The Application of Axiomatic Design to the Design of the Product Development Organization

Abstract

The following application of Axiomatic Design strives to provide a framework for the design of the organization of product development. It follows current research to expand the current theory of Axiomatic Design to complex systems, like software design [Suh (1999)] or the design of manufacturing system [Suh/Cochran/Lima (1998)], to name a few. The development of new products has always been an essential challenge as it reflects not only the evolution of the needs and wants of the customers, but also the change of the entire corporate environment and of the company itself. Implications deriving from increased competition, more fragmented and demanding markets and an acceleration of technology change have alternated the approach towards designing and managing the product development function within a corporate entity [Clark/Fujimoto (1991)]. Whereas the initial intention of Axiomatic Design is to provide a general basis for the design process, the Product Development System Decomposition (PDS) strives to model the product development organization as a whole, consisting of individual information processes and overall organizational functionality and characteristics. However, the decomposition requires to clarify the context and linkage of the PDS within the corporate system. In alignment to Axiomatic Design, the PDS is derived from top-level functional requirements (FRs) and design parameters (DPs), which reflect long-term decisions linked to corporate strategy and corporate system design. Due to the inconsistencies of current definitions it in addition appears necessary to redefine the scope and content of product development. The major FRs for the PDS are then linked to fundamental tasks within organizational theory, e.g. the provision of a sufficient level of functional expertise by differentiation and the continuing growth in productivity by aligning and adjusting the individual design activities by integration [Lawrence/Lorsch (1967), Sobek (1997)]. Beyond such high-level FRs the PDS is decomposed to a sufficient level which is necessary for a direct application and the continuous control of the product development system.

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