Empirical evaluation of flexible design concept generation procedures: A study in emergency services

DS 75-7: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13), Design for Harmonies, Vol.7: Human Behaviour in Design, Seoul, Korea, 19-22.08.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Cardin, Michel-Alexandre; Ka-Ho Yue, Howard; Jiang, Yixin; Deng, Yinghan; Santhanakrishnan, Deepak
Series: ICED
Institution: Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, National University of Singapore
Page(s): 001-010
ISBN: 978-1-904670-50-6
ISSN:  2220-4334


This paper presents the results of an empirical study of concept generation procedures enabling flexibility in engineering systems design. Evaluation of two educational training procedures (analogies vs. explicit) and two ideation procedures (free undirected brainstorming vs. prompting) was done. The procedures aim to improve quantitative lifecycle performance, while providing users with satisfaction with the process. Controlled experiments involved ninety participants working on a design problem in emergency services. Results suggest that combining explicit training on flexibility and free undirected brainstorming was best to improve lifecycle performance, measured as average response time and net present cost of infrastructure. No statistically significant effect was measured when comparing procedures against one another based on lifecycle performance, suggesting that any procedure could be used. Analogies combined with free undirected brainstorming led to better process satisfaction for users. The results give insights on the true effects of concept generation procedures, considering quantitative performance impacts, as well as qualitative user impressions.

Keywords: Collaborative design, creativity, design methods, flexibility in engineering design, real options


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