The Magic Bike Company

Where do Good Products Come From

There are three great design themes: making something beautiful, making something easier, and making something possible. The best designs accomplish all three at once. A successful product and business will continually improve customers’ lives. As customers use your product to make their lives better, they will face new challenges and desire new goals and outcomes.
This video presents IDEO's process for understanding people problems and discovering solutions grounded in human centered design.


For your customer, the product is ultimately his or her experience of it and nothing more. So when you are creating and evolving a product, your primary role is really managing the experience of those who will use it. Which means that, at the end of the day, a great product maker must have empathy for the user’s experience! This video presents using emphathy to get to new solutions for solving people problems.


It was during American occupation of Japan (1945- 1952) when GHQ (offices of the Allied occupation) placed an order of vacuum tubes to Toshiba. Nishibori recalled the American officers wanted to see a 'control chart' from the manufacturing process being used to produce their order. No one at Toshiba knew what it was. “You don't know a control chart? How do you plan to manage quality?” Nishibori remembers replying, “If we, engineers at Toshiba, don't know it, most likely no one in Japan knows.” retrieved from QFD Institute Deming Influence on Post-war Japanese Quality Development
No compromise with quality for profit and search for perfection are the two most important factors behind the success of LEGO
I think that part of their success was because of the dedication and commitment to quality, they truly believed that their customers deserved the best so they focused so much in the details and at the end that resulted in more sales. I have also read articles that today, Lego actually holds their manufacturing greater than Six-Sigma (closer to 8 or 9 sigma). That is quite impressive for a toy company. “ The bricks are so meticulously made that the company claims that out of every 1 million elements made, just 18 will be declared defective and removed from the set.”


I ask my students to watch this video and comment on the Lego Company. The students inevitability comment on the empathy shown by the owner towards his workers and the willingness to take risks. In addition there are comments on the quality of the companies products. Students sometime relate Statistical Process Control to quality. In the case of Lego blocks the dimensional tolerance on the blocks have to be met. There is no other option. Out of the box the parts need to fit or they will be deemed useless.
lego blocks
This applies not only to parts that are contained in an assembly but also to processes involved in safety. For example the fueling process for SpaceX Falcon rocket launches.
SpaceX Falcon Rocket
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket relies on a combination of liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene propellant, which has less mass than conventional rocket fuel. This lets them pack more fuel into their rockets, and to be able to place larger payloads into orbit. However, this method requires that the rocket be immediately fueled before launch so that the fuel does not have time to warm up and expand. There is no room for error in this process. Read more at:
“Disruptive technologies are dismissed as toys because when they are first launched they “undershoot” user needs. The first telephone could only carry voices a mile or two. The leading telco of the time, Western Union, passed on acquiring the phone because they didn’t see how it could possibly be useful to businesses and railroads – their primary customers.” Chris Dixon, gp at a16z. Learn more on how to recognize disruptive innovative products at Andrew Chen's Blog posting.
A made-to-measure item is a standard one customized at the factory in certain measurements and details. Bespoke is made from scratch to your specifications. In order to automate anything, you need to standardize the outputs (the results, what you want to happen) and you need to standardize the inputs (the work you’ll be doing).
To standardize outputs, you need to sit down and determine what levels of quality and performance you want out of your work/outcomes. This means clearing a few hours from your calendar, and sitting down writing out every outcome that could happen and picking which mix of outcomes are most profitable and desirable. You should standardize outputs, to some extent, before looking to standardize inputs.
In other words, start with what quality levels and output you want. From there, you can work to pick the tools and work processes that are most reliable and inexpensive to get to that levels of performance. Start with an image in your head of what a perfect outcome would look like, but what does a an outcome you can live with look like? Begin your planning with an outcome in mind that’s good enough to get the job done. It might be helpful to compare your perfect outcome and your good enough outcome. But be aware that the resistence might be talking to you.
The process will be different if you are producing rocket ships or mass producing small plastic parts that need to snap together in small hands. The decision on quality has consquences on the finances of the organization. “If you take a very extreme case, purists in the tech industry kind of hated Steve Jobs because they’d look at Apple products and say, 'If you look at the objective measures of speed or process of power or whatever, they’re actually less impressive than you’ll get in this new LG Android phone or whatever.' Therefore, they kind of thought that Steve was a bit of a snake oil salesman. What Steve was doing was saying actually, 'Beyond a certain point, you hit the law of diminishing returns with all of the clock speed objective stuff. Actually, let’s focus the market on something like the loveliness of the interface and the joy that results from using it, and we’ll create psychological value rather than objective value.' ” retrieved from - 4 © 2017 FARNAM STREET MEDIA INC.
As the pace of innovation accelerates, human behavior, not technological restraints, will be the deciding factor of whether products are adopted or discarded. If new products and services are to positively impact our lives, they must find a gateway into our daily routines. The familiar done differently is the way to users’ minds and hearts — and sometimes their stomachs. Quaint but unnecessary representations of the familiar became a hallmark of Apple products. As Claire Evans wrote for Motherboard, “While under the direction of the late Steve Jobs, Apple’s design aesthetic tended heavily towards the skeuomorphic. The Apple desktop calendar, famously, is rendered with accents of rich Corinthian leather; its bookshelves gleam with wood veneers, its chrome always brushed, its pages stitched and torn, its tabletop felt green.” Read Nir Eyal's interview with Jon Ivey at — Nir & Far

