The Open UniversitySkip to content

Externalising tacit overview knowledge: A model-based approach to supporting design teams

Flanagan, Tomas; Eckert, Claudia and Clarkson, P. John (2007). Externalising tacit overview knowledge: A model-based approach to supporting design teams. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing, 21(3) pp. 227–242.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (693kB)
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Successful realization of large-scale product development programs is challenging because of complex product and process dependencies and complicated team interactions. Proficient teamwork is underpinned by knowledge of the manner in which tasks performed by different design participants fit together to create an effective whole. Based on an extensive industrial case study with a diesel engine company, this paper first argues that the overview and experience of senior designers play an important part in supporting teamwork by coordinating activities and facilitating proactive communication across large project teams. As experts move on and novices or contractors are hired, problems are likely to occur as tacit overview knowledge is lost. If informal, overview-driven processes break down, the risk of costly oversights will increase, and greater management overhead will be required to realize successful product designs. Existing process models provide a means to express the connectivity between tasks and components thus to compensate partially for the loss of tacit overview. This paper proposes the use of design confidence, a metric that reflects the designer's belief in the maturity of a particular design parameter at a given point in the process, to address the limitations of existing models. The applicability of confidence-based design models in providing overview, as well as their shortcomings, will be demonstrated through the example of a diesel engine design process. Confidence can be used to make overview knowledge explicit and convey additional information about the design artifact, thereby informing communication and negotiation between teams

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2007 Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 1469-1760
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Not SetNot SetEPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
Keywords: communication; design confidence; experience; management; negotiation; overview; process modeling; teamwork
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 18628
Depositing User: Users 8128 not found.
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2009 15:54
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2018 13:58
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU