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1. DESIGNER AND DESIGN TEAMS by Dr. Philip Datseris , Professor Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI, USA July 2013. Information Processing. 2.

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Information processing


DESIGNER AND DESIGN TEAMS byDr. Philip Datseris, ProfessorDepartment of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems EngineeringUniversity of Rhode IslandKingston, RI, USAJuly 2013

Information processing

Information Processing


The study of human problem solving abilities is the province of the field of cognitive psychology

  • General Knowledge - Information that most people know from basic schooling or life experience

  • Domain-Specific Knowledge - Comes from study and experience in the field. One takes about 10 years to gain sufficient specific knowledge to be considered expert

  • Procedural Knowledge - Knowledge of what to do next; gained through experience

Details on slide 2


2 A


Bolt – Yield??

General design procedure



  • Decompose problem along technical lines-mechanical, electrical/electronic, software, hardware, etc. and hire people in each area

    2. Decompose problem, if possible, into manageable chunks- Exoskeleton example – simulate motion of complete system, including human leg, but only for one degree-of-freedom (DOF) system-motion only below the knee and nothing else!!!!

Advantages in decomposing the problem



  • The team is happy because the task is manageable and they can see results

  • The manager can reach a decision to either end the project or hire additional people where expertise is lacking early on the project before much money and time are used up

  • On the exoskeleton project-if the team cannot finish the one DOF system in a reasonable time, major decisions will be made

A design paradox the more you learn the less freedom you have to use what you know


A DESIGN PARADOX: The more you learn the less freedom you have to use what you know

Knowledge about the design problem

Line fallout at xerox corporation



In 1981, Xerox Corp. started using methods outlined here

Design methodology



1. Iteration is a necessary part of the design process

2. There is no guarantee that long term memory will have a solution

3. Problems have often missing or incomplete information

4. Each designer will have a different understanding of the problem-reach consensus very early on a good solution - NOT the perfect solution

Slide 7 detail 1

7 A








Slide 7 detail 2


7 B


Many early design changes require more engineering time but few changes in production lines

An early design change that costs $1,000 in engineering time

can cost $10,000 later in refinements

and over $1M!! in tooling, sales, and goodwill expenses

Design references



  • Design Handbooks

  • Thomas Register – Gold mine of ideas-

  • US patents-

  • European and foreign patents-

  • Soviet theory of inventive machines –

  • MIT Nam Suh –

Slide 8 details 1

Slide 8-Details-1

8 A

TRIZ-Theory of inventive machines

  • GenrikhAltshuller reviewed 400,000 patents – he observed similar patterns in solving problems in totally different industries

  • Principle of contradiction – find the major contradiction that makes the problem hard

  • Example of a contradiction-The part gets stronger (good) but the weight increases (bad)

  • Solve the hardest problem first –if this fails STOP

Slide 8 details 2

8 B

Slide 8-Details-2

TRIZ-Theory of inventive machines

Triz established forty (40) Principles to solve a problem

Principle 1.Segmentation

A. Divide an object into independent parts

B. Make an object sectional

C. Increase degree of an object’s segmentation

Example:Suspension-use two shock absorbers in-line; the soft one takes the small bumps and when fully compressed, the stiffer one takes the big bumps

Slide 8 details 3

Slide 8-Details-3


TRIZ-Theory of inventive machines

Triz established forty (40) Principles to solve a problem

Principle 10.Prior action

A. Carry out the required action in advance

B. Arrange objects so that they can go into action without time loss waiting for action

Example:Suspension-this leads to the idea of an active suspension where the motion is sensed and some form of control system changes suspension stiffness and damping-has been invented by BOSE Corp.

