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Resourceful sensemaking: overcoming barriers between marketing and design in NPD

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 14:17 authored by Michael BeverlandMichael Beverland, Pietro Micheli, Francis J Farrelly
New product development (NPD) success depends on the capacity of different functions to effectively collaborate. In particular, while recent studies have highlighted the importance of marketing and design working together, research suggests this relationship is often fraught with conflict due to different “thought worlds.” However, empirical research also identifies that the solution lies not in reducing the psychological distance between the two functions, but in the sensemaking practices used by designers and marketers to expand each other's understanding of the potential NPD solution. This process is known as resourceful sensemaking, and it refers to practitioners’ capacity to transform knowledge with the aim of expanding each other's horizons to ensure better team outcomes. Drawing on 71 interviews with designers and marketers in Australia and New Zealand, we examine how each function strategically deploys knowledge of the other to improve NPD outcomes. Building on the sensemaking literature, we demonstrate that while still drawing on different thought worlds, the inputs of both designers and marketers are necessary for effective NPD. We also identify that both are capable of creating a common framework of meaning through three resourceful sensemaking practices: exposing, co-opting, and repurposing. Moreover, we identify the need for resourceful sensemaking that results in horizon-expanding discourse among those involved in NPD. These practices are found to enable marketers and designers to expand the range of considerations and inputs into NPD; help organizations reconcile either/or dualisms; and lead them to identify unmet consumer needs, which result in the creation of innovative products. This paper thereby advances understanding of interfunctional coordination in NPD, integration of design into NPD, and sensemaking more broadly.


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The Journal Of Product Innovation Management









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