Enabling and Characterizing Twenty-First Century Skills in New Product Development Teams

Corie L. Cobb and Alice M. Agogino
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94709-1742. USA
E-mail: ccobb@me.berkeley.edu, agogino@berkeley.edu

Sara L. Beckman
Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94709±1740, USA
E-mail: beckman@haas.berkeley.edu

Leslie Speer
Industrial Design, San Jose State University, School of Art and Design
One Washington Square, San Jose, California 95192-0089, USA
E-mail: leslie.speer@sjsu.edu

This paper outlines a New Product Development (NPD) class designed to enable `flat world’ skills — multidisciplinary teamwork, rapid prototyping, creativity, business, entrepreneurship and human-centred design. This course aims to develop the skills necessary for successful product development in today’s competitive global marketplace. To accomplish a truly multidisciplinary dimension, the graduate course draws students from UC Berkeley’s Engineering, Business, and Information Systems departments, as well as from the Industrial Design programme at the California College of the Arts. Students from all of these programmes and colleges join forces on four to five person product development teams to step through the new product development process in detail, learning about the available tools and techniques to execute each step along the way. Each student brings his/her own disciplinary perspective to the team effort and must learn to synthesize that perspective with those of the other students in the group to develop a sound, marketable product or service. Students depart the semester understanding new product development processes as well as useful tools, techniques and organizational structures that support new product development practice. In recent years, we have added material on social entrepreneurship and have encouraged socially-conscious design projects. This paper presents quantitative and qualitative data gathered to evaluate teams and project-based learning outcomes along with case studies of three socially responsible ventures from our class that took the next step in regards to further developing their product or service after the end of the semester. Third party structured interviews and post mortem analyses of these teams provide a window into what enabled them to move their products to the next stage beyond the semester course. The three cases covered are: AgLinx Solutions, Revolution Foods and Seguro. All of these successful teams had a core group of dedicated student leaders who worked with teams having a diverse mix of skills.


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