Identifying product development crises: The potential of adaptive heuristics

DS 87-2 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 2: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Muenzberg, Christopher; Stingl, Verena; Geraldi, Joana; Oehmen, Josef
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Technical University of Munich, Germany; 2: Technical University of Denmark, Denmark
Section: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management
Page(s): 189-198
ISBN: 978-1-904670-90-2
ISSN: 2220-4342


This paper introduces adaptive heuristics as a tool to identify crises in design projects and highlights potential applications of these heuristics as decision support tool for crisis identification. Crises may emerge slowly or suddenly, and often have ambiguous signals. Thus the identification of a project crisis is often difficult. Yet, to allow fast crisis response, timely identification is critical for successful crisis management. Adaptive heuristics are successful judgement strategies when limited and ambiguous information is available. This article presents a theoretical proposition for the application of heuristics in design sciences. The paper compares crises to 'business as usual', and presents sixteen indicators for emerging crises in product development. These indicators are suggested as cues for adaptive heuristics. Specifically three heuristics are found to be well suited to support design practitioners to make robust inferences about the situation: 1. One-single-cue, 2. Fast-and-Frugal-Trees, and 3. Tallying. The paper presents application scenarios for these three heuristics and provides an outlook on further research on adaptive heuristics in design sciences.

Keywords: Decision making, Project management, Uncertainty, Crisis, Adaptive heuristics

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