Department of Management

Application of design thinking to product-configuration projects

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Sara Shafiee, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark
  • Anders Haug, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • Saeedeh Shafiee Kristensen
  • Lars Hvam, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark

Purpose: Product configurators are expert systems that support product customization by defining how predefined entities and their properties may be combined. Developers of configuration systems act as designers, although they do not often recognize that they are performing as such. Moreover, exploring solution spaces is typically not integral to configuration projects, as this task is typically perceived as mapping existing knowledge to the configurator. This article argues that developing configurators may be understood by distinguishing between the problem and solution spaces using design thinking (DT). Design/methodology/approach: A multiple-case-study approach with four configuration projects is adopted to study two projects involving DT and compare them to two similar projects not involving DT. Data collection depended on multiple data sources via workshops and semi-structured interviews. Findings: First, DT methods and concept–knowledge (C-K) theory are integrated into configuration projects. Second, the application of DT during configurator development is presented through workshops and interviews, which demonstrates the benefits of DT in overcoming existing challenges. Research limitations/implications: The case studies demonstrate the successful implementation of DT in developing configurators. However, a limited number of cases in only one company limits the generalizability of the results. Practical implications: The framework's individual steps create a structured approach to supporting industrial companies with a toolbox of DT techniques and methods for configuration projects. Originality/value: The results show that the application of DT to configuration projects can improve user motivation, stakeholder satisfaction and knowledge acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Technology Management
Pages (from-to)219-241
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

    Research areas

  • Configurator, Design thinking, Knowledge management, Problem, Product configuration, Solution space

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