Dennis Boyle, a senior designer at IDEO, was leading a team to develop a new hand-held device for Handspring called the Visor. The Visor was intended to compete with Razor, or Palm V project, a newest introduction of 3Com in its Palm devices line and was also designed by Boyle. It took Boyle almost 3 years to develop Palm V, while he had only 10 months for project Visor.
In order to meet his client aggressive schedule, Boyle would have to sacrifice his team innovative process, which often takes longer time but produce much better results. Should Dennis Boyle try to persuade his client to delay Visor launch date for a more satisfying product; or should he accept his client request, which could potentially lead to less desirable outcome? Issue Analysis The question here is clear. It is the choice between cost-leadership strategy and differentiation strategy.
While his client wanted to get the product available in the market early in order to sell as much as possible and also minimize the cost of development, Boyle, on the other hand, wanted to put more effort into development process to give the product a strong competitive edge and differentiate itself from its main competitor, the Palm V. To evaluate an appropriate course of actions for Boyle, we need to analyze the company that he worked in.
IDEO is a well known, innovative, human-centered designing firm whose core competencies are derived from the firm unique development model. This development process often takes a lot of time with many trial-and-error experiments, countless of prototypes to be removed in order to come up with one that worked best. From the beginning, IDEO seems to follow differentiation strategy rather than cost-effective strategy. IDEO does not hesitate to slow down the development process in order to come up with the absolute best solution.
Though this means higher cost for IDEO’s clients, it is how IDEO earned their fame. If Boyle was to satisfy his client, he would have to go against his own company’s methodology. Also, by doing that, he would give up IDEO’s core competencies and competitive advantages. Recommendation Of course one bad or inferior product does not mean the end of the world for IDEO or Boyle and his team. However, to maintain IDEO’s culture and preserve its competitive advantages in the long run, the only correct way for Boyle is to persuade his client to give him more time.
His clients’ argument would probably be that since Boyle and his team had worked on the Palm V project, it should not take as much effort for the Visor project. According to them, it would make more sense if they simply take what they had with the Palm V, make some adjustments and the work is done. Yet it is a competitor of the Palm V they were designing, not just a mere copy-cat. My recommendation to Boyle would be try to persuade his client, slow down and spend more time on the project. If his client insists, then it would be better off for both Boyle and IDEO to just drop the project.