EXPLORING PROBLEM DECOMPOSITION IN DESIGN TEAM DISCUSSIONS
Editor: Christian Weber, Stephan Husung, Gaetano Cascini, Marco Cantamessa, Dorian Marjanovic, Monica Bordegoni
Author: Tobias, Connor; Herrmann, Jeffrey W.; Gralla, Erica
Institution: 1: University of Maryland, United States of America; 2: George Washington University, United States of America
Section: Human Behaviour in Design, Design Education
When faced with the problem of designing a complex system, a design team must make many decisions. Because many design problems are too difficult to solve all at once, the team will decompose the design problem into more manageable subproblems. Although studies of individual designers have shown that explicit decomposition is seldom used, we conducted a pilot study to determine whether, because they need to communicate about their design decision making activities, design teams explicitly decompose their work. This paper describes the results of our study, in which we observed four teams of professional engineers who redesigned a manufacturing facility and analyzed their decision-making processes. The goal of the study was to gain insights into whether and when teams select a decomposition of the problem and whether they utilize explicit or implicit decomposition. The results show that the teams did discuss their decompositions, but not every subproblem was discussed, and they did not decompose the entire problem upfront. Future research will determine if other teams behave similarly and will investigate how teams determine which subproblem to solve next in the design process.