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McKinsey Quarterly

Squeezing more ideas from product teardowns

Some companies are using product teardowns to dismantle silo culture in product development.

Engineers and purchasers love product teardowns—the practice of dismantling products into parts as a way to spark fresh thinking. Few manufacturers, however, elevate the practice above Skunk Works status, and many executives pigeonhole it as a tactical exercise in cost cutting. Some companies, however, are throwing open the doors of their Skunk Works labs and using teardowns as opportunities to increase cross-functional collaboration. Along the way, they are saving more money, capitalizing better on customer insights, and improving the revenue potential of their products.

In this interactive, we explore margin-improvement opportunities from teardowns that we’ve identified in the consumer goods industry and highlight how companies in the high-tech and construction-equipment industries are using this venerable tool in new ways.

About the author(s)

Dave Fedewa and Ashish Kothari are consultants in McKinsey’s Chicago office, where Ananth Narayanan is a principal.

The authors would like to thank Fabrice Le Garrec, Stephan Mohr, Lou Rassey, and Jim Williams for their contributions to this article

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