Course Texts

Books and articles used as reading assignments in the class:

Product Development Processes:

Teacher's Note: this is the first week's reading, to level set the product development process, and to recognize challenges in status quo development processes.

The Process of Development

34 pp. This chapter explores the Detroit-based automotive product development process, identifying the information assets to be developed and the linkages that must be managed for each of the four major development activities. While the article was written in 1991, students tell me that it is still relevant.

Six Myths of Product Development

11pp. The authors identify at six myths: 1) High utilization of resources will make the department more efficient; 2) Processing work in large batches will be more economical; 3) Teams need to faithfully follow their development plan, minimizing any deviations from it; 4) The sooner a project is started, the sooner it will be finished; 5) The more features a product has, the better customers will like it; and 6) Projects will be more successful if teams "get them right the first time." The authors explain the negative effects these "principles" have when applied to product development, offer practical guidelines on overcoming them, and walk readers through a visual tool that will help them keep projects on track.

Systems Thinking and Organizational Learning

Teacher's Note: This book is divided into three sections where we cover one section per week.

The Fifth Discipline (2nd. ed.) by Peter Senge (2006)

This revised edition of Peter Senge’s bestselling classic, The Fifth Discipline, is based on fifteen years of experience in putting the book’s ideas into practice. As Senge makes clear, in the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition. The leadership stories in the book demonstrate the many ways that the core ideas in The Fifth Discipline, many of which seemed radical when first published in 1990, have become deeply integrated into people’s ways of seeing the world and their managerial practices.

Systemic Risk

Teacher's Note: This book was added in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to recognize systemic risks. This book is the basis for the "Bat Sneezed" lecture.

The Butterfly Defect How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It, by Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan.

Goldin and Mariathasan demonstrate that systemic risk issues are now endemic everywhere—in supply chains, pandemics, infrastructure, ecology and climate change, economics, and politics. Unless we address these concerns, they will lead to greater protectionism, xenophobia, nationalism, and, inevitably, deglobalization, rising inequality, conflict, and slower growth.

The Butterfly Defect shows that mitigating uncertainty and risk in an interconnected world is an essential task for our future.