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  1. Feedback on Learning Diary 5 ME 546 - Designing Product Families - IE 546 Timothy W. Simpson Professor of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering and Engineering Design The Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 16802 USA phone: (814) 863-7136 email: PENNSTATE © T. W. SIMPSON

  2. Diary 1 (Avg = 2.51) Diary 2 (Avg = 3.13) Diary 3 (Avg = 3.56) Diary 4 (Avg = 3.44) Diary 5 (Avg = 3.52) Grading Histogram 25 20 15 # Responses 10 5 0 1 2 3 4 5 Grade

  3. A Matrix Approach to Group Discussion • The discussion style was quite effective and comprehensive. At the first discussion, grouping with different roles like marketing, engineering, manufacturing, sales & distribution, service and customers produced temporary role professionals for each field. … At the second discussion, re-grouping for different industries with various professionals effectively made us share almost all the kind of opinions in different role groups in short period of time. This kind of approach looked analogous to a functional structure in the company for different projects. It was favored by its effectiveness and flexibility even if there are some problems of scheduling, work load distribution, discontinuity in specific major research, etc…. it showed positive effects only and it was quite impressive. I would like to use this kind of discussion approach in the future when I am hosting a meeting. During a couple of months I found myself feel familiar with these kind of class activities and it will be one of valuable asset in my future study.

  4. Restructuring the Commonality Discussion • The way it was structured, and its impact on knowledge: • Perhaps a better way to structure it:

  5. Commonality and McDonalds • …I was somewhat oblivious to the disadvantages of commonality until we discussed them in groups today in class. Though it may seem hard to believe, I was even more oblivious to the fact that companies would actually want to make distinctions within their companies because I was so focused on the benefits of commonality. After discussing the possible distinctions a fast food chain would want to make, I feel I have a better understanding of the commonality concept. • Having worked at a McDonalds restaurant for three separate summers, I fully understand the benefits of commonality within a fast food chain. For example, the employees were able to make products quickly because all products utilized a similar assembly process, and customers appreciated being able to walk into a restaurant already knowing what they wanted to order thanks to the commonality between all McDonalds’ menus. However, the similarities within the assembly process could only be taken so far. In order to keep customers coming back to the restaurant, McDonalds constantly had to add new menu items with new assembly processes. The employees very much disliked the addition of new menu items because it meant that they had to learn a new, often time-consuming, assembly process. This reveals a distinction between the groupings we were using in class today. In class, we determined areas in which companies would want commonalities and areas in which they would want distinctions. However, my experience has shown that commonalities and distinctions must exist in all aspects of a company to varying degrees, and a company’s success often depends on where it establishes the fine line between commonalities and distinctions. If McDonalds never introduced new menu items, the employees would eventually be able to produce all menu items at lightning quick speeds, but the customers would become bored with the selection. On the other hand, if new menu items came out every week, the customers would surely be thrilled with the selection, but they would also quickly become irritated with long wait times as employees struggled to keep up with new assembly processes.

  6. Commonality in Education • During today’s class, suddenly an interesting and funny idea flitted through my mind. I was wondering if the commonality concept could be applied to our class education and what kind of effect it have in our education. Then, I was determined to try to conduct this application in this learning diary. Before specific application, above all I had to draw out commonality from my classmates. As a result, I could find four general commonalities; (1) We got together under the same purpose to pursue the knowledge about product family. (2) Every student in this class had similar educational level(all of us were graduate students of the Penn State). (3) Including me, most of students are a similar age group from early 20s to middle 30s. (4) We were engineering students (we enjoy quantitative analysis).

  7. Commonality in Education (cont.) • Finally, to find how commonality and distinctiveness have relationship with education methods, I try to match them with a variety of education methods which are served from this class in two large concepts such as top-down and bottom-up. By using commonality and difference introduced from former paragraphs, I composed matching table according to several lecture methods which were actually conducted in the product family class, and identified the education effect between them as shown in Table 2 (All of results were evaluated subjectively). As a result, I could find which metric of commonality and difference have influence to which lecture style.

  8. Learning Diaries to Optimize Education? • This is the fifth learning diary. Most likely, I have to admit by myself that I have written the learning diary to get the grade. If I put it bluntly, I assume that most of students would be in the same boat. However, right now, I came to think of the purpose of writing a learning dairy every two weeks. It is my conclusion to try to figure out the best efficient way of learning how to design product families. I do believe that studying product family design would be a little bit broad and challenging. It is because that there is no standard solution and it would be very various based on which industry it is. Besides, if we would like to focus on one specific example, there would be lack of resources and maybe one semester would not be enough. Because of those constraints, we have to write the learning diary to find out the best way to learn. • In the previous semester, I took the IE505 Linear programming. In that class, the most important theory is Simplex Algorithm, which is about searching for an optimal solution through moving around the extreme points within given constraints. If we consider each learning dairy as one extreme point, we are searching for the most efficient way through writing the learning dairy within constraints of studying product family design: • Maximize learning product family design • Subject to Broadness of topics, lack of resources, and time shortage As Simplex Algorithm is the most widely used one to get an optimal solution in linear programming, Learning diary is the best way to find out an optimal way to study product family design.

  9. Thinking Global: A “Mind Map” for the Course