Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Compatibility before completeness - Identifying intrinsic conflicts in concept decision making for technical systems
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8790-3859
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4488-1028
2012 (English)In: Technovation, ISSN 0166-4972, Vol. 32, no 2, 79-89 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper investigates the practice of concept decision-making, i.e. making decisions on technical solutions in early product development stages. An empirical study was conducted in a Swedish automotive company, using a qualitative approach. The study reveals that a major challenge in concept decision-making is to achieve compatibility between systems in the product before the system solutions are completely developed. Managers and product developers need to know that conceptual solutions are good enough to progress into detailed development without performing detailed analysis. In the concept-decision process a number of intrinsic conflicts that these actors have to address are identified: understanding of the overall development process as iterative or stepwise; developing satisfying or optimized solutions; using defined or interpreted criteria when comparing solutions; and composing a complete car from different systems solutions, prioritizing project targets or long-term system targets. Consequences of these intrinsic conflicts, omnipresent in the process, are characterized and discussed. The authors suggest a number of means to address these intrinsic conflicts, such as enhancing actors' awareness of psychological biases. The authors also suggest to have clear and well-communicated visions regarding both product and development process, in order to guide individuals' daily judgments and trade-offs that have to be made.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 32, no 2, 79-89 p.
Keyword [en]
concept decisions, product development, decision-making, case study
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-43401DOI: 10.1016/j.technovation.2011.10.005ISI: 000328872000001ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84855879131OAI: diva2:448223

QC 20120618

Available from: 2011-10-14 Created: 2011-10-14 Last updated: 2014-10-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Managing concept decision making in product development practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing concept decision making in product development practice
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Making concept decisions is a crucial activity for product-developing companies since these decisions have high impact on the subsequent development and launch of the product. Consequences of unsuccessful concept decisions can be severe, e.g. missing out on business opportunities or spending money on rework. This thesis investigates concept decision making in product development practice and contributes by enhancing the understanding of what is actually happening, the difficulties experienced in the process, and how to manage and improve concept decision making. Such enhanced understanding should serve as a basis when support methods for concept decision making are developed. In-depth studies have been conducted in a Swedish automotive company, focusing on the technical system level of the product.

The concept decision process was found to be a web of interconnected activities, embedded in the concept development process, and with several actors on different hierarchical levels. An overarching challenge identified in concept decision making was to achieve compatibility before completeness, meaning that compatibility between product systems must be met before the system solutions are completely developed. In addition, a number of conflicts intrinsic in the process were revealed, pointing to underlying causes of the difficulties in managing concept decision making. These conflicts are omnipresent due to the product and organizational complexity and have to be handled by the product developers in their daily work.

The thesis identifies key elements for improving an organization’s concept decision making: Create meta-knowledge and awareness regarding what influences the process and the actors in the process since there is a general lack of knowledge regarding one’s own and the organization’s decision-making processes; Ask questions to ensure that aspects, previously neglected, are considered; Provide visualizations to enhance understanding of both process and solutions; Provide vision as guidance in everyday decision making and trade-offs; and Ensure reflections since there is a need for actors in the process to reflect on the own decision-making process.

In conclusion, a model to improve the concept decision making in practice is proposed. The model includes a set of proposed activities that are designed to address the previously identified challenges, and was developed in collaboration between researchers and practitioners.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2011. x, 84 p.
Trita-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2011:14
concept decision, decision making, product development, industrial practice
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-43396 (URN)978-91-7501-138-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-11-11, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
QC 20111019Available from: 2011-10-19 Created: 2011-10-14 Last updated: 2011-11-22Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full textScopus

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Kihlander, IngridRitzén, Sofia
By organisation
Integrated Product Development
In the same journal
Mechanical Engineering

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 158 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link