As to infrastructure, our power outages probably have something to do with a large construction project going on close to our house. A couple of years ago there was a gas main explosion in San Bruno, a town fairly close to where we live. Eight people were killed and a number of homes burned. As a result Pacific Gas and Electric (our supplier) has been doing a survey of gas pipelines, and guess what, a fairly main street close to our house has been ripped up for several months to replace a large gas pipeline (looks like 18 inches in diameter or so), which of course is buried close to other utilities. the job is requiring massive amounts of huge equipment and numbers of people. As I wait to be waved through the often one-way traffic, I cannot help but think about the many other elements of U.S. infrastructure that need upgrading, and the cost of doing so.
Back to the Stanford Good Products Bad Products course. The quarter is coming to an end and the student groups continue to report on businesses that produce products that they feel demonstrate the elements of quality in my book. On March 7, reports were delivered on three products that have high emotional impact and fulfill various needs. The first was Gatorade (website here), which has evolved over time from being seen as a functional replacement of electrolytes, to being a symbol of heroic accomplishment (often consumed in victorious glee and sometimes thrown on coaches). The second was Klutz (here), a company that produces products that are both educational and fun and show a profitable use of humor. The third was perfume, the presentation focusing on the making of perfume, but mentioning several companies that have become famous for a particular scent (Chanel #5?)
The fourth presentation focused on aesthetics and on a Kickstart funded startup that makes a pillow entitled the Ostrich Pillow, which is intended for better nap-taking during normally awake times. This resulted in some excellent class discussion ranging from the advantages of better support and comfort to take such naps (in class?) to the rather strange appearance of the pillow. You can see the reasons by looking at the website here. I guarantee you will have a reaction!. All in all another excellent day of presentations – lots of products to pass around, good use of media, etc.
I will write a couple more posts on presentations and then a final wrap up of the class, and then go on to other product quality comments. I once again recommend the blog site here containing a large number of individual student nominations of good and bad products for an insight to present university student values, some interesting and provocative products, and the range of quality in our industrial output.