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Ordinary People Can Create Extraordinary Products, Too

"The Design of Things to Come: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Products" can be purchased at

Peter Boatwright

Jonathan Cagan
If you want to create an innovative new product, think like a consumer. Many successful products today, from the iPod to the OXO potato peeler, are designed with customer emotion, self-image and fantasy in mind. It's not all about product function, anymore.

That's the focus of "The Design of Things to Come: How Ordinary People Can Create Extraordinary Products," a new book co-authored by Carnegie Mellon professors Peter Boatwright and Jonathan Cagan along with Craig Vogel, a former Carnegie Mellon professor now at the University of Cincinnati.

Respectively, Boatwright, Cagan and Vogel bring expertise in business, engineering and design to the book, which presents ideas on how to create innovative new products. According to the trio, the future of competition is innovation and creativity, what they call, "the strategic weapon that drives profit in the new global economy." By refining products with insights into what consumers want, companies gain a market edge.

"People have talked about the importance of innovation for years, but there isn't much written about what to do about it," Boatwright says. Until now that is.

The book reveals a new generation of innovators and their products that feel perfect, fulfill deep unmet desires and transform consumer lifestyles. These products have benefits that are so self-evident, they often sell themselves.

Tepper alumnus Dee Kapur (MSIA '76) is one of the innovators who are featured. When Kapur worked for Ford, he helped re-design the Ford F-150, including the "King Ranch" model, a pickup truck that combines high luxury and the essence of the cowboy spirit.

Today, Kapur is president of the Truck Division for the International Truck and Engine Corporation, which recently partnered with students in Carnegie Mellon's interdisciplinary, award-winning Integrated Product Development (IPD) course, in which student teams work with a corporate sponsor, such as Ford and New Balance, to develop new products.

Five teams of students enrolled in last spring's IPD course produced five potential breakthrough products for International Truck and Engine to consider in its quest for a more homey truck cabin. The company knew that if it could create a space that helped drivers feel more comfortable, it would create happier, better rested and, therefore, safer and more productive drivers over the long haul.

While it's still too early to tell exactly how many of these products might become part of the sleeper cab, it's clear that some Carnegie Mellon ideas will be pursued.

For more information on "The Design of Things to Come" and the IPD course, visit

"The Design of Things to Come: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Products" can be purchased at

For more on The Design of Things to Come, visit

Mike Laffin and Greg Faist
October 12, 2005

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