In this contribution, I have attempted to provide an insight into the major components of the integrated design environment that companies might deploy to support their new product development process. Core concepts that have been discussed in support of the arguments in favour of the integration of design technologies into a systematic management approach of the innovation process were: ambiguity, uncertainty and learning via experimentation and analysis. Of course, as argued, implementing this ‘Integrated Design Capability’ is not without difficulties and problems.
The building blocks that constitute this ‘Integrated Design Capability’ are threefold (see Figure 2 for a summary representation):

  • Project modes of organisation in which teamwork, milestone management, and output- oriented work definition and follow-up are predominant and supported by appropriate senior management commitment and incentive systems;
  • Methodologies that foster interdisciplinary problem-definition and problem-solving activities during design and development projects;
  • Technologies that foster the efficient cross-disciplinary analysis as well as the systematic and intelligent experimentation and representation of new product designs.

As mentioned, introducing an ‘Integrated Design Capability’ in an organisation may be quite disruptive with respect to the design expertise and experience currently available. However, the integrated design environment also allows for a more adaptive and responsive interpretation of the ‘traditional’ (phased and rational planned) project management structures that have been deployed in new product development contexts in the past (see for instance Clark and Fujimoto, 1991). As a consequence, the ‘Integrated Design Capability’ introduces a degree of flexibility in design that is badly needed in today’s competitive new product development environment. This environment is characterized by increased time-to-market pressures and shortening product lifecycles. Hence, the creation of an ‘Integrated Design Capability’ is to be considered an important and critical strategic investment by any company.


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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

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