Complexity Management Model


The previous chapter has shown that currently there is no concept or tool in the field of complexity management that satisfies all five criteria of Section 3.1 (strategic aspects, market aspects, product architecture, quantification of complexity, and applicability in an industry setting). This chapter presents a model that attempts to combine all of these issues. It is obvious, therefore, that the five criteria will be drawn upon at a later stage of this work to assess the complexity management model presented here. The model’s focus is on products and their architectures and, thus, is always applied to a particular product (or close-knit product families), but never to an entire product portfolio, an enterprise, or some other organizational unit.


Product Life Cycle Mass Customization Physical Complexity Product Architecture Design Structure Matrix 
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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  1. 4.
    A study by Miller and Dess (1993, pp. 553–554) found that between 1986 and 1990, half of all manuscripts published in the Strategic Management Journal referenced Porter’s (1980) work.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    It can be argued whether a firm should exploit several aspects of differentiation, as Porter (1980, p. 37) argued. In certain cases it is more appropriate to concentrate the firm’s resources on one or two dimensions of differentiation.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Similarly, Piller (2003, p. 213) reasoned that cost leadership is based on special structural preconditions of the producer (such as efficient fabrication systems), while differentiation is driven by market aspects.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    White (1986, p. 230) introduced the two concepts of either combining differentiation and cost leadership simultaneously or giving sequential attention to both strategies.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    The objective of the PIMS (profit impact of market strategies) program is to investigate the factors that are decisive for sustained success of SBUs. PIMS data are based on more than 3000 SBUs, collected over several years. Eight factors were identified that are strongly related to and very important for a business’ profitability (Seiler, 2000b, pp. 301–302).Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    According to Porter (1996, p. 62), the best possible trade-off can be determined by investigating existing best practices.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    The graphic in Figure 4.6 is derived from Porter (1996, p. 62). In the original version, the ordinate is labeled “nonprice buyer value delivered.”Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    As an example, Lampel and Mintzberg (1996, p. 28) mentioned that we do not generally bargain over price with our medical doctors.Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    Seiler (2000a, pp. 200–201) differentiated between the core product, the formal product (packaging, quality, styling, product characteristics, etc.), and the extended product (installation, service, warranty, free delivery, etc.). This classification is similar to Kotier and Keller’s (2006, pp. 372–373), who introduced a hierarchy of five levels: core benefit, basic product, expected product, augmented product, and potential product. Kotier and Keller’s typology, in turn, is based on Levitt (1980).Google Scholar
  10. 19.
    See Kotler and Keller (2006, p. 323) for depictions of the three alternate patterns and the three special categories, respectively.Google Scholar
  11. 20.
    See Kotier and Keller (2006, p. 331) for a brief critique of the PLC concept.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    As an example of handling product variety, Sekolec (2005, p. 30) mentioned the introduction of computer aided selling (CAS) and product configurators.Google Scholar
  13. 24.
    The graphics are based on the following sources: “generic strategies,” Porter (1980, p. 39); “customization vs. standardization,” Schuh and Schwenk (2001, p. 62); “hybrid strategies,” Miller and Dess (1993, p. 565); “product life cycle,” Kotier and Keller (2006, p. 322).Google Scholar
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    The functions and percentages are based on Tanaka (1989, pp. 62–65).Google Scholar
  15. 31.
    The graphic is based on Rapp’s (1999, p. 38) visualization of product structures.Google Scholar
  16. 35.
    Browning (2001, p. 293) reported that the DSM has found applications in the building construction, semiconductor, automotive, photographic, aerospace, telecom, small-scale manufacturing, factory equipment, and electronics industries. The correlation matrix (the “roof”) of the QFD matrix (see Figures 3.4 and 3.5) exhibits the same principles as the DSM. Pimmler and Eppinger (1994) used the DSM to identify interactions between components and cluster them into major chunks. Also by means of the DSM, Baldwin and Clark (1999) analyzed the influence of design parameters and product attributes on each other and on the production process.Google Scholar
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    Decoupled interfaces allow for changing one component while eliminating the need for also altering the other component. Contrary to that, two components share coupled interfaces if a change made to one component necessitates changing the other component, too (Ulrich, 1995, p. 423). See boxed example below.Google Scholar
  18. 44.
    Monofunctional interfaces are encountered more frequently in practice than multifunctional interfaces. An example of a monofunctional interface is an automobile’s cylinder block. Many different cylinder heads can be connected to the block, but to function properly, a cylinder head (and no other component) must always be attached to the block (Rapp, 1999, pp. 34–35).Google Scholar
  19. 45.
    A socket can handle a large variety of different appliances, such as a TV set, lamp, drill, etc. Drawers, shelves, cupboards, etc. can be connected to the vertical rods of a book shelf system by the same interface (Rapp, 1999, p. 35). USB interfaces are another example of multifunctional interfaces.Google Scholar

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