June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.445.1 - 15.445.11
Effects of an Early Prototyping Experience on the Innovation Process:
Can Design Fixation Be Avoided? Abstract It has been well established that introduction of physical artifacts early in the design process can limit the potential solution set in terms of diversity, innovation and number of ideas generated. This limiting effect is known as “design fixation.” While the potential for design fixation exists, concrete, tangible, and physical perceptions of the design task may also be very beneficial during the ideation process. For example, it may increase the feasibility of the concepts generated. Physical testing of preliminary ideas may enable such perceptions. The objective of the study reported in this paper was to understand, at least at the basic and preliminary levels, the role of physical testing and artifacts in the early stages of the design process. To this end, the contemporary design process was augmented with an Early Prototyping Experience (EPE), where the intent was to increase critical understanding of the design problem while maintaining the innovativeness and diversity of the concepts. An experiment was undertaken which included the use of a “control” group that did not participate in the EPE, as well as the “experimental” group that did develop an early prototype. The output from a concept generation exercise for the two groups was rated by experts to determine the level of innovation, diversity and feasibility of the ideas. Experts’ ratings for innovativeness and diversity were very similar between the control and experimental groups indicating that, in these two areas, design fixation was not evident. However, results indicated that the experimental group did experience some level of fixation based on the fact that they generated 30% less unique ideas than did the control group. Feasibility of the ideas was, however, much higher for the experimental group. Because of these mixed results concerning design fixation and the fact that there are other potential benefits of early prototyping, it remains a point of discussion as to whether the EPE has an overall negative or positive effect on the design process.
1.0 Overview and Purpose Design fixation is a state where the results of the ideation or concept generation process have been degraded; such degradation normally occurs in the areas of innovativeness, diversity or number of ideas generated. While many causes for this design fixation have been identified, the introduction of physical or visual artifacts is one of the most common causes [1-7]. However, there may also be significant benefits to the introduction of embodiments early in the design process. Benefits might include better initial understanding of the feasibility of certain solutions or the uncovering of hidden latent customer needs.
The purpose of this paper is to ascertain the impact of incorporating EPE into the design process. The concepts developed by the experimental and control groups were compared to determine if fixation or other pertinent issues existed, particularly with regard to the quantity, diversity, and innovativeness of the concepts generated. Additionally, feasibility of the concepts was also
Walker, V., & Jensen, D., & Crider, K., & Weaver, J., & Wood, K., & Maixner, M. (2010, June), Effects Of An Early Prototyping Experience: Can Design Fixation Be Avoided? Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16806
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