- By looking at the various design process used by others and
- modifying them with my own thinking and experimentation,
- I have reached the following design process.
- I attribute much of it to Buckminister Fuller but,
- if you look in literature left behind by Fuller,
- you will not find most of it and whatever you find will be worded differently.
So, if the process fails, I am the person to be blamed.
Existing Product/Service with ConsumerEdit
- Start the design process by assuming that the customer already has a product or a service with which he is living happily.
- Whatever you design has to give him a much better deal before he will begin to consider what you have to offer.
Price- feature value propositionEdit
- Define a price- feature value proposition that you want to achieve.
- An example:
- If we are to design a new solar cooker for a urban/ near urban consumer,
- she has a Gas cooker (LPG/Propane/Butane/ Natural Gas) that costs a maximum of Rs 900 ( US$ 16 at 1 US$ = Rs 50).
- This cooker does everything that she wants whenever she wants.
- In a month a typical urban household spends upto Rs 300 (US$6 per month) for fuel.
- In around Pune in Maharashtra, India, sunlight is available for cooking for a maximum of 200 days a year.
- In those 200 days, it can cook lunch almost everyday but cooking breakfast and dinner requires a great deal of ingenuity.
- In my assessment, which is pretty subjective, a good solar cooker design should deliver the cooker
- at a price range of Rs 250 (US$ 5) to Rs 3,000 ( US$ 60).
- The closer you are to the price of Rs 250, easier it will be for the customer to accept what you offer.
- The closer you are to the upper price range of Rs 3,000 fewer will be conversions to your product.
Weight is the Greatest EnemyEdit
- Analyse the existing product in this way which is derived from Fuller's belief that
- weight is the greatest enemy of engineering design:
- Break down the existing product into its various components.
- Weigh each component and rearrange the list so that it is in the descending order of weight.
- If we were to design a new transistor radio and were analysing an existing one,
- the heaviest component would be its loudspeaker followed by its batteries etc.
- The outer case would be much heavier than the integrated circuits.
- The tuning coil might be slightly heavier than the circuit board.
- The indiviual IC would be the lightest components.
Describe the function of each componentEdit
- Describe the function of each component in the reordered list.
- Efficiency is Output divided by Input.
- If there is no input, efficiency is the highest i.e. it is indeterminably high.
- Therefore the first goal of design is to eliminate as many components and functions
- that do not lead to the direct end function sought to be achieved.
- Focus on functions to be eliminated first as components will be automatically eliminated as the functions are eliminated.
- Look to combine components to reduce their existing combined weight.
- Do not look for marginal reduction in weight. Boldly look to reduce weight by a factor of 10.
- In almost all cases this is possible.
- In case of the transistor radio, by eliminating a loud speaker and
- replacing its function by a pair of earphones it was possible to eliminate its heaviest component.
- It also allowed huge reduction in the weight of the batteries and their case as
- very little power was needed to power the ear phones.
- By combing the on-off switch, the volume control, and the dial for tuning, further reduction in weight happened.
- There is a design philosophy called TRIZ that is finding increasing acceptance in automotive engineering.
- One part of the philosophy is that everything has already been invented.
- Ignore it as databases of existing inventions are a closely guarded secretes of Triz practitioners.
- The second part of the philosophy is that all design is a trade off between competing factors.
- They have a matrix of forty such factors and such factors are publicly known.
- You can research and use such factors as you like or
- use a very simple list of just two factors viz. efficiency versus effectiveness.
Trade Off Efficiency for EffectivenessEdit
- Ask yourself what constitutes efficiency in the design and
- what design possibilities would open up if
- you deliberately set a goal for lower efficiency and higher effectiveness.
- For example the first generation of Solar Cells were entirely focused on using better and better quality of crystalline silicon as that lead to higher conversion efficiency.
- The second generation solar cells use amorphous silicon that has a much lower conversion efficiency
- but the entire solar cell is much more effective as amorphous silicon is much cheaper to produce compared to high quality crystalline silicon.
What is a good design idea?Edit
- How do you know what is a good design idea?
- Over years I have come to the conclusion that whenever you think you have a good design idea,
- spend a fortnight looking for an implementation of that very idea in another design space.
- If the idea is really good, it would have already occurred to others and they would have implemented it in their design space.
- If it is not implemented by somebody else in another design space, it probably is not a good idea
Try to expose all parts of design as early as possible to criticismEdit
- Seek criticism by all including enemies, friends, knowledgeable persons etc.
- Listen to all but make your own decisions.
- It is critical that the price-feature value proposition is exposed as early as possible and to as many persons as possible.
- Ignorant people have robust common sense and can often point to other existing products that serve the same market and that already match/ exceed your proposition.
- Carefully check out what they have to say and satisfy yourself that you are meeting a serious design goal!
If you do not want to expose the design early?Edit
- Not all designers and certainly not in all circumstances can designers early expose their price-feature value proposition.
- If you are in such a situation, what can be done to ensure that you are meeting a good design goal?
- Conduct a thought experiment.
- Ask if you were to offer the price-feature value process to the target audience, would sixty percent of it buy your product without any fuss?
- If the answer is Yes, you have a goal to work towards.
- If the answer is No, rework the price-feature value proposition.