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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dee Kapur

In The Design of Things to Come: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Products (Wharton School Publishing), authors Jonathan Cagan, Craig Vogel and Peter Boatwright present a new generation of products that transform consumer lifestyles. The authors also profile a new generation of innovators, looking at how they inspire people around them and turn their visions into reality.

One of them is Dee Kapur, who headed the Truck Division of International Truck and Engine of Ford.When Kapur started in automotive design, he was as fascinated with styling as he was with engineering. While directing the Truck Division at Ford, Kapur, along with marketeers Bob Masone and Allison Howitt and head truck designer Pat Schiavone, was viewing an old two-seat roadster with saddle leather interior. The car exuded high class, and at the same time, the leather reminded him of the saddles cowboys used. And those cowboys happen to be customers of pickup trucks. Wouldn't it be great if a pickup had a similarly luxurious interior, one that still connected to the cowboy aura? That leap led to the development of a limited-edition F-150 pickup with saddle leather interior, co-branded with the King Ranch in South Texas.The King Ranch accomplished a number of things inside Ford as well as with the F-150.

Kapur sums up his approach to managing innovation in three steps:

1. Make innovation and boldness part of the culture -- everyone needs to know what you stand for.
2. Role-model innovation as often and in as many forums as
you can.
3. Institute a management process that fosters innovation.

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