There are many ways a Design is created. A design emerges from some of the obvious conditions such as:
- Is it a nascent effort (first ever) or routine application ?
- Which are the technologies involved ?
- What is the desired nature of output ?
- What are the human and other resources available ?
- Can the design be substantially achieved through personal effort or will require input from others as well ?
- What is the scale of detail and how is it to be communicated to the executors of design ?
- Which are the presentation tools and communication methods available ?
Yet one the most important factor that affects the Quality of Design is the Technic of Design or the Design Process.
Some of the important Traditional Design approaches are detailed here: These traditional design approaches are not exclusive in themselves or comparable.
1 Holistic approach
2 Component approach
3 Redesign or Re-engineering
4 Concurrent engineering or Simultaneous design.
Other New Design processes are discussed briefly in the later section of this note.
A Systems Thinking
B Conservation of Resources
1 Holistic Approach
Design effort that conceives a complete and self-contained system to begin with is called a Holistic Approach (Whole to the Part). Holistic approach entails germination of an intuition into a complete system. Such creations are very personal, akin to a work of art, often not functional, Holistic creations are one time achievement and often not reproducible. Holistic approach is useful in areas where sufficient information is unavailable or there is a distinct disinclination to search for the detail.
Holistic approach is inadvertently followed when inspiration rather than logic causes a design. A holistic conception and its execution, if distanced in time, some recall is required forcing documentation of the design. With documentation the holistic creation may not remain as wholesome.
- The term holism was introduced by the South African statesman Jan Smuts in his 1926 book, Holism and Evolution. Smuts defined holism as the tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution.
- The whole is more than the sum of its parts -Aristotle. Holism (from holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by the sum of its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave. Reductionism is sometimes seen as the opposite of holism. In science reductionism is seen as a complex system that can be explained by reduction to its fundamental parts. Chemistry is reducible to physics, and biology is reducible to chemistry and physics, similarly psychology and sociology are reducible to biology, etc. Some other consider holism and reductionism to be complementary viewpoints to offer a proper account of a given system.
2 Component Approach:
A complex entity is perceived, as if composed of several subsystems each of which is already substantially real and functional. One is required to solve the inter relationship of subsystems, and while doing so, upgrade the original subsystem or possibly select a new subsystem. Component approach (parts to the whole) provides systems that are reliable, but usually traditional. Where situations demand a radically different or a novel solution, Parts to the Whole design approach is often inadequate. The component approach requires one to have complete over view of the system, and be able to recognize the value of the component in the whole. This is rather simplified by recognizing the time and space extent of the subsystems. The components dwelling or manifesting within such domains may not have any affectations beyond their domain boundaries, so can be dealt easily.
3 Redesign or Re-engineering:
Most products, however claimed to be original, are only improvised version of some existing thing or a Redesign. This is a well-accepted design approach for products' development. It has perhaps, a little less relevance in design processes of unique or first ever systems, such as Civil structures and Architectural entities.
- Japan perfected the process and achieved distinctive product design solutions in early 1960s. Sony music system Walkman has been evolved through such efforts. At that point of time taped music system were very bulky or heavy weight. To enjoy the hi-fi sound quality outdoors, one had to have large sized twin speakers, heavy batteries for power supply, and spool type tapes. A Walkman helped redesigning of these subsystems and a completely innovative product was launched.
Manufacturers need to design new products and launch them before a competitor can do. Redesign or Re-engineering is used for product development for Automobiles, `white goods', office equipments, etc. Markets are continuously surveyed to find out the features that make certain products to be leaders in the market. An attempt is made to improvise and absorb such features.
As one is operating with a successful subsystem, the chances of its failure are less. Redesign generates a product in its new Avatar. Redesign addresses to deficiencies of aging technologies, fast changing tastes and varying operative conditions of products. It gives very specific clues which new features are accepted and which are the emergent technologies. It also allows faster incorporation of new technologies as new subsystems being offered by inventors and innovators are continuously sought and included. New products are launched with minimum changes to existing tools and plant. Workers only need to upgrade their skills, and new employees or new training schedules are not required. The improvised product has slight familiarity with the existing range, and as a result the comfort of acceptance is high.
Redesign practitioners operate with notions that:
- A whole system is divisible into subsystems, each of which can be improvised.
- These subsystems can be improved in-house, but technologically better solutions are being developed by others, so identify them and collaborate to resource such emergent solutions.
