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At Issue } essential reading

Systems Thinking: A Product Is More Than the Product

Don Norman
Thursday, September 3, 2009

In reality a product is all about the experience. It is about discovery, purchase, anticipation, opening the package, the very first usage. It is also about continued usage, learning, the need for assistance, updating, maintenance, supplies, and eventual renewal in the form of disposal or exchange. Most companies treat every stage as a different process, done by a different division of the company: R&D, manufacturing, packaging, sales, and then as a necessary afterthought, service. As a result there is seldom any coherence. Instead, there are contradictions. If you think of the product as a service, then the separate parts make no sense - the point of a product is to offer great experiences to its owner, which means that it offers a service. And that experience, that service, comprises the totality of its parts: The whole is indeed made up of all of the parts. The real value of a product consists of far more than the product’s components.

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