This paper addresses two major challenges new product development teams face in making a product people want. The first challenge is to frame the design situation based on a real need of a customer. The second challenge is to get everyone on the team in agreement about what that framing is — everyone needs to be on the same page about what it is they’re doing. Yet these two challenges are not independent, they are intertwined with each other, connected by the concrete research and sharing activities the teams perform. We introduce a framework to help understand the path of a design team along these two dimensions as well as illustrations of the three most common paths observed among graduate multidisciplinary new product development teams as supported by interviews and survey data. These case studies form the basis of four themes to help teams navigate the new product development process.

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