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Acme Corp.: Designing a Better Computer Mouse Case Study

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Updated: Sep 5th, 2022

The current case is taking place at Acme Corp., a modern technological company. At the moment, Acme Corp. is challenged with a task that it needs to complete within six months. Namely, the company seeks to design a new mouse to go with a personal computer, which in the case of success, would guarantee a competitive edge over contenders. The approach that the company is taking toward the early stages of the development process is to only include design engineers and brainstorm ideas. This essay analyzes the case and provides recommendations for improving the robustness of the process.

The Chief Design Engineer, Michael Caroll plays the role of the facilitator of the meeting: he controls its flow and steers the meeting in the right direction (Straus, 2017). Caroll keeps all the attendants focused on the task and prevents the conversation from digressing. Apart from that, the facilitator does not allow a single person or a group of people to talk over others. Everyone is encouraged to speak out as long as they stay on topic and make valuable contributions.

A skilled facilitator uses a whole range of techniques to keep meetings productive, with some of them being observed in the current case. It is important to review desired outcomes and deliverables. In this case, all the meetings attendants will be sure of what is expected of them (Straus, 2017). One of the techniques used by Caroll is synthesizing the main themes: he accomplished it by categorizing the ideas collected during brainstorming. He assigned roles when he formed three groups for further discussion of the key ideas. A technique that was not present is balancing the meeting. Some members are typically more vocal than others, but those who are often dominated in meetings might still have good ideas (Watanabe et al., 2017). Thus, they should be given a voice and amplified by the facilitator.

The current meeting only consists of design engineers, which is less than ideal. On the one hand, it is intuitive to only include people whose responsibilities are directly related to the subject matter. Indeed, it is design engineers who will be primarily involved in the process of developing a new product. However, a meeting like the one that is described in the case ignores diverse perspectives on how to make a better mouse. Potentially, a product designer, a computer engineer, or someone from the sales team could chime in and provide their point of view. However, the biggest downside is the exclusion of future users: they are the people who will ultimately decide on the quality of the new product.

The relevant goal for subsequent meetings should be analyzing and understanding customer needs. Sure, a glove-like mouse or a chip could be genuinely innovative, but it is readily imaginable how an ordinary customer could be cautious of a new, unknown product. There may be two approaches to surveying customers: quantitative and qualitative (Camilleri, 2018). On the one hand, it is important to gather statistics on the market niche, previous sales, and their dynamics. The data do not have to be strictly numerical: it may as well be unstructured data such as text reviews. Their sentiment and topics could tell a lot about customers’ preferences. On the other hand, only in-depth interviews can provide the team with insights into what customers want from a computer mouse.

References

Camilleri, M. A. (2018). Understanding customer needs and wants. In Travel marketing, tourism economics and the airline product (pp. 29-50). Springer, Cham.

Straus, D. A. (2017). Managing meetings to build consensus. In Multi-Party Dispute Resolution, Democracy and Decision-Making (pp. 389-425). Routledge.

Watanabe, E., Ozeki, T., & Kohama, T. (2017). Analysis of behaviors of participants in meetings. In International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (pp. 427-438). Springer, Cham.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Acme Corp.: Designing a Better Computer Mouse." September 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/acme-corp-designing-a-better-computer-mouse/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Acme Corp.: Designing a Better Computer Mouse'. 5 September.

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