Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Design quantification: Design concept argumentation as related to product performance metrics
by Petersen, Soren Ingomar, Ph.D., Stanford University, 2009, 308; 3364509
Abstract (Summary)

Research shows the importance of storytelling for designers in establishing and communicating initial concepts. Therefore, fifty designers were interviewed regarding newly developed concepts, using an interview guide based on the widely accepted IDEA Award application form. Information segments from these interviews were then coded according to an established progressive framework of 13 key Concept Aspects, derived from industry-accepted standards. The IDEA award is widely accepted as relevant to good design and it's judging criteria captured 66% of established design quality criteria. IDEA Award reception also showed a correlation with external success metrics, such as stock performance and web exposure. The combined Concept Aspect Profile (CAP) was compared to the combined profile of identically coded of IDEA applications for year 2005 and a positive correlation was found. Further investigation of the top level Gold Award from IDEA, and its correlation with design argumentation as represented by CAP, resulted in the establishment of a "Golden CAP Fingerprint," which can be used to predict user acceptance and investors' expectations.

Application of the Concept Aspect Model is limited to concept selection in the conceptual phase given that interview data is collected in this phase. Verbal arguments could have a different characteristic and/or role downstream and thus have a significantly different relevant concept selection. Furthermore, the financial data is from large American corporations and the IDEA Award data is based on entries in the consumer product category. This reduces the methods' proven applicability to the United States corporate culture with respect to consumer products.

Having answered yes to the research question, the established performance metric connections can now form the basis for practical procedures. Concepts in the conceptual phase can be coded using CAP and compared to the "Golden CAP Fingerprint" with minimal additional effort. It is now possible to evaluate the competing concepts potential performance by observing a verbal argument's focus on the five aspects: "Individual," "Activity," "Function," "Planning" and "Philosophy." Aligning the argument to the Golden CAP Fingerprint makes it possible to adjust the verbal argument, optimizing general awareness of the product and investors' expectation of performance. The method facilitates iterative optimization of the concepts though a modification and/or combination of the verbal concepts arguments followed by re-performing the CAP analysis.

The integrity of the Concept Aspect Model is confirmed and its appropriateness in practice has been illustrated. Using the Concept Aspect Model eliminates the influence of context dependent preferences and political gamesmanship. The opaque model has the additional benefit of preventing the interviewee from couching their answer to obtain a favorable evaluation, even if they understood the underlying method. Thus, the model insures objectivity and retains a reliable connection to and predictability of the external metrics.

Summary - Top Pive findings: (1) Designers cannot be considered experts regarding evaluating design in a cultural context, predicting design success, objectively judging their own design or judging design without explicit expressed criteria. (2) A comprehensive set of nine Design Quality Criteria has been constructed to capture a product's design quality. These criteria correlate with general awareness of a product and its financial performance. (3) Concepts can be quantified using the Concept Aspect Model and a particular concept's Concept Aspect Profile correlates with the IDEA Award reception level (Gold, Silver, Bronze and Non-qualifying). (4) IDEA Award reception level (Gold, Silver, Bronze and Non-qualifying) correlate with general awareness of a product and its financial performance and behaves as a leading indicator. The effect is cumulative, reflecting the value contribution of the design process and supporting structure reflected in DQC. (5) A visualization method, named "The Golden Fingerprint" has been devised for communicating a concept's strength and weakness to the design team as measured by its ability to perform at Gold level or Non-qualifying level. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Leifer, Larry
School: Stanford University
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mechanical engineering, Operations research
Keywords: Concept Aspect Model, Product performance
Publication Number: 3364509
ISBN: 978-1-109-24301-7
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