Driving Effective Conversations-Prioritizing and Decision Making at Concept Development and Beyond
We’ve been discovering the importance of considering a variety of inputs early in the design process. Now, we navigate the challenge of prioritizing these inputs to make the crucial trade-off decisions that can make or break your product.
We journey through the world of early concept development, discussing how setting priorities can ensure we deliver what’s truly important. We look at how these priorities can guide the product development process and how they can be adjusted when new information arises. From surprising test failures to unexpected customer issues, we explore how to reassess our priorities based on these fresh insights.
Along the way, I’ll be sharing more tools and techniques from previous episodes to help you prioritize your ideas effectively. Get ready to enhance your approach to product design and development and create products that your customers will love!
Using quality tools is a powerful way to gather and prioritize design inputs. We elaborate on the importance of prioritizing design inputs to make trade-off decisions, focus efforts, and ensure that what we’re designing delivers what’s important. We also emphasize the need to reprioritize as we uncover something new in the product development process.
When faced with an unexpected failure, going back to the priorities set can provide guidance on the next steps. I encourage allowing room to change our minds or reprioritize once we learn something new. This flexibility is key to successfully navigating the often complex product development process.
This episode is a treasure trove of insights for anyone looking to enhance their approach to product design and development. Quality during Design’s emphasis on early prioritization and the iterative process of adjusting priorities as we learn more about the product offers a valuable framework for creating products that resonate with customers. By incorporating these insights into the design process, businesses can ensure they are delivering products that truly meet customer needs.
Other Quality during Design podcast interviews you might like:
Hi, I’m Dianna Deeney. We are talking about product design and new product development and working early with our cross-functional teams to be able to get the design inputs that we need when we’re actually designing things and making decisions. Now we have so many inputs and I’m asking you to expand that a little bit and get a little more inputs. Well, which ones are important? Is it the most technical input? Is it the features that our competitors have that we don’t yet? How do we prioritize all these different kind of inputs? Let’s talk more about that after the brief introduction.
Hello and welcome to Quality During Design, the place to use quality thinking to create products others love for less. Each week, we talk about ways to use quality during design and product development. I’m your host, Dianna Deeney. I’m a senior level quality professional and engineer with over 20 years of experience in manufacturing and design. I consult with businesses and coach individuals on how to apply quality during design to their processes. Listen in and then join us Visit qualityduringdesign.com.
At Quality During Design, we talk about early concept development and using quality tools in order to explore the concept space with our cross-functional team to be able to get those design inputs. Using quality tools is a way to self-advocate and enable ourselves, the product design engineers, to be able to get those inputs at the time that we need it, the time that we’re making decisions about the product design, along with being able to have a framework to work against when we don’t even have a product design yet, which is something that quality tools do. And they’re also visual, so it is easier to facilitate a discussion with a group and focus on a particular area of our concept space when we’re using quality tools.
The other benefit of using quality tools in this space is that they have a built-in way to help you prioritize those different inputs that you’re gathering. Now, why would we want to prioritize ideas in concept development?
- Well, we want to be able to prioritize design inputs to make trade-off decisions. We can have this or we can have that. We can’t have both, so which one is more important? Being able to prioritize can help bring clarity to that kind of decision.
- It will also help us focus our efforts. We only have so much limited time, effort and resources to be able to accomplish tasks. Maybe we don’t have enough of those kind of resources to be able to develop all the things. So having a priority of design inputs that we want to focus on helps us focus our efforts.
- It also helps ensure that whatever we’re designing delivers what’s important. We may have a lot of customer inputs. Prioritizing will help us understand which of those is most important for our customer.
- These kind of priorities also helps us set up reliability goals, because we’ll understand the use environment, the use space, we’ll understand what the expectations are and we can set up reliability goals appropriately based on the priority.
- And understanding the priority of things also helps us communicate with the manufacturing, production or the suppliers. It can help us choose the manufacturing method or the production method that will help us meet the requirements.
We can prioritize these things really early in concept development, when we’re still exploring the problem space for design inputs. When we’re looking at customer experiences in the concept space.
- When we’re looking at benefits, potential benefits that this new product could give to our customers, we can prioritize those benefits based off of a customer satisfaction rating.
- When things don’t go right, when we have a potential problem our customers might be experiencing a potential symptom based off that problem, we can start to prioritize those kind of design inputs based on risk, the severity of the impact to our customer and the likelihood that it could occur.
- And when we’re examining the use process in the concept space, which is the task that our user is trying to take to get from point A to point B all the different steps and interactions they potentially have with their product we can prioritize those process steps in other ways. What is critical to quality? What is value added? Who is doing what when? And can we make that easier? Are there mistake-proofing things that we could do?
I’m promoting making priority decisions early, but what if we make a mistake in setting a priority early in concept development? What if we uncover something new? Well then, we need to reprioritize. Product development processes aren’t a static thing. We do want consistency throughout the product development process. That makes things easier, but we also need to allow ourselves room to change our minds or reprioritize once we learn something new.
As an example, we do a product test and we get a phone call from the lab to investigate a failure which was really unexpected. We didn’t expect this kind of failure. It’s something new. We haven’t seen it before.
So what do we do in that case? We don’t want to ignore it. We need to do something about it, understanding what action we want to take or what we want to do. It really depends, doesn’t it? Going back to the priorities that we’ve set, it helps. Why was it given the priority that it had, and now that we’ve learned something new, does that change its meaning?
If we get to a point where we’re comparing ideas against each other, there are other methods of prioritizing and I covered those in a previous episode called After the Storm: Compare and Prioritize Ideas. In that episode I talked about Paired Comparison Prioritization Matrices and DMRCS, another systematic way that we can evaluate options.
What’s today’s insight to action? We can start prioritizing design inputs and ideas at concept development and then we iterate and adjust as we learn more about our product through the product development process. At least setting a starting point at concept will help us do all those things that prioritizing helps with to help us make trade-off decisions and focus our efforts and deliver what’s important. Using quality tools to help explore concept development not only helps us work with our cross-functional team on ideas, they also help us prioritize those ideas so that we can work appropriately. I did mention a previous podcast episode that related, called After the Storm, and I will link to that in the podcast blog for this episode. This has been a production of Deeney Enterprises. Thanks for listening.