Product evolution diagram; a systematic approach used in evolutionary product development

DS 76: Proceedings of E&PDE 2013, the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Dublin, Ireland, 05-06.09.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Ehlhardt, Huub
Series: E&PDE
Institution: University of Twente, The Netherlands
Section: Design Methodology
Page(s): 008-013
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


Students of Industrial Design Engineering are offered a course in Evolutionary Product Development (EPD) that provides design guidelines for a low-risk strategy in new product development. This design approach is based on the observation that products typically go through a series of phases after their initial introduction onto the market. When applying the EPD method, students have to analyse the development history of a product. It was observed that students have a difficulty describing the complexity of the development history of products. In addition, the course lacked embedding in prevailing theories from the field of Innovation Studies. Using analytical concepts from Innovation Studies, the Product Evolution Diagram (PED) has been proposed as a systematic approach for analysing the development history of product families. This method uses two elements. First, a tree diagram similar to the family tree known from biology is used to map a product’s development path. Second, a so-called PEST diagram is used to map the influences from the environment or ecosystem that affected the evolving product. A timeline reference connects the evolving artefact with the ecosystem. PED is an analytical concept complementary to the product phases theory that is used as a guideline in new product development. Results from the course revealed that the PED diagram is a valuable instrument as it helps to develop a comprehensive view of the evolutionary history of products.

Keywords: Design method, innovation, evolution, path dependence, product family tree


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