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Product Development at Oden - Our approach to solving manufacturing problems

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    Jeannette Lee

A common goal in manufacturing is process improvement. At Oden, we also share that goal for ourselves. For the better part of the year, we have been redefining what product development means at Oden—how we transform a challenge into an outcome. We believe the best way is through an iterative and collaborative approach rooted in user-centricity.

User Centricity

User-centricity means curiosity and empathy towards the people and processes within manufacturing. We continually build our understanding of our users through ongoing engagements with them—exploratory conversations, guided research initiatives—and tracking product analytics. Having this foundational knowledge of user priorities, motivations, and behaviors helps us contextualize the problems and opportunities that affect our users’ responsibilities.

Golden Run

Through user research, we know that a key motivation for manufacturers is to reduce production cost, or to maximize output and minimize waste. Our advanced analytics team developed a model that helps track instances of optimized production output without quality loss. There are many directions this model can be applied, but we also know that daily operations for manufacturers include comparing current or recent production to target production behavior. Having the motivation and behavior helped us contextualize the opportunity and develop towards comparative benchmarking.


Because we are building solutions for other people, it is natural to have knowledge gaps and assumptions—to start with ambiguity. Iterating helps us reduce ambiguity by testing assumptions, learning new and more nuanced things, and refining our user and problem understandings. It helps us develop clearer solutions to clearer problems. Whether it’s the product team testing a prototype with process engineers, the data science team engaging with quality engineers to refine an analytic model, or the customer experience team sharing their insights on user problems, we are constantly iterating.

Metric Separation Score

Scrap production is a longstanding problem in manufacturing, and identifying what caused it is a high priority goal. We saw an opportunity to help our users address this priority. Initially we started broad, looking at all types of scrap, but quickly found that there were too many factors and variables for any one workflow to handle elegantly. Many iterations later—which included gathering feedback from customer calls, internal alignment, analytic model testing, and prototype testing—we refined the scope to helping manufacturers identify which inline metrics more likely correspond to scrap production through a metric measurement tool.


Each Odenite brings a different set of skills and experiences, yet we all strive to build better solutions for our users. Collaboration fosters shared responsibility, understanding, growth, and goals, as well as creative problem solving. We value a willingness to participate and improve, adapting to new information and situations, and sharing in curiosity and learning. Through cross-team collaboration, we help each other understand our users better and imagine more creative solutions.

Double Diamond

We use the divergent and convergent thinking of the Double Diamond to give shape to our collaborative approach. Insights on users are gathered and shared from anywhere in the organization, and is a continuous process. The idea is to always be learning about our users. From our pool of user understanding, we converge on an opportunity, which is prioritized, formalized, and reviewed. Once we have a specific problem in mind, we diverge again and brainstorm possible solutions. Brainstorming is conducted by the relevant team, though interested parties are welcome to participate. All ideas are welcome. Identifying the scope, workflow, risks, requirements, and expectations help us converge on a solution to develop.

In order to build better solutions for our users, we must first identify the problem. To identify the problem, we must understand our users’ priorities, motivations, and behaviors. Working together and keeping our users at the center of our learning and iterating make up the core of how we approach solving manufacturing problems.