that is with a team that is absolutely expert in Telecom and only Telecom. I don’t want any generalists. I want people who are an inch wide and a mile deep.

The Downside to Competitive Benchmarking

I’ve been in too many kickoff meetings where the program seems to be solely centered on a competitive response to a rival product. I’ve sat through slide after slide about how competitor X has this hot new feature, and why we need to add more and more features to counter it. In this article, I will present four principles explaining why this practice promotes marginalized innovation, and ultimately turns your brand into a commodity.

Kickstarting Airplanes

Crowd-sourcing sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been boons to entrepreneurs long on dreams but short on cash. By putting the inventor and the idea on display for all to see, they remove monetary and political barriers to individual product development, and the sheer volume of new ideas they launch unquestionably demonstrates their viability as enablers of modern decentralized innovation.

Ethnographic Research Tips for B2B Markets

There are many “best practices” articles on the topic of contextual user research; however very few speak to the common mistakes made by well-meaning researchers. Worse, this lack of pitfall information enables those researchers to justify their actions when best practices are not followed!