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December 20, 2012

Audi announces new design strategy

In discussing Audi’s new cooperative vehicle design approach, Achim Badstübner [1], head of exterior design identified a critical challenge faced by any organization attempting improve the manner in which they consider product development in a more holistic manner, that is “...to break down the culture of individual authorship and encourage cooperation...You have to be an expert and there is an advantage in digging deep, to really know every screw, every system and pattern for a specific thing, because you have all of the information at the point where you need it, but it is misguided in another way. If you dig too deep, it's a little bit like digging a hole: you're in the hole so you can't see the world around it."

The intensity to which one group focuses on an aspect of a problem is not without merit. As Vince Barabba [2] points out in his new book, The Decision Loom, “Many functional managers...attempt to maintain complete control to ensure that their function is run efficiently and not influenced by outside forces.” He points out that value of the functional silos is found in their “...ability to use their resources to generate deep and valuable functional knowledge.”

The problem that needs to be avoided is to ensure that the perfect solution for a specific function does not have negative consequences for another function with which it interacts.  Finding this problem has occurred after the design is put together is very costly.  Barabba’s suggestion is to treat the design activity more like a molecular structure and treat the functions as molecules that interact with each other. The important distinction of the molecular metaphor is that functional cells are contained by membranes and not walls. Membranes are capable of letting information in and out. In this way the functions share information and improve the chance that their combined capabilities will create a whole that is greater than the sum of their individual expertise.

[1] “Audi announces new design strategy,” Posted on Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 at 5:44 pm by Rose Etherington,  Dezeen Magazine, December 19, 2012

[2] Barabba, Vincent; The Decision Loom, Triarchy Press, Stanton, UK 2011, Pages 193-198

Posted by ACASA on December 20, 2012 at 01:46 PM in Blogger Search, Books | Permalink


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