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October 30, 2007


Todd Kalhar

Jon, I just want to thank you again for posting your thoughts and experiences at the Institute of Design for the rest of us to enjoy and learn from.

I came to design by way of "climbing the food chain" so to speak. I worked my way through high school and college selling software and hardware for a retail chain that took off along with PCs in the late 80's and early 90's. For all the wonders of the technology, I found that people were intimidated and frustrated with most of what they purchased. The gems that stood out, all had something in common ... good design.

My following jobs took me into software training, network administration and software programming, then web development. As I got closer to the "source", I found that most products were being built with the best of intentions but the worst of experiences.

I came across the concept of interaction/experience design in my web development years and it explained all of the things that had been coalescing in my mind. I've since spent a great deal of time reading and integrating better design practices in my own work, and trying to convince others to do the same.

It's been a very strange, organic growth into the area of design, but it has also been incredibly rewarding. Now I'm looking for ways to get a wider range of experience in design and find mentors that can help me continue to grow.

Keep those posts coming!

Matt Melchiori

There is a fairly new option in the midwest for those looking to advance their knowledge of product development, innovation, and design. The six-year old Master of Product Development (www.mpd.northwestern.edu) program at Northwestern is a two-year part-time degree that encompasses all areas of product design. Including courses like Creativity and Innovation, Strategy in Design, and Human Factors, in my opinion this program combines the best of the MBA and design worlds.

I started the program this fall and so far find it to be a first-rate operation. The courses are taught by enthusiastic, knowledgeable professors (some Kellogg, some McCormick, and some brought in) that truly care about what they are teaching. The students are motivated, driven, and very knowledgeable since 98% of them come from within the product development industry. Harley-Davidson is among the companies represented.

The courses are taught 1 day per week, alternate Fridays and Saturdays. They require a signed letter of commitment from your current employer so they know that you are serious about the program.

I would highly recommend the program to anyone who wants to advance their career in product development but wants to stay at their current position. I am certainly enjoying it!


Interesting to hear about the WD-40 and the smart straw. How did your firm play a part in the project? I ask this because from my July/August 07 edition of I.D. magazine, they highlight the smart straw (best of category: Packaging) as developed by Gad Shaanan Design (Montreal). I know PD is a multidisciplinary process; articles can often leave out important auxiliary parties to a larger meta projects.

I came to design through self-taught multimedia design in college, although majoring in International Business, German, and Supply Chain Management. In 05, I worked in sales for a CPG firm (design here, import from China). Slowly since then, I've taught myself more about marketing and graphic/web design. Taking on a complete web makeover project for a NPD consultancy earlier this year, I fully delved into books by the PDMA, Robert Cooper, Tom Kelley, and many other resources along the way. An invaluable experience into the larger scope of marketing and industrial design. I'd love to do a Masters someday...I'll wait for the right time and program.

Jon Campbell

Hi, Mario. Thanks for sharing your "arrival in design" story. Also, you're absolutely right Gad Shaanan was involved. They developed the swivel top in the middle of the new product process. C-K led the ideation sessions, concept evaluation process, prototyping, research and then during the usability testing we found that the original swivel-top attachment provided by the contract manufacturer was too flimsy and also conveyed a cheap feeling. This was important because of the heavy-duty use of WD-40 and the fact that the margins on the product were going to be higher than a regular can. At that point there was the need for industrial design expertise and the client engaged Gad Shanaan because of some local San Diego ties with WD-40 being based there. GS did a great job in designing the top. With the top done, C-K completed research, handled the packaging design and the product launch. So we were intimately involved from start to finish on Smart Straw. Very exciting project. I'll have to hunt down a copy of the article.




Thanks for the explanation. It further goes to show the true nature of the process of PD. At my first employer, we had a product design & development dept. that would make the various company lines AND exclusive products for retailers. My territory was Food, Drug, and Mass so certain key accounts like Walgreen's, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, and others were quite picky (they had a natural right to be if they're purchasing $400k - $1.5 million). Despite great design talent, good ideation and group participation, and a retailer-focused culture...the big problems were resource management (people, funds, time), poor up-front homework, and the owner's tendency to micro-manage and meddle with projects in addition to expressing anger/impatience that ended oft with low morale for the next few hours. Fun times nonetheless :)

Jamey Shiels


Thanks for the follow up on how you worked your way to the design program. I appreciate the insight. Also, thank you for the posts on the material you're involved with. It helps to define the expectations of the program and your learnings in design.


chaeri Jang

thanks jon, i'm chaeri who is doing promotion & design jobs at samsung. and now preparing for applying to ID where i can learn design thinking and design planning. i'm so inspired to your posting and happy to find your site. :>

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