Why are we always late?

Years back I managed a smaller engineering product design team, which was 1 of 4 global teams totalling some 260 development engineers. Our team was assigned a variety of jobs, ranging from complete products to minor sub-components design. The global master projects office maintained a browser-based reporting and visual progress tracking system, called pilot charts. Our projects usually progressed well, initially, but invariably tended to fall behind in the later stages of the allocated time plan. I regularly had to make uncomfortable reports to the global group’s master planner.

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Affordance and Design

Spending 2 years using the train door on the left, it became an unconscious routine procedure for me to get off at the intended stop. It never failed. Then on my first day visiting a new client, I travelled on a different line by the train in the middle. Guess what happened – I failed to open the door and embarrassingly missed my stop! Thanks to having read Don Norman’s book ‘The Design of Everyday Things’ I do not blame myself as being the only idiot here. Now this week, on yet another rail line, I came across the door control design on the right.

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The problem with standards

A standard defines a set of requirements or an acceptable level of attainment; or it can be a specification that assures compatibility between interfacing systems. The extent of recognition of a standard varies from International, adopted across the world, to independent norms that are subscribed to by members of an association or particular industry.

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Management system objectives and planning

Management system standards – such as ISO 9001 and others titled ISO xx001 – advise that the purposeful organisation should establish and maintain realistic objectives; and it should then plan its systems and operations to meet these objectives. The standards do not prescribe how to define this as a process. I find it helpful to picture the organisation as a thinking Pacman, munching its way through ‘objectives-nourishing’ opportunities – while it avoids swallowing any detracting risks. Continue reading “Management system objectives and planning”

Stretch vs cautious targets

As rule of thumb, for most systems, there is nearly always 30% improvement to be foreseeably gained, under ideal perfect conditions. And, if the 30% where to be realised then there is nearly always a further 30% improvement to be found in the remainder and so on. The trouble is that we rarely operate under ideal conditions and with perfect foresight. There are invariably constraints on us, which make it practically impossible to straightforwardly see and reach the available 30%. Although some of these constraints may be deemed to be outside our control, most tend in fact to be more within our control that we immediately thinks – if we just we are brave enough to accept the fact.

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Medical hearables for hearing loss

There are good reasons for wanting to alleviate middle-age hearing loss (HL):

    • People with untreated HL are twice as likely to feel left behind in job and salary prospects[1a].
    • People with untreated HL are 2.5 times more likely to suffer major depression disorders[1b].
    • Untreated middle-age HL is a factor that contributes 9% of dementia[2].
    • Untreated HL costs the UK £25.5 billion (US$32 billion) each year[3].
    • Untreated HL costs the world community at least US$750 billion each year[4].

Yet, most people with HL do not get hearing help. Here is why.

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Emergency Ventilators

Respiratory care ventilator for pandemic emergencies, such as the COVID-19 Coronavirus. The concept is low cost and mass-producible from off-the-shelf components that are readily available at national levels. The Ennomotive Open Innovation Hub for Engineering has developed the concept into a clinically effective lung Protective Volume Control SIMV ventilator. Ennomotive can provide interested producers with the final documentation and conformity assessments to medical device standards, or they can have the ventilator produced. The final OxyVita ventilator won the prestigious prize for best initiative in Health Technology 2020, awarded by the Spanish minister of health.

The individual device has a component cost of just £400 (GBP), or Euro460 or US$500. It can be produced for less than Euro1,000. Continue reading “Emergency Ventilators”

Are we there yet?

The aim of NPD project management is to develop the product within time and budget constraints, while also assuring that the design work is complete. There are risks from a NPD team not recognising an over- or under-design. Releasing a new product late and over budget, due to a tendency of making endless low value-adding refinements to the design, is practically just as bad a releasing a sub-standard design too early. Continue reading “Are we there yet?”