Products, Production, and Productivity


Regardless of your NPD process choice, the product is the goal of your work. We design and develop new products to meet customer needs and business objectives. We often think of the product as serving a hierarchy of needs. (Read more in Chapter 4 of The Innovation ANSWER Book.)

Core Benefit

Every product for sale within a given category must deliver a core benefit for all customers. Airplanes offer quick transportation over long distances. They are propelled above the ground to avoid slow travel and fly at high speeds to help us arrive at our destination faster. That is the core benefit of an airplane.

Tangible Benefits

Today, all passenger airplanes have seats that recline, tray tables to hold stuff, and overhead lighting so you can read in dim light. These are all tangible benefits, meaning we can touch them in real life. Brands differentiate by changing the quality of tangible benefits in a product. Some airlines have plastic seat covers, some have fabric, and still others have leather.

Augmented Features

Often customers make product decisions using tangible features and prices. If I don’t want to spend a lot of money, I will fly the budget airline and tolerate a plastic-covere4d seat. If you want to arrive in good form for a business meeting, you might choose the full-service air carrier with leather seats.


Production is defined as the creation of goods and services. As innovation leaders, the method of manufacturing is important to our decisions. If we design a product that is expensive, difficult, or complex to manufacture, it might not be profitable, and innovations are defined as successful only when they earn revenue.


In standard terms, we measure productivity by dividing units of output by units of input (e.g. labor). In the United States, productivity growth is slowing as we switch from production of goods and to service sectors. Reliance on imports and outsourcing become critical activities for businesses to succeed.

What’s Next?

So, we have defined products, production, and productivity. What do you do with this information? As a product development leader, you should always focus on the customer first. What is the core benefit that the product satisfies? How can you differentiate your brand and offering through tangible benefits and augmented features?

Learn More

To learn more about these concepts and to practice applying them in your own company, join me for the New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification workshop starting Thursday, 14 January at 2:00 pm Central Time. Register here for the 4, two-hour sessions. If you’re interested in increasing productivity and streamlining production, join me for the CPEM (Certified Professional Engineering Management) review course. And, for personalized problem-solving or customized training, contact me at for coaching or consulting.

About Me

I am inspired by writing, teaching, and coaching. I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. It brings me joy to help you build innovation leaders. Teresa Jurgens-Kowal is an experienced innovation professional with a passion for lifelong learning with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MBA in Computer and Information Decision Making. My credentials include PE (State of Louisiana), NPDP, PMP®, and CPEM, and I am a DiSC® certified facilitator. Contact me at or area code 281 + phone 787–3979 for more information on coaching for entrepreneurs and innovators.



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Teresa Kowal

Teresa Kowal


I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. My passion is innovation and helping others improve their new product development ecosystems.