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In this issue, an IISE member weighs in on the June article about set-based design written by Stefan Rudolf and Bastian Luedtke of the Department of Innovation Management at the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL), RWTH Aachen University in Germany.


Three takes on set-based design

Three comments to the authors of the engaging article, "Set-based Design for Success" (June 2016):

First, the survey methodology, involving a considerable number of organizations in five sectors, is impressive as early-stage research. No doubt you realize, however, that the “Triple Winner” results (Figure 3) provide only weak evidence of efficacy: That “champions” outperformed “followers” in beating planned budgets, on-time completions and duration of project development could merely mean that the champions planned lower costs and quicker completions and were adept at achieving them.

Did set-based design reduce real, not just budgeted costs and time to launch new products? That question would require comparing unlike projects, which may not be feasible except over a long time horizon.

Second, it was confusing to see “set-based design” in the article’s title, and then to read on the second page that the questionnaire study was titled “The Lean Advantage in Engineering.”

Third, since the article presents a methodology that is not widely familiar, it would have been helpful to include references and a brief explanation of set-based design.

Richard J. Schonberger
Independent researcher/author/speaker
Bellevue, Washington

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