Last month a group of engineers met secretly to reinvent the US economy one company at a time. Here are some of the players, maybe you’ve heard of them:
Alcoa, BAE, Boeing, Bose, Covidien, EMC, GE Medical, GE Transportation, Grundfos, ITT, Medrad, Medtronic, Microsoft, Motorola, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon, Samsung, Schneider Electric, Siemens, United Technologies, Westinghouse, Whirlpool.
Presenter after presenter the themes were the same: double profits, faster time to market, and better products – the triple crown of product development. Magic in a bottle, and still the best kept secret of the product development community. (No sense sharing the secret sauce when you can have it all for yourself.)
Microsoft used the secret sauce to increase profits of their hardware business by $75 million; Boeing recently elevated the secret methodology to the level of lean. Yet it’s still a secret.
What is this sauce that doubles profits without increasing sales? (That’s right, doubles.) What is this magic that decreases time to market? That reduces engineering documentation? That reduces design work itself? What is this growth strategy?
When trying to spread it on your company there are some obstacles, but the benefits should be enough to carry the day. First off, the secret sauce isn’t new, but double the profits should be enough to take a first bite. Second, its name doesn’t roll off the tongue (there’s no sizzle), but decreased time to market should justify a taste test. Last, design engineering must change its behavior (we don’t like to do that), but improved product functionality should be enough to convince engineering to swallow.
There are also two mapping problems: First, the sauce has been mapped to the wrong organization – instead of engineering it’s mapped to manufacturing, a group that, by definition, cannot do the work. (Only engineering can change the design.) Second, the sauce is mapped to the wrong word – instead of profit it’s mapped to cost. Engineering is praised for increased profits (higher function generates higher profits) and manufacturing is responsible for cost – those are the rules.
With double profits, reduced time to market, and improved product function, the name shouldn’t matter. But if you must know, its name is Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA), though I prefer to call it the secret sauce that doubles profits, reduces time to market, and improves product function.
Dr. Mike Shipulski (certfied TRIZ practioner) brings together the best of TRIZ, Axiomatic Design, Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (2006 DFMA Contributor of the Year), and lean to develop new products and technologies. His blog can be found at Shipulski On Design.