The knowledge evolution framework : a knowledge management perspective on the impact of knowledge segregation on product development projects
Author(s)Chi, Jeffrey C. (Jeffrey Chien-Chuen)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
John R. Williams.
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Developing offerings faster, better and cheaper than competitors has become critical to success. In response to these commercial pressures, many industries have shifted from a sequential, functional development paradigm to a concurrent, team-based paradigm. Increasing the concurrence and cross-functional development, however, also dramatically increases the dynamic complexity of development projects. This is added complexity on top of the increasing technological complexity of offerings. Whilst traditional models based on tools such as the CPM and PERT have been used for the planning and management of such projects successfully in the past, the increase in complexity has shown that such tools are less capable of planning and predicting the outcome of projects. This is due to the dynamic nature of projects and the task-based approach used. Recent research using dynamic simulation tools such as system dynamics have indicated reasons that project duration and cost have been consistently underestimated. The differentiation is attributed to the ability of dynamic simulation tools to capture the iterative nature of work. Existing research has, however, concentrated on iteration as a result of errors, quality control and shifting targets. Although these factors do contribute to iteration, they seem almost exogenous factors where independent policies can be used to mitigate the need for iteration. Yet all texts on design and product development describe the process as an iterative one. There must, therefore, be some endogenous factors that result in an inherent need for iteration. With the level of complexity of projects, specialization becomes necessary. As a result, no individual within a project has 'lull" knowledge about the project and its current state of development. In other words, the information and knowledge is segregated to different parts of the project organization. This research proposes a shift towards a knowledge-evolution paradigm and uses it to investigate the impacts of such knowledge segregation on the performance of product development projects. This proposed framework acts, in part, to provide management levers and measurements in managing the knowledge within product development projects. These are measurements that the traditional task-based frameworks cannot directly provide. A dynamic simulation model of a development project with multiple persons was built using the system dynamics methodology. The model portrays the segregation of knowledge and studies its impact on the rate of development and iteration. The model was applied to projects with a scope defined by the Delta Design Game. Though simple, the Delta Design game provides the boundaries in understanding the interactions amongst participants in a typical process and has been used in the past primarily to demonstrate this aspect of design. The model simulation bore results that closely resembled real life behavior of the Delta Design project. The model was also applied to the investigation of differing policies for improved project performance. These policies include strategies involving conservatism in design, preemptive measures against iteration and reduction of knowledge segregation through the decoupling of the knowledge processes. The model structure provides insight as to the effectiveness of these strategies. The research finds that rework and iteration happens inherently in development projects and its prevalence is interwoven into the fabric of the system architecture and project organization structure. Finally, this research has shown value in the knowledge evolution paradigm by gathering insights through which task-based models could not. In so doing so, it is shown that there is value in developing this conc
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2001.Includes bibliographical references (p. 199-216).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Civil and Environmental Engineering.