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DO YOU THINK you’d enjoy constant pressure to innovate? If so, consider working in the toy industry. For Fisher-Price, the subsidiary of Mattel that focuses on infant and preschool lines, nearly three-fourths of annual sales come during the holiday season. Trying to anticipate what will sell in any given year can be migraine inducing even for the most experienced industry executives. Fisher-Price’s head of research and development, Tina Zinter-Chahin, compares her industry to fashion: “Much the same, but with hard tooling.”

To remain competitive, Fisher-Price produces several hundred new products each year. That ...

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