What can you learn from an academic?

Several years ago I joined the Product Development and Management Association or PDMA. As part of my membership I received two magazines, one is Visions Magazine and the other is the Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM). JPIM is a peer reviewed academic research journal that publishes riveting articles such as “A Conjoint-Hazard Model of the Timing of Buyers’ Upgrading to Improved Versions of High-Technology Products.” Now before anyone concludes that I’m making fun of the JPIM or this particular article, my characterization is not meant to diminish anything or anyone but to simply highlight the truly academic nature of much of the journals content. That being said, I still review each issue (published bi-monthly) as it arrives because even the heady writing of Ph.D.s yields value; and every once in awhile you get an article like “Legitimizing Academic Research in Design: Lessons from Research on New Product Development and Innovation”. This gem was in Volume 28, Number 3, May 2011 pg 428.

The JPIM takes a little getting used to if you’ve been out of college for a few years but once you cut through the quantitative analysis math and the academic vocabulary, there’s a lot to be learned. I picked up things like why people choose to buy things when they do, why some people choose more expensive products over other less expensive, identical products and of course, I spent 30 minutes of my life reading a meta-analysis of the last 20 years of JPIM articles that attempted to tease out trends in research. That last one was more for my own personal enjoyment, but the rest could be universally applicable for product developers.

I share this all with you on Friday because I feel that sometimes we spend so much time focusing on the fact we don’t have enough money to do the market research we so desperately need when for a couple hundred dollars a year, you could join a group like PDMA and get approximately 1,000 pages of research each year at no additional charge – no how often do you find research that cheap?

If you would like to learn more, you can check out the other values of membership in PDMA here. You can also learn more at the upcoming Product Innovation Management conference in Phoenix, October 29 – November 2.