teehanlax - comments on jobs to be done

When you’re starting to design a new product, or redesigning an existing one, the most important thing you can do is validate that the problem you are trying to solve is meaningful, important, and shared by a large enough group of people that a solution is likely to succeed in the market.
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and coauthors articulated the JTBD concept in a Sloan Management Review article (Spring 2007) as follows: “Most companies segment their markets by customer demographics or product characteristics and differentiate their offerings by adding features and functions. But the consumer has a different view of the marketplace. He simply has a job to be done and is seeking to 'hire' the best product or service to do it.”
However, there are two significant challenges to overcome. First, it is difficult to find the right tools to truly understand these complex problems. Second, we have a strong human desire to conceive a highly-rationalized approach to deal with our insecurity in the face of many unknowns and perceived risks – especially when the stakes are high. These two forces often work against each other and lead to bad solutions that don’t solve real problems.
So where can we look for insights to guide us? It’s tempting to look at consumer market research segmented by demographics, psychographics, or technographics for data points that confirm or refute our hunches. There’s plenty of this out there, and it has been gathered and analyzed by smart people working at reputable companies.
It’s also tempting to look at competitors in a market and try to reverse-engineer their success, or classify them on some spectrum of qualities that help us identify arbitrary attributes that could differentiate us (“We’re like the Tumblr for the knitting community!”).
In the case of an existing product, you could also look at your analytics and hope the data will point you in the direction of the next big thing you should do. Finally, it’s easy to come up with a list of ideas, features, and requests from existing or prospective customers (see: The Homer) that seem worthy of building.
This type of data can make us feel more confident about our decisions and steer us down a path toward building a solution that is clearer in our minds. But how do you make sense of it all and ensure you’re laser-focused on solving the underlying problems people have in their lives instead of just the thing that came to mind today? And how might we identify unmet needs (non-consumption or hacks) from this data? We can’t.
The problem is that this data is almost always a lagging indicator of behaviour. Even when we aggregate it all together and look for trends, we are reporting something that has already happened, but that doesn’t mean we understand why it happened. Yet the why is the single most important thing to identify in product design. “Why does this exist?” “Why might someone actually change their behaviour and use this?”

The Iceberg

unsplash image from Jon Del Rivero
It is said that 90% of an iceberg is underwater. I believe the same analogy applies to the insights we use to focus our creative energy when designing a product. It’s easy to find the lagging indicators – the 10% that is above water – but much harder to find the leading indicators of potential customer behaviour. And focusing only on lagging indicators is a dangerous blindness to have when you’re trying to find product-market fit and persuade people to switch to your product.
Teehan+Lax believed that single most important thing you can identify when creating a product is the jobs-to-be-done that your existing or potential customers have in their lives. Jobs-to-be-done are what cause a customer to hire or fire a product. Finding a poorly-served job that many people critically share is the most important factor in identifying new opportunities and building disruptive solutions. These are the leading indicators of customer behaviour that help you stay focused on building the things that matter and ignoring the things that don’t.

This would suggest that most successful products are created by one of four types of people

Geniuses who have a strong internalized sense of important jobs-to-be-done. These people are few-and-far between. They are the Steve Jobs of the world. Through an incredibly prescient vision, drive, and experience, these individuals are wired to identify and build things that solve important jobs-to-be-done. People who have identified a problem they have, and decide to create a better solution first-and-foremost for themselves. By focusing on their own problems, they remain focused on what matters and have an easier time identifying other people who might share this problem and hire their solution.
People who create a product and, somewhat by chance, stumble upon a compelling job-to-be-done that propels them to success. This is dangerous – especially with complex digital products. It becomes easy to misunderstand the reasons people have hired you and to blindly push your product in a direction that actually moves away from solving the most important jobs-to-be-done. Over time, these products can begin to poorly serve the market, leaving the door open to competitive threats.
People who understand the importance of creating products that solve real customer problems, and have a set of tools and frameworks like jobs-to-be-done that they use to identify and validate the real human problems they’re trying to solve in the market. At Teehan+Lax, we push ourselves and our clients to be in the fourth category. The third category is too hit-and-miss (although you can get there more reliably by building stuff quickly and validating in market), and the first and second categories are too rare.

How We Do This?

The idea behind jobs-to-be-done is relatively straightforward. We’re all trying to make some kind of progress in our lives with regards to problems or jobs that we have, and we hire various solutions to solve them for us. We continue to use a solution so long as it continues to adequately address the jobs we have (whether we’re conscious of it or not).
But identifying these jobs is the tricky part. Here’s a simplified form of the methodology we use: Find people who have recently hired or fired a relevant product. Interview them to investigate what forces and factors have led to this event. Don’t spend any time talking about what they like or didn’t like about the product, what features they want to see in the future, etc. These are traps. Analyze these forces and factors to pull out and prioritize the jobs-to-be-done.
This process looks more like detective work than conventional marketing research — in large part because most of us have low self-awareness of why we ‘hire’ things. We have found it greatly outperforms conventional research approaches because it avoids the trap of looking for esoteric or abstract ‘insights,’ and instead focuses relentlessly on answering very plain questions that get to the crux of why we do what we do.
At this point, you should have a set of jobs-to-be-done that, if employed correctly, will serve as a lens through which most product decision-making can exist. If an idea or feature doesn’t clearly resolve the job in some way, it doesn’t deserve to exist or should be de-prioritized.
We believe these are the most important leading indicators, because the day you stop adequately serving these jobs, or a competitor serves them better, is the day you start losing customers. This article was copied from the former website of teehanlax which joined fcaebook. It is the best and easiest explaination of the innovation process refered to as “jobs to be done”. Written by Eric Portelance on November 1,2013 in How We Work, Strategy on the teehanlax website.
This article examines why we buy what we buy, and how a product ‘spreads’ to reach profitability. “The 10 Commandments of Good Products”. The most simple and obvious way to invent a product or service that has value is by making something that people don’t like to do, easier, faster, more efficient, or non-existent.