Individuals in product development : interactions with teams and products
Author(s)Castro, João Nuno Lopes
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.
Warren P. Seering.
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This dissertation focuses on how individuals involved in complex product development operate and interact with other people in the project and how they perceive and modify the product. Complex product development requires the collaboration of multiple individuals who are specialists in different disciplines. One of the challenges with the execution of design and development projects is coordinating the contributions of each individual to guarantee an aligned, seamless fit. I review a selection of the literature on team frameworks, coordination methods and empirical product development studies which address teams, individuals and product architectures and structures. I then conduct two studies. One focuses on individual to individual communication requirement stability and the other on individual interaction with product structure over the development period. In the first, I examine how the most important communication channels between individuals in multifunctional teams compare across thirteen different projects. In this study I found a direct correlation between functionally similar projects and their network of important communication links between individuals. This indicates that when faced with a problem of similar nature the profile of connections between individuals - which ones are more or less important - will also be similar. In the second, I study how individuals interact with the structure of a product in four software development projects. I found that most individual work is localized and consists of internal improvement work. When work is done that requires simultaneous modifications of several components, I found that the associations made between components does not follow the existing structural dependencies as indicated by the function calls between components. This behavior is consistent throughout the development of the projects and is not dependent on the design state of the product. The associations made between components are also not a good indicator of future structural dependencies. These observations do not follow the indications from previous work on team interactions and product structure, revealing that individuals make associations beyond those suggested by just the structural connections. It was also observed that individuals are able to identify and work on the most important components in a product and that work is conducted on components irrespective of their age in the system. Finally, a real-time observation of project execution method is proposed based on the several analysis steps developed within this thesis. The use of this method can be advantageous for practitioners to verify the progress of project and control deviations from plan. This thesis contributes directly to the stream of research of coordination in product development and contributes to the practice with new methods to help those involved in large-scale complex product development filter the extensive work done by many individuals and find areas of possible intervention.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Systems Division, 2010.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 107-116).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Engineering Systems Division.