Trilogy Tidings
March 2016
in this issue
     I'm fascinated by the design of products -- products of all kinds. Unfortunately, my fascination is most often driven by disappointment. Product designers can make a great contribution to society, to their customers, and to their employers' bottom lines if they would simply do a better job.
     I offer a personal example and several noteworthy sources of guidance on the matter.


The Strange New Coffeemaker                 
     Our coffeemaker finally broke, so it was time for a new one. As I often do, I checked with Consumer Reports. There were about 100 listed. (How do those folks manage to test all those products?) However, only four were recommended. So my job was easy. I picked one that seemed suitable and ordered it.
     Excitement ensued when it arrived. It was beautiful. Matched our kitchen d├ęcor. Read the manual so I would not screw up. Turns out the water reservoir held only enough to produce one cup of coffee, and however much water you put in is fully consumed in the process, so there's a risk of overflow. OK, that's a surprise, but I can deal with that since I need only one cup in the morning.
     All I need to do is fill my cup with water and pour it into the reservoir. But the design of the reservoir is such that pouring directly from a cup inevitably causes water to splash all over the place! My solution was to fill my cup and transfer its contents into a small pitcher, then into the reservoir. Seems like a weird protocol to follow for one cup of coffee at 6:30 am.
     What's the problem? Design is the problem! A beautiful device that does not meet my need. I don't want to interact with a coffeemaker. I just want a cup of coffee, tasty and quick. If you are a product designer, think about that and check out the following advice.
Nobody Wants to Use Your Product                  
     I admit that my coffeemaker problem is not earthshaking. But think about my reactions multiplied millions of times. What effect might that have on your product, your brand, your company? Here's the thing: People don't want to use your product; they just want to achieve an outcome, a result.
     This reality is brilliantly treated in a recent article by Goran Peuc. His thoughts on this subject are well worth your time, and he covers a multitude of current examples. Here's one key excerpt:

"Here is a little revelation. People are not really into using products. Any time spent by a user operating an interface, twisting knobs, pulling levers or tapping buttons is time wasted. Rather, people are more interested in the end result and in obtaining that result in the quickest, least intrusive and most efficient manner possible. And these are two fundamentally different concepts - usage versus results - which, at the very least, differentiate good product design from poor product design or, on a smaller scale, a good feature from a bad one."
And here's another:

"Understand that your product is a necessary evil. Realize that, for the user, it would be best if your product did not exist at all and yet the results of the product somehow magically did exist."
     Stepping back for a more generalized view of the same issue, a LinkedIn post by Ramesh Srinivasan makes a compelling case for always remembering a customer's true need. He borrows from Theodore Levitt to remind us: "People buy holes, not drills."

     Whether you are conceptualizing, designing, developing or marketing, a customer's ultimate needs should be paramount ... always.
     Now, how can I find a better coffeemaker?
What does Trilogy do? 
     Trilogy Associates facilitates business growth and renewal through commercialization of new products, providing the following services:
  • Development and critique of business strategies and plans
  • Characterization of market drivers and adoption dynamics
  • Identification and evaluation of fitting technologies
  • Surveillance of competitors and emerging threats
  • Market-testing of development-stage product concepts
  • Assessment of clinical value and comparative economics
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  • Quick-turnaround M&A due diligence
  • Business and technical writing/publishing

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Resources from our Archives 
     Check out our Reading Room to view my published articles, presentations and white papers on a variety of topics.
     And, you can examine an archive of my prior newsletters (since February 2007).
Contact Information
Joseph J. Kalinowski, Principal