The Background of Product Development: Interview with a Manager #1



Interview with a product development manager

Are you interested in our product development stories? I actually am! Due to specialization at work, I don’t know much about how our products have been developed. Under the veil of work, I asked many questions to our product development manager. The questions that I’m personally interested in the answers to. They are more about the value he has in product development, rather than concrete methods of product development. This is delivered in two times: this week and next week.

Q 1. Why did you decide to work in the product development of furniture, not other products?

A 1. When I studied at Collage of Arts, the most popular industries were cars and electrical appliances, but most people working there didn’t look so happy. As specialization progressed, some people always worked on door mirrors, others worked on switch knobs, etc. On the other hand, we can see a broader view if it’s furniture. This is the first reason. Another reason is the nature of furniture as a product. It’s simple, and the structure is almost equal to appearance, which I really like.

The drawing on the prototype, and some sketches written on the prototype.


Q 2. Don’t you want to design furniture on your own from scratch?

A 2. Yes, of course, but mind you, I really enjoy myself. I believe what is the most desired quality for product development managers is communication skills. Sometimes, the opinions of our production team and designers conflict. I can understand both and always enjoy communicating with both to find a compromise. In addition, it’s exciting and challenging to work with outside designers. They’re a breath of fresh air for us. It’s sometimes difficult for me to think out of the box, because I know too much about woodworking.

A dining chair without arms. It is one of the most simple design chair.

Q 3. Are you always convinced before release that a new product would sell well?

A 3. Not always. Funnily enough, the chance of my guess being correct is higher especially when new products don’t sell well. Don’t get me wrong. We always give it all we got, but I don’t think products good in quality and design always sell well. That’s what’s interesting about product development.

This sparked my interest more about his opinion on design, and I dug it deeper.

To be continued to #2…


Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.