MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


The mission of the Center for Innovation in Product Development (CIPD) is to advance the theory and practice of product development by combining the best ideas and experience of industry and academia. Through the Center's research and education activities, we are exploring new ways to identify market opportunities, understand customers, and manage processes. We are searching for innovative approaches to defining, designing, and delivering products and services.

The Center, an interdisciplinary program between the School of Engineering and the School of Management, was created this year with funding from the National Science Foundation and collaborating corporate sponsors. Research in the Center is being conducted in four major areas. The first research area, "Defining Successful Products," is led by Xerox Fellow in Product Development, Don Clausing. Faculty and students in this research area have started working to answer questions such as: What processes will help industry best identify high-value products that truly meet customer needs? Through this research, the Center will strengthen the ability of companies not only to define outstanding products, but to ensure long-term success and profitability with those products.

The second area of research involves "Information-Based Development." Led by Associate Professor of Management Science Stephen Eppinger, faculty and students in this research area are seeking to determine what the phrase "information revolution" means for product development. By creating more effective information-based tools to support product development activities, the Center will help practitioners do their work more effectively and with greater efficiency.

"Enterprise Strategy," the third area of research, is led by Management Associate Professor Rebecca Henderson. She is working with faculty and students in this area to determine the relationships among the market environment, corporate capabilities, and product strategy. The Center's research here will explore potential improvements in enterprise strategy that can strengthen the product development process.

The final area of research, "Accelerating Capabilities Improvement," is led by Visiting Scholar David Bell of the Xerox Corporation. Questions of interest to this team are, "How can companies best benefit from research in product development?" and "How can a network of learning communities be created which spans academia and industry?" Faculty and students working in this area are studying and developing new tools and methods which will enable companies to absorb best practices, both established and emerging, with greater speed and efficiency.

In the near future, the Center will start to test its results continuously by means of collaborative projects at member companies. Research in the Center has begun with the development of hypotheses to be tested. Partner companies are being identified as research sites. Information, which will be gathered on site, will then be brought back to MIT by our students, faculty, and industrial colleagues, who will develop ideas, software and other representations of their work which will then test the hypotheses. Testing, evaluation and demonstration will occur both at MIT and at member company sites. Follow-on projects will include commercialization activities with other companies whose business is to develop and sell product development tools and methods. These could be firms in the Computer-Aided Design industry or management consulting firms.

The Center's management currently includes the Director, Warren Seering, Weber Shaughness Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Research Director, John R. Hauser, Kirin Professor of Marketing. Center management also includes the Director of Industrial Collaboration, Kamala Grasso, and the Director of Finance and Administration, Jo-Anne Lema. Currently twenty-four faculty members, including the Center's Director and Research Director, are engaged in research related to the objectives of the Center.

Warren Seering

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97