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