Slide 8 details 4

Slide 8-Details-4

8 D




Slide 8 details 5

Slide 8-Details-5

8 E

TRIZ-Theory of inventive machines

Triz established forty (40) Principles to solve a problem

Principle 17.Moving to a new dimension

  • Remove problems in moving an object in a line by two-dimensional movement (along a plane)

    B. – D – not important in suspension

    Example:Suspension-This leads to the idea of using a linkage-mechanism- to get a more complex motion than what can be obtained with a simple swing arm

Slide 8 details 6

8 F

Slide 8-Details-6

Axiomatic design by Nam Suh of MIT- based on the relationship between four (4) design domains: customer, function, physical, and process

A. Two Axioms

B. Thirty (30) Corollaries and Theorems that

support the axioms

Slide 8 details 7

Slide 8-Details-7

8 G

Axiomatic design by Nam Suh of MIT

Axiom 1 – Independence Axiom – Maintain the independence of functional requirements

This means that, ideally, a change in a specific design parameter should have an effect only on a single function – impossible but one can try

Axiom 2 - Minimize the information

content of the design

This means that the simplest design has the highest probability of success and is the best alternative – not always true-violates Principle 17 of TRIZ

Mental processing problem solving behavior


Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior

  • Problem-solving style; INTROVERT OR EXTROVERT – a person sometimes switches

  • Focus on Facts vs. Possibilities; REALISTIC OR DREAMER - a person sometimes switches

  • Objective vs. Subjective approaches

  • Decisive vs. Flexible perspectives

There are four (4) personal problem-solving dimensions

Mental processing problem solving behavior1

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Problem -Solving Style

Characterized by differences between


75% of Americans are extroverts

48% of engineering students are extroverts

48% of CEOs are extroverts

Mental processing problem solving behavior2

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Problem -Solving Style: Extrovert

  • Extroverts need to allow others time to think (not necessary to fill every pause with words)

  • Extroverts need to practice listening to others’ ideas and suggestions. BRAINSTORMING.

  • Extroverts must be encouraged to recap to make sure they take into account other’s contributions

  • Extroverts must realize that silence by introverts does not always mean agreement

Mental processing problem solving behavior3


Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior

Problem -Solving Style: Introvert

  • Introverts must be encouraged to share more than their final response-explain how they think

  • Enable introverts to have equal say in the selection of ideas and plans – this means that introverts’ ideas must have equal weight

  • Encourage introverts to always signal their dissent-introverts must speak out if the disagree

  • Encourage introverts to restate their ideas. This also forces extroverts to listen

  • Introverts to push extroverts for more clarity/meaning

Mental processing problem solving behavior4

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Facts vs. Possibilities

Facts people are literal, practical, realistic

Possibilities people like concepts, theories, look for relationships

Most cause of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and team problems

75% of Americans are fact-oriented

34% of engineering students are fact-oriented

66% of CEOs are fact-oriented

Mental processing problem solving behavior5

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Facts vs. Possibilities: Facts

  • Encourage fact-oriented team members to give way to their imagination. BRAINSTORMING- wild ideas can lead to good ideas

  • Encourage fact-oriented team members to set goals rather than dive right into the problem

Mental processing problem solving behavior6

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Facts vs. Possibilities: Possibilities

  • Encourage possibility-oriented team members to deal with details

  • Force possibility-oriented team members to be specific and avoid generalities

  • Remind possibility-oriented team members to stick to the issues

Mental processing problem solving behavior7


Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior

Objectivity vs. Subjectivity

Objective people are logical, detached, analytical

Subjective people make decisions based upon interpersonal involvement and circumstances

Greatest number of design decision require some level of subjective evaluations

51% of Americans are objective

68% of engineering students are objective

95% of CEOs are objective

Mental processing problem solving behavior8

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Objectivity vs. Subjectivity: Objectivity

  • Encourage objective decision makers not to discard other team members’ “gut feelings”

  • Help objective decision makers understand that how the team functions is as important as what is accomplished

  • Remind objective decision makers that not everyone likes to discuss a topic just for the sake of argument

  • Encourage objective decision makers to sometime express how they feel about an outcome

Mental processing problem solving behavior9

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Objectivity vs. Subjectivity: Subjectivity

  • Help subjective decision maker realize that it is acceptable to disagree and argue

  • Reassure subjective decision makers that while harmony is important, not every resolved issue will satisfy everyone even if a consensus is reached

  • Reinforce to subjective decision makers that discussions about ideas are not personal attacks

Mental processing problem solving behavior10

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Decisiveness vs. Flexibility

Decisive people are ordered, scheduled, controlled, and deliberate

Flexible people are adaptive, spontaneous, and have a tendency to procrastinate

50% of Americans are decisive

64% of engineering students are decisive

88% of CEOs are decisive

Mental processing problem solving behavior11

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Decisiveness vs. Flexibility: Decisiveness

  • Ask decisive people questions about their decision process

  • Let decisive people organize data collection and review process

  • Use techniques such as brainstorming to suppress judgement. Do not settle on the first good idea

  • Remind decisive people that they are not always right

Mental processing problem solving behavior12

Mental Processing: Problem-Solving Behavior


Decisiveness vs. Flexibility: Flexibility

  • Give flexible decision makers plans in advance

  • Acknowledge the flexible decision maker’s contribution as a step toward moving to closure

  • Set clear decision deadline in advance

  • Get feedback from flexible decision makers to enable them to think about the direction of their thoughts

  • Encourage flexible decision makers to settle on something and live with it

Characteristics of a creative designer

Characteristics of a Creative Designer


  • It must solve the problem

  • It must be original

A creative solution must meet two (2) criteria

Characteristics of a creative designer1

Characteristics of a Creative Designer



There appears to be little correlation between creativity and intelligence

1. Some engineers may be brilliant at complex analysis but are not capable of coming up with a new concept no matter how hard they try!!

2. There is a significant amount of research to understand creativity but it’s still not well understood

Characteristics of a creative designer2

Characteristics of a Creative Designer


Visualization Ability

  • Creative engineers have good ability to visualize, to generate and manipulate visual images in their heads

  • They use sketches as an external extension of their short-term memory

  • There is little difference in individuals in the ability of visualize very simple images

  • However, the ability to manipulate complex images of mechanical devices can be improved in practice

Characteristics of a creative designer3

Characteristics of a Creative Designer



  • Designers start with what they know and modify it to solve the specific of the problem posed to them

  • At every step, the process involves small movements away from the known, even though the latter are anchored in past experiences

  • The designer must also be able to evaluate the viability of ideas

  • Ideas that are original but un-workable are therefore NOT creative

Characteristics of a creative designer4

Characteristics of a Creative Designer


  • Creative designers have the ability to decompose and manipulate stored knowledge

  • This attribute strengthens with exercise

Partial Solution Manipulation

Characteristics of a creative designer5

Characteristics of a Creative Designer


Risk Taking

  • Fear of making a mistake is characteristic of non-creative individuals

  • THOMAS EDISON tried hundreds of different lightbulb designs before he discovered the carbon filament

  • Even GOD failed in his first attempt when he designed and created the man; he succeeded in his second design and created a much better product-the woman!!

Characteristics of a creative designer6

Characteristics of a Creative Designer


  • Creative people tend to be non-conformists

  • Constructive nonconformists take a stand because they think they are right-GOOD

  • Obstructive nonconformists take a stand just to have an opposite view-BAD


Characteristics of a creative designer7

Characteristics of a Creative Designer



Creative designers have more than one approach to problem solving

Characteristics of a creative designer8

Characteristics of a Creative Designer



Work environments that encourage risk taking, nonconformity, new ideas, thus promote creativity

Characteristics of a creative designer9

Characteristics of a Creative Designer



Creativity can improve with practice

Engineering design teams


Engineering Design Teams

The Boeing 747 has 5 million components and required 10 thousand person years of design, thus cannot be solved by a single designer

Engineering design teams1

Engineering Design Teams



A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, common performance goals, and a common approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable

Engineering design teams team goals

Engineering Design Teams: Team Goals


  • Team members must learn to collaborate

  • Teams are generally empowered to make decisions and must compromiseto reach them

  • Developing decisions by consensus rather than by authority lead to more robust decisions

Engineering design teams team goals1

Engineering Design Teams: Team Goals


  • Team members must learn to establish communication-proper communication!!

