RHEA’s experts have been using concurrent design for nearly two decades to accelerate the early phases of complex engineering projects such as space programmes, defence systems, factory design and luxury yachts. Now, in this blog series, they share 10 key factors that contribute to the success of the approach.

By Gwendolyn Kolfschoten, Concurrent Design Expert

Catch up with last month’s post: 10 Success Factors for Collaborative Design: Part 9 – Taking an iterative approach

10: The team as super-brain

One vital contributory factor to the success of concurrent design is treating the team as a ‘super-brain’.

Together, we know more than each stakeholder does individually. And by exploring different angles to a problem, solutions emerge that are both innovative and integrated. This approach creates room for new ideas and perspectives, and ensures that solutions are challenged by those with different areas of expertise.

Further, we can extend the team’s super-brain with an online memory. Using appropriate IT systems and support, we enable the team to share knowledge and give stakeholders access to different sources of information that can be integrated in a way that allows rigorous analysis. We tap into different perspectives, resulting in both synthesis – the integration of different perspectives – and synergy.

woman talking to team at table with laptopsSynergy is key in concurrent design, as it means the end result is more than simply the sum of individual contributions. Instead, the joint solution results in:

  • Shared understanding
  • Increased efficiency
  • More effective design solutions
  • Enhanced team experience.

Shared understanding

RHEA Group partnerships partners iconConcurrent design solutions are based on shared understanding – there is an emphasis on development of a shared language and an integrated vision of the system and its coherency. This integrated vision enables early insight into, and understanding of, interdisciplinary challenges and risks in the design.

Increased efficiency

RHEA Group R&D research and development iconConcurrent design increases efficiency. The approach requires a significant time investment and the duration of the study project is shorter – it is intensive and focused, like a pressure cooker. However, this time investment typically results in an overall efficiency gain of a factor of two, meaning that a typical study saves half the work-hours usually expected for the overall design effort.

Depending on the frequency chosen for each iteration, the throughput time can be as little as a quarter of the time for a regular study.

Effective design solutions

RHEA Group marketing campaign iconConcurrent design produces more effective design solutions. That is because the design challenge is solved in a more integrated manner, which increases the quality and thoroughness of the solution.

Furthermore, concurrent design enhances decision-making. Frequent invitations for feedback and challenging assumptions makes the process more rigorous, resulting in better decisions.

Enhanced team experience

RHEA Group large teams iconConcurrent design enhances the team bond among study participants. A better team bond ensures high engagement, ownership and commitment towards the result, and improves future collaboration.

Team members also often experience more fun and motivation as a result of being part of a team effort with short feedback loops. This ensures the result is well supported by the team and that implementation is much more likely to be successful, as team members can easily find each other to discuss and align things, and agree on execution.

Our tips

  • Ensure shared understanding of the overall design.
  • Create a pressure cooker effect though short iterations.
  • Enhance rigour and high quality by treating this approach as normal, explicitly asking for feedback and challenging assumptions.