Navigating solution space

Solution space is abstract, multi-dimensional and non-convex. The space contains known and partially explored optimum solutions, which are illustrated here as hilltops. Areas of solution space are inaccessible to us, either because someone else have established the Intellectual Property Rights to it or because it represents a ‘void’ in our own design or production capabilities – i.e. the solution depends on a materials or technique that is outside our organisation’s skills set. Continue reading “Navigating solution space”

Evidence-based decision making

Decision making is the forming of a causal argument that a chosen alternative will result a certain future outcome. The quality of a decision is largely dependent on the accuracy and relevance of the information on which it is based – as well as being free from subjective bias in reflecting the true needs. When poor quality or biased evidence is used for decision making, the proposed alternative will risk producing an ineffective or adverse outcome. Standards, such as ISO 9001 on quality management and ISO 16355 on QFD, therefore calls for factual decision information. Continue reading “Evidence-based decision making”

Engineering vs Art

Product design is about applying engineering and arts in creating or improving function, usability, ergonomics or aesthetics, to make products more marketable or their production more efficient. For purpose of illustrating the engineering and art domains’ contributions to the customer perceived value, we are for a moment taking liberty in adapting Kano’s work into a value diagram containing a Maslow self-actualisation need. It serves to illustrate relativity between engineering and arts. Continue reading “Engineering vs Art”

How poor development happens?

When products and services do not fully meet customer, market or an organisation’s own expectations, it is typically because of some insufficiency or oversight in the designer’s thought-process. Fixing product specification problems too often become a post-launch activity, where with benefit of hindsight the designers can be heard saying: “Why didn’t we think about this earlier; it is so obvious and could so easily have been designed in from the very beginning”? Continue reading “How poor development happens?”


Gemba is a Japanese term, which in the QFD Voice of Customer context means to visit the actual place where the product will be used. The acclaim is that the first-hand experience of customer needs and wants in the use journey, when combined with the product designer’s technical skills and knowledge, represents an opportunity for creating value beyond what could otherwise be achieved. Continue reading “Gemba”

How do ideas come about?

Before a new original idea is discovered it can be thought of as in fact being in existence already, just that it exists within a yet unknown ‘void’ in solution space where it has not yet been found, studied and defined. The same solution space also has defined products containing known developed ideas, such as the labels ‘A’ and ‘B’ on our pathway here, where the voids co-exist alongside these established products. A newly discovered, previously unknown, idea goes through a development pathway, before it is released back into solution space as a known idea. Continue reading “How do ideas come about?”

Translation table

There is often more than one way of addressing an input requirement. In order to attain competitiveness, it is important to identify and develop the one with most advantages over the others. The human mind in disposed to draw assumptions from past experience and to copy the behaviour of others. In some way, we are thereby naturally predisposed to want and produce stereotypical solutions. Continue reading “Translation table”

Balanced translation

The translation of ‘whats’ into ‘hows’ is influential on the House of Quality algorithmic transfer function. In a large matrix with many-to-many relationships, which is not uncommon, there is a degree of tolerance to imprecision when scoring the ‘whats’ and ‘hows’ interactions [1]. The effect can potentially mask flaws in the requirements translation. We must therefore Continue reading “Balanced translation”

4-phase QFD model (part 1 of 3)

Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a design approach that maintains in focus what is most important to customers and stakeholders, thereby assuring quality and reducing project time. We can apply QFD to the development of products, parts, materials, services, events, software and websites – effectively any type of development that has a definable customer.

In this post I will explain why I believe the established QFD models are good, but not yet perfect. Continue reading “4-phase QFD model (part 1 of 3)”