  • Team members must have a shared vision, which requires a rich understanding of the problem

  • It is important that team members and management be committed to the good of the team

Slide 35 detail 1


35 A

Proper Communication

Critique a member’s work but be NICE!!! His work is his “baby.” You never tell parents that their baby is UGLY!!

Slide 35 detail 2


35 B

Shared Vision

  • All team members must be immersed in the project

  • Team members must dream about the project every night!!

Slide 35 detail 3


35 C

Good of the Team

Healthy social processes within team members are as important for success, as technical and cognitive processes

Slide 35 detail 4 tough decisions dell


35 D

DELL COMPUTERS – Reference-“Direct from Dell”, by Michael Dell:

Dell Corporation almost went bankrupt when sales reached $1B.-Solution implemented by outside consultants – fire all friends and relatives that built Dell and hire top executives from General Electric Corporation

Slide 35 detail 5 deadline leads to twitter


35 E

Twitter was “born” from Odeo, Inc., a software company, South Park, San Francisco, California

Odeo Inc. was facing tremendous competition from Apple and the board was not feeling optimistic-a deadline was given.

“Rebooting” or reinventing the company started with a daylong brainstorming session where they broke up into teams to talk about their best ideas

Engineering design teams team roles

Engineering Design Teams: Team Roles


  • Organizer: Team member who is mature, confident, trusting. Must be good at clarifying goals, promoting decision making, but not necessarily creative or clever

  • Creator: Imaginative. Sometimes more prone to work on possibilities than facts

  • Gathereror resource-investigator: Good at exploring opportunities and developing contacts

  • Motivator or shaper: Dynamic, outgoing, assertive. Makes things happen by finding ways around obstacles. Impatient with vagueness. Logical and objective

Engineering design teams team roles1

Engineering Design Teams: Team Roles


  • Evaluator: Good at seeing the big picture and judging outcomes accurately. Not necessarily an inspirational leader, but is intelligent and shrewd

  • Team worker: Consensus builder. Tries to avoid frictions. Subjective decision maker

  • Solver: Turns ideas into practical action and is disciplined, reliable, and efficient

  • Completer-finisher or pusher: Conscientious, detailed-oriented and delivers results on time

Engineering design teams building team performance

Engineering Design Teams: BuildingTeam Performance


  • Keep team Productive: Urgency and Direction

    • All members must understand the purpose

    • Members must feel excited

    • Goals must be clear, simple, measurable

    • Goals must be realistic

    • Team approach must be clear

Slide 38 detail 1

Slide 38-Detail-1

38 A

Keep Team Productive: Urgency and Direction

Members must feel excited

There are many ways to do this with

Awards – including cash awards


Promotion, etc.

But an important way that’s used in the US is $$$

Extra pay for extra work - OVERTIME

Slide 38 detail 2 keep team productive urgency and direction members must feel excited

38 B

Slide 38-Detail-2Keep Team Productive: Urgency and DirectionMembers must feel excited


To save time, “Rainy Day Time”, just in case the project encounters delays

This is a similar idea to the “Rainy Day Fund” - companies in the US save for bad times

Engineering design teams building team performance1

Engineering Design Teams: BuildingTeam Performance


  • Select team members on the Basis of Skills in both Primary and Secondary Roles

  • Establish Clear Rules of Behavior

  • Set and Seize upon a few Immediate Performance-Oriented Goals and Tasks

  • Spend Time Together

  • Develop Common Understanding

Slide 39 detail


39 A

Spend Time Together – for Peak Team Performance


The US Government spent $100M on a study to find out why some groups of students perform better than others. Secret agents were sent to many top universities mostly in California-Stanford, Berkeley, etc.-Conclusion of the study-students formed SMALL GROUPS, 4 or 5, where they worked on Mathematics and Physics problems; in fact, they did that all the time, even during breakfast, lunch and dinner!!!

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