19 October 2022


Collaborative Engineering

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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.

In this new blog series, they share their insights into how you can ensure concurrent design sessions are rigorous and the outcomes are high quality.

By Gwendolyn Kolfschoten, Concurrent Design Expert

Catch up with our previous blog series on 10 Success Factors for Collaborative Design.

1. The role of the facilitator

Concurrent design requires a specific style of process facilitation.

Traditionally, facilitation methods prescribe that the person acting as the facilitator for a meeting or workshop only supports the process, and should not have any influence on the outcome of the meeting. But concurrent design is somewhat different.

Although the facilitator should remain impartial, neutral and objective in concurrent design sessions, they have a key role in making sure the group works based on facts and is driven by data. They also need to ensure the team is rigorous.

This requires the facilitator to constantly challenge the rigour behind the results that have been presented. They also need to ensure that experts in the group do the same.

Atmosphere is key to achieve rigour and quality

However, when running concurrent design sessions, we have to make sure the environment feels ‘safe’ or the team may not feel confident enough to be fully involved. Errors and mistakes are inevitable in the early design phase that we work in, and so we need to create an atmosphere in which results are challenged and improved in a constructive manner.

This means we have to create a setting that is focused on constructive criticism, quality and rigour, without anyone apportioning blame for mistakes that are uncovered. Instead, we see ‘mistakes’ as ‘presents’ for the project manager; anything that does not add up at this phase is far easier to solve now than when it would be if it were discovered in a later phase.

In other words, we need to create ‘psychological safety’ to enable high levels of scrutiny – we need to ensure everyone feels they can challenge facts and offer constructive criticism.

Find out more

In this new series of blog posts on concurrent design, we will present 10 techniques to improve rigour and quality. These will offer a toolbox for concurrent design team leads to support their teams effectively in improving and testing the design. We will cover aspects such as peer reviewing, how to handle validation when working with rough estimates, how to zoom in and focus without losing a holistic view, and how to keep the team on track and contributing positively.

Follow RHEA Group on LinkedIn to be alerted to new posts in this series.

Catch up with our previous blog series on 10 Success Factors for Collaborative Design.