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Author: Huet, Gregory
Supervisor: Culley, Steve; McMahon, Chris; Fortin, Clément
Institution: University of Bath, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Engineering design reviews are fundamental elements of an evaluation and control process and take place at various stages of the product development process. However, most companies also acknowledge that these meetings are opportunities for all the parties involved to share information about the product and related engineering processes. For product development teams, the knowledge transfer processes that take place during a design review are not as secondary as they may seem; key design decisions, design experiences and associated rationale are made explicit.
Useful work has been carried out on the design review process, but little has been said about the detail of the activity itself. Understanding the mechanisms of a meeting and its working environment is critical to building an effective knowledge-oriented recording strategy. To this effect, an extensive research programme based on case studies in the aerospace engineering domain has been carried out. The study of the literature has generated a unifying description of the constitutive elements of design meetings in general, along with a generic model of the information processes that occur during design reviews. The work reported in this thesis then focuses on a set of tools and methods developed to characterise and analyse in depth the transactions observed during the case studies, referred to as the Design Transaction Monitoring (DTM) case studies. The first methodology developed – the Transcript Coding Scheme – uses an intelligent segmentation of meeting discourse transcriptions. To bypass the time consuming transcribing operation, a different approach was also adopted whereby a meeting observer uses a specially designed Meeting Capture Template to record the important information elements as the meeting takes place. The interpretation of the results in terms of decisions, actions, rationale, and lessons learnt is based on a third methodology: the Information Mapping Technique.
Further investigations into minute taking practices in the aerospace industry, based on a study of examples of design review minutes and a survey to evaluate their role in engineering activities, clearly indicate that meeting minutes must be “action driven” in order to be productive. The author has therefore elaborated an action-oriented strategy to improve the capture of key knowledge elements from design reviews. This strategy and the set of analytical tools presented in this dissertation have fostered practical guidelines, templates, and conceptual software requirements for the knowledge intensive capture of design review contents.