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Acceptance Barriers Why Are Design Methods Not Accepted

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.52.1 - 4.52.8

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W. Ernst Eder

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2225

Acceptance Barriers -- Why are Design Methods Not Accepted

W. Ernst Eder Royal Military College of Canada


Industry and academe has not accepted newer design methods (e.g. Design Science), and does not know about them. The methods that industry accepts (e.g. TQM, QFD, Taguchi, and many more) are claimed as "industry best practice", and industry wants academe to accept these methods as the height of knowledge. An explanation for this delay in accepting "foreign" results (in both directions) is needed. The circumstances are very complex and interacting.

Design Science is an ordered, categorized and coordinated set of knowledge about designing (including knowledge about designers) and the objects being designed, a theory. For any use of methods based on Design Science, or any other methods, they must be adapted to problem and situation, to different kinds of product, and the peculiarities of the enterprise.

Engineering designers develop their own methods, usually from explanations and practice. Only when an engineering designer meets a novel problem outside his/her immediate experience are any more formal procedures and methods needed. Such methods must usually be known in advance of the need to use them. There is always a general resistance to change from previous familiar ways.

It is necessary for future engineering designers to learn methodology during their engineering education. German investigations have demonstrated the beneficial results of teaching formal design methodology.

1. Introduction

Designing and design theories, methodologies and methods have been under intensive investigation since about 1960 (compare chapter 3 in 1). In these investigations, several distinct trends can be found.

One, the artistic trend, claims that designing needs creativity (and only creativity?), that creativity is an inborn trait of particular humans, and that inspiration comes from an unknown source. In this way, the designer is unique, talented and privileged. Designing, in the extreme, cannot be taught or learned. Only a studio-type apprenticeship can reveal this design talent, and the teacher can only offer critical suggestions. Research about designing in this trend is almost non-existent, although a proportion of the current literature subscribes to this trend (e.g. 2). Many experienced designers make this claim, and state categorically that all design methods are useless, are counter-productive, and even destroy creativity. These self-observations need

Eder, W. E. (1999, June), Acceptance Barriers Why Are Design Methods Not Accepted Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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