Suppliers of telecommunications and computer equipment, as well as other firms operating in rapidly changing environments, rely increasingly on their product designers for the formulation of opportunities for innovative new products-those that are more than simple refinements or extensions of established designs. This contrasts with the traditional use of designers to translate opportunities into products with specific properties and features only after they have been formulated by marketing and product managers. In this article, Antonio Bailetti and Paul Guild report on preliminary findings of a study undertaken by a leading world-wide supplier of telecommunications equipment to improve search methods leading to the formulation of opportunities for innovative new products. The implementation of a search method that relied upon direct contact between multidisciplinary teams with carefully selected sources of outside knowledge provided the setting for the study. Reported are 40 designers' impressions of the benefits derived from face-to-face exposure to external champions of innovation; the relationship between the characteristics of the sites that had been visited and the designers' perceptions of usefulness of the information acquired from the visits; and the differences in visiting and non-visiting designers' perceptions of the visits. The study is exploratory in nature and draws attention to the fact that more effort should be spent on examining how designers can best participate in the opportunity formulation process.

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Journal Journal of Product Innovation Management
Bailetti, A.J, & Guild, P.D. (Paul D). (1991). Designers' impressions of direct contact between product designers and champions of innovation. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 8(2), 91–103. doi:10.1016/0737-6782(91)90003-H