Moving from Point-Based to Set-Based

Toyota (and their supplier Denso) are the classical examples of set-based concurrent engineering... and they did it without any software tools.  They used paper-based tools such as their engineering checksheets filled with hand-drawn limit and trade-off curves and other design knowledge.  However, they also relied heavily on their 10+ year functional managers and 20+ year chief engineers, with an army of engineers who grew up in a culture of set-based development, to make that work.  And thus it took Toyota decades to get to the levels of performance that they were exhibiting in the 1990's.

Fortunately, it is now possible to build software tools that can operate set-based for the early decision-making.  Coupled with tools designed for rapid (but ongoing) early learning and continuous improvement, those set-based tools can make it easier to operate set-based than point-based.

To enable set-based development, the tools need to:

  • Support early learning processes, such as LAMDA (Look-Ask-Model-Discuss-Act)
  • Support the Visual Models that enable LAMDA Discussion
  • Support, in particular, the visualization of limit and trade-off curves (the feasible sets)
  • Support deep causal analysis that ties decisions to the customer interests they may impact
  • Support identification of knowledge gaps
  • Support move to decision-pulled learning and planning
  • Support delaying decisions by gradually converging them, rather than selecting a single point
  • Support checksheets that capture the set-based knowledge standards and allow their continuous improvement by the people doing the work

Such tools can enable engineers to move from point-based to set-based development in a matter of days or a few weeks (rather than years or even decades).  tell me more

And the move from point-based to set-based can also lead to the move from premature decision-making that is inevitably based on intuition, wishful thinking, and endless debate:

turning point_no trnpt

to consensus decision-making based on knowledge that has been made visible to all:

turning point_no trnpt
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