- It is more efficient to redesign or re-engineer a known system, then go into basic research to discover a new entity.
- A product of redesign process has fewer chances of failure, because one is improvising upon a working system.
- Transfer or absorption of new Technologies is very fast.
Organizations, that deal in very competitive markets prefer redesign processes as it allows them to continuously update their product with minimum of risks.
4 Concurrent Engineering or Simultaneous Designing:
Nominally large projects are divided into several task modules, each of which were till recently handled sequentially. Experts or team working in their own domain used to handle the problem by freezing it (status quo). The solution was then transmitted to the project leader. Every time a major change was proposed all other modules had to be reset, forcing rethink and rework. To avoid such problems, project designing is now handled Concurrently or Simultaneously.
To overcome the delays of sequential working, several teams are formed to handle tasks concurrently (to work in parallel mode). For these, the organization must have necessary resources, alternatively the work is outsourced to external experts. The concept of concurrent engineering or simultaneous designing requires fast communication channels for live or virtual linkage. Design changes are immediately transmitted both ways, to the project leader as well as teams handling specific tasks. Very often the design process is in a public domain like Internet world wide web through which anyone can contribute ideas, products, etc. CAD files, spreadsheets and databases are structured to be multi access document systems.
- For example, a significant design change in a structural design of a bridge span will affect design of many other sub systems. It could mean change of loads on the columns, foundation structures, scaffolding requirements etc. Each of these would have new design parameters, but with electronic drafting tools and instant communication means, all design changes can be apparent to all the concerned agencies, immediately.
- A system can be perceived as consisting of several dependent or independent subsystems. If the nature of the dependency can be defined, then the subsystems can be dealt by the Same Team rescheduling it to a date before or later (sequentially) or by Different Teams simultaneously (in parallel).
- Association of different teams primarily allows superior technological input. Different teams working in Parallel Mode offer faster a throughput. Teams located in different time zones though do not fully operate in parallel mode, offer advantage of local technologies and 24x7 daylight working hours.
- Virtual parallel processing of projects occur in many different ways. Database, spreadsheet, CAD drawings and other documents can be altered by many different users, with each version or layer identified separately and a possibility of assimilating (merging) it selectively.
- Current days high speed virtual communication (broad band internet, video conferencing) allow changes to be proposed, confirmed and accommodated in real time mode.
- The design evolution becomes participatory. It does not remain restricted to hired or appointed experts, but becomes a public domain affair with inventors, innovators and other free-lancers offering novel ideas. Such offers are usually on a try it-like it-buy it, basis, i.e., without any consultancy charges or purchase-payment obligations.
During and post world war-II period several New Design Approaches have evolved. Some of the important trigger factors are:
- Shift from National or Individual dominant producer/ supplier Standards to Industry standards ir International consensus standards (such ISO = International Standards Organization).
- Shift from traditional material + procedure specifications to Performance specifications, mainly for Government purchases.
- Quality Conscience through adherence to voluntary declarations through ISO 900x, 1400x, etc. It also includes declaration of social and other obligations for all products, services and actions.
- Provision of Guarantees and warranties of assembled or combined systems by third party professionals or audit and evaluation organizations, rather then by the designers or planners of the projects.
- The role of media and NGOs in documentation, active reportage and proactive participation beyond the Governmental controls.
A Systems Thinking:
One of the first one to emerge as a result of world war II experiences and later the development of Management Sciences is the Systems Thinking (see chapter on Systems Thinking). A systems approach considers an object or human activity as an exclusive or dependent part or sub-system of a larger system. The exclusivity of the of a part is not real, but an intended isolation to study and design the subsystem. The subsystems are accelerated or decelerated in either time or space, or both to mark the likely areas of failure. Systems Thinking being an all inclusive approach, naturally considers operation or working of the creation and its final dissolution.
B Conservation of Resources:
It also in some manner includes Minimalism, miniaturization, rationalization and simplification of everything. This is not new thinking, it has been part of mankind forever, but as a Design Conscience it helps in creating better solutions in a new perspective. This approach was favoured due the development in electronics.
Bio mimicry presupposes that all things in nature are superior and work efficiently. It also accepts that natural things have complex working and many areas are in grey zones, that is not easily comprehensible. But the approach assumes that it is matter of time for grey zones to clear out, and all bio-mimicked things will have greater efficiency and relevance.