Combining The Scenario Technique With QFD And TRIZ To A Product Innovation Methodology

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Combining The Scenario Technique With QFD And TRIZ To A Product Innovation Methodology

Elke Baessler, Thomas Breuer, Markus Grawatsch,
Fraunhofer Institute of Production Technology IPT, Aachen, Germany


The Scenario Technique, Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and TRIZ are some of the most popular methodologies for product planning and are used in many companies for the product planning process nowadays. Thereby most of the companies use these methodologies isolated from each other yet. Scenario Technique is engaged in forecasting the development of markets or branches. QFD is used in translating the customers needs to the engineers language. TRIZ helps analysing and solving inventive problems.

Each of these methodologies has its place in the product development process. But using them isolated keeps gaps between the different methods. Accordingly lacking input information are replaced with assumptions, which are not founded on any systematic derivation.

At Fraunhofer IPT a concept has been developed, that combines scenario technique with quality function deployment and TRIZ. Using this concept the three methodologies dovetail to an enhanced approach. Output information of the scenario analysis are used as input for QFD and the application of TRIZ is based on the results of the QFD.

The paper describes the theoretical proceeding how to combine the three methodologies in the product innovation process and demonstrates the practical suitability by a case study.

1. Introduction

The predominate assumption in research and industry is to generate a vast amount of ideas in order to result in one successful innovation. However it is agreed about the positive correlation between the grade of innovation and the profit margin. According to results of current studies the numerousness of created ideas does not essentially lead to successful innovations (1, 6). Even though one rarely complains about the lack of ideas, slim company structures result in restricted developmental resources, which allow only very few ideas to be launched into the market. Therefore, based on uncertain or missing information wrong decisions are made in very early stages, leading to high capital investment concerning personnel and material in later stages for erroneous ideas (4).

In the future one needs the competence to select the superior ideas at once right from the beginning to be able to enhance the efficiency of the product innovation management (4).

2. Process of Innovation - The W-Model

Due to these reflections, the Fraunhofer IPT developed a process of innovation - the so called W-Model (4). It integrates seven procedure-stages: Defining Objectives, Analysing Future, Generating Ideas, Valuing Ideas, Detailing Ideas, Valuing Concepts and Transfer, cf. figure 1.

Figure 1: Process of Innovation - The W-Model (4)

Within the Defining Objectives stage strategic guidelines and innovation targets have to either be defined or deduced by superior company strategies. The following Analysing Future aims for the companies innovation potentials and the formulation of innovation tasks. Subsequently stage three Generating Ideas leads from the identified innovation potentials to concrete product ideas. Valuing Ideas aspires the identification of promising product ideas. Besides the evaluation concerning market and technology aspects the strategic conformity and the value for the company has to be reviewed. Within Detailing Ideas further market and technology information for selected product ideas are acquired in order to develop product concepts. The following Valuing Concepts includes the quantitative evaluation in form of a cost-benefit analysis of the in stage five developed product concepts. The last stage of the W-Model is the Transfer of the created product concepts into a company’s activity program for the long-term future - The so called InnovationRoadMap (4).

The different stages of the W-Model are divided into sub-procedures. In practice methods and aids are assigned to these sub-procedures, supporting their performance, i.e. the systematic development of the required information.

The systematic and especially complete application of the presented innovation process requires the conjunction of methods used in single sub-procedures. A possible conjunction of methods will be shown in the following connecting scenario technique, QFD and TRIZ.

3. Scenario Technique, QFD, TRIZ

In principle a variety of methods and tools can be used to fulfil the different tasks of the procedures stages (4). Obviously the scenario technique, Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and TRIZ are extremely suitable tools particularly within the early stages of the product innovation process.

Here by especially stage two and three, Analysing Future and Generating Ideas offer themselves for the application of these techniques. The Analysing Future determines after the analysis of general trends and trends of selected fields of activity their effect on the company in form of future projections. Fields of activity are domains with high potentials for permanent competitive advantage. Based upon these future projections and the company’s core competencies, innovation potentials, which have to correspond with future development of the market- and/or technology will be derived. The Analysing Future therefore results in company-based innovation potentials and innovation tasks. Stage two, Generating Ideas, produces a considerable variety of ideas for problems and solutions against the background of derived innovation potentials which are able to withstand future requirements. Problem ideas are characterised by the need or demand for a not yet described solution of an existing problem, respectively a problem that will occur in the future. Whereas solution ideas describe principle technical solutions, which show additional potential for future fields of application. Product ideas arise through the combination of a problem idea with at least one solution idea (4).

The Scenario Technique is a powerful method for Analysing Future. Building on the two main principles, systems- and future-open thinking, a scenario can be defined as a generally intelligible description of a possible situation in the future, based on a complex network of influence factors (5, 7). It regards enterprises as embedded in a complex network of influences and takes different sights of the future into account. The scenario is created starting from the current company’s situation, within the Scenario-Field Analysis major influence factors are defined as so-called key factors. The following step the Scenario-Prognostic suggests possible changes of these factors in the future. The Scenario-Transfer summarises different projections of the key factors in their extreme specifications to different scenarios (7, 8).

