Risk-Driven Design Processes: Balancing Efficiency with Resilience in Product Design

  • J. Oehmen
  • W. Seering


Current design methods and approaches focus on increasing the efficiency of the product design system by, for example, eliminating waste and focusing on value creation. However, continuing failures in the development of complex, large scale products and systems point towards weaknesses in the existing approaches. We argue that product development organizations are hindered by the many uncertainties that are inherent in the process. Common management heuristics ignore uncertainty and thus overly simplify the decision making process. Creating transparency regarding uncertainties and the associated risks (i.e. effect of uncertainties on design objectives) is not seen as an explicit priority. Consequently organizations are unable to balance risk and return in their development choices. Product development processes do not emphasize reduction of risks, particularly those risks that are apparent early in the process. In addition, the resilience of the PD system, i.e. its ability to deliver on-target results under uncertainty, is not deliberately designed to match the level of residual uncertainty. This chapter introduces the notion of Risk-Driven Design and its four principles of 1. Creating transparency regarding design risks; 2. Risk-driven decision making; 3. Minimizing uncertainty; and 4. Creating resilience.


Product Design Input Factor Product Development Process Unit Production Cost Cost Overrun 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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The authors thank Alison Olechowski, Eric Rebentisch, Mohamed Ben-Daya and Günter Lessing for their thoughtful comments, as well as the Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI) at MIT and the MIT-KFUPM Center for Clean Water and Energy for their funding support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Oehmen
    • 1
  • W. Seering
    • 1
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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