Whereas QFD is a well known and structured technique for product development or improvement, it can be used in both stages in Analysing Future as well as in Generating Ideas. QFD emphasises active customer participation and mainly translates and assesses customer requirements into technical specifications and demands (2).

TRIZ as a classical and powerful method to generate extraordinary solutions for any kind of inventive problem (4, 9, 10, 11) can clearly be used within stage three (Generating Ideas) of the W-Model (3).

Nevertheless leaves the individual and unconnected use of these effective methods gaps in between. Accordingly lacking input information are replaced with assumptions, which are not founded on any systematic derivation.

4. Combination of Scenario Technique, QFD and TRIZ

Companies rarely launch totally new business segments, in general a new product has a current counterpart including a QFD analysis. The current QFD contains today’s customer requirements as well as their relative importance to each other and translates them into technical requirements. The relative weighting of the technical requirements together with the correlation matrix indicate the most important technical requirements and therefore define the resulting product design. Problems occur to obtain future customer requirements for a follower product. How future customer requirements will vary is a major uncertainty. Wrong assumptions easily lead to unsuccessful products in future markets.

Using the scenario technique allows the deduction of changes within the future QFD. Referring to the existing product a decision field is defined. The global environment is assembled by Spheres of Influence which cover aspects of politics, economy, society and technology.

Changes inside different spheres may have varying impact on key factors which again precede to modifications of customer requirements leading to various importance within the QFD. Variances regarding modified relevance or even loss or new occurrence of customer requirements sum up to changes in weighting of technical requirements.

For future products the alternation of technical requirements may lead to different most important technical requirements. This very often causes also an emphasis shift of the technical conflicts leading to a different main conflict than in the current product. New main conflicts hence induce changed requirements for the product design.

Main conflicts can be solved with suggested TRIZ solutions such as the four principles for eliminating physical contradictions or the forty innovation principles to solve technical contradictions (10).

The introduced product innovation method is very powerful since it prevents the occurrence of uncertainties as can be detected by individual use of Scenario Techniques, QFD and TRIZ.

Figure 2: Integrated concept for the use of Scenario Technique, QFD and TRIZ

5. Case study

The newly introduced product innovation method has been exemplary applied to develop a trend setting vacuum cleaner. Figure 3 shows the House of Quality for the current product illustrating the current customer and technical requirements and their importance weighting.

Figure 3: House of Quality - vacuum cleaner, presently on the market.

Starting from this point the influencing spheres for the vacuum cleaner within the global environment are determined. They can be differentiated in specific and general spheres. The specific spheres of influence according to the vacuum cleaner are for example the hygienic behaviour and the living situation. Economy and environment are examples of general spheres of influence. As described above the major influence factors are defined as key factors. Some key factors are summarised in figure 4.

Figure 4: Spheres of influence and derived key factors

Each key factor may vary in different directions in the future. Therefore, the projection of their extremes leads to two major characteristic (cf. figure 5). Time for household activities e.g. might either increase or decrease. Whereas the room size per person might also vary between expansion or reduction.

Figure 5: Foresight

Referring to the projection of the different key factors the projections are summarised to scenarios. According to the investigated key factors the two different scenarios “high tech” and “health, nature” have been developed. Both of them are shown in figure 6. Assuming that the time for household activities might decrease while the room size per person increases, the relevance of the customer requirement “fast cleaning” will amplify significantly (cf. Figure 5). This aspect is assigned to the scenario high tech.

Figure 6: Setting high-tech, careless and setting nature, health.

As illustrated in figure 7, the QFD has been adjusted, based on the different scenarios. Compared to the current QFD the relative importance of the customer requirement “small size” e.g. increased within setting high-tech from three to five, whereas a decline to one can be recognised within setting nature. The change of the QFD for the setting high-tech leads to a new main conflict between size and filter bag volume. Due to the changes for the setting health the main conflict transforms to surface of nozzle and power.

Figure 7: House of Quality for both future settings

In both cases the product design has to be realigned due to the changed main conflicts. The occurring conflicts can be solved using the TRIZ methodology, cf. figure 8.

The solution for the setting high-tech was solved using the principles for eliminating physical contradiction, whereas the solution for the setting health was found using the inventive principles for technical contradictions.

Figure 8: technical solutions

5. Conclusion

It has been shown how three methods used within the product development process have been combined, leaving no uncertainties or assumption in between. Goal of the Fraunhofer IPT is the further specification of this approach and the integration of further methods in the product innovation process as introduced by the W-model. Within the lately launched BMBF funded research project “strategic product and process planning” sets of methods are especially developed for small and medium-sized enterprises. To guarantee a further distribution of the TRIZ methodology it is essential to co-operate with other existing or newly developed methods of the innovation process.


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