Table of Contents
- 1 The Systems Engineering Method
- 2 Searching for Creative Solutions
- 3 Brainstorming (or Brainwriting) Approach
- 4 Attribute (Properties) Listing
- 5 Lateral Thinking
- 6 Forced Relationship Technique
- 7 Different Point of View
- 8 Different Point of View by Robert Frost
- 9 Overcoming Obstacles to Creative Thinking
- 10 Reference Material
- 11 Appendix A – Brainstorming Checklist
The Systems Engineering Method
- Customer Expectations (Project Objectives and Mission Profile)
- High Level Requirements (Level 1 Program/Project)
- Functional and Logical decompositions (Project WBS)
- Trade Studies and Iterative Design Loop
- Form Creative Design Solution (System PBS)
- Define Level 2 System and Subsystem Requirements
- Make Hardware and/or Software Model(s) and Perform Experiments
- Organize and Analyze Data
- Does Functional & Performance Analysis show design will meet Functional Design and concept of operations (ConOps) Requirements?
- If additional detail need, Repeat Process
- Select a preferred design
- Does the system work (performance)?
- Is the system achievable within cost and schedule constraints?
- If the answer is no, adjust Customer’s Expectations (Step 1) and start again.
- Communicate Results (PDR and CDR)
- Preparing presentations (PDR and CDR)
- Reports, plans, and specifications. (Project Planning)
- Implement the design. (Project Implementation)
Searching for Creative Solutions
Once you have Identifying the real problem and gathered needed Information it is time to search for “original” creative solutions.
- Here are several techniques to help you and your team produce original creative ideas.
- Ideas may come from creativity, a subconscious effort, or innovation, a conscious effort.
- The objective is to break the set patterns of thought that everyone develops (i.e., team’s thinking tends to fall into ruts).
Brainstorming (or Brainwriting) Approach
Attribute (Properties) Listing
- Step 1 – List the major attributes or properties of a product, object, or idea – The fish bones
- Step 2 – For each attribute, Brainstorm how each of the attributes could be changed.
 For more on this topic Google the keyword “The Fishbone Diagram.”
Quality, Property, Character, Attribute
Attribute mean an intelligible feature by which a thing may be identified. Quality is a general term applicable to any trait or characteristic whether individual or generic
quality> . Property implies a characteristic that belongs to a thing’s essential nature and may be used to describe a type or species property of not conducting heat>. Character applies to a peculiar and distinctive quality of a thing or a class character>. Attribute implies a quality ascribed to a thing or a being attributes of a military hero>. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
- For example, how can we improve the design of a cell phone?
Color Could …
- Be Any color
- Be transparent
- Utilize designs such as plaid
- Have a personalized design (skinit)
Input Device Could be…
- 10-push-button design
- Could be lever system
- Could use an abacus-type system
- Could be push buttons arranged in a line
Make the Shape
Edward de Bono developed the lateral thinking techniques of random stimulation and using other people’s views to generate ideas during brainstorming. Lateral thinking provides new ways to come at a problem and get “unstuck.” We will look at two:
- Forced Relationship Technique
- Different Point of View
Forced Relationship Technique
Different Point of View
- Imagine yourself in the future; “What are the characteristics of an ideal solution?” even if not technically feasible today.
- Imagine a similar problem located on a strange planet or in free fall.
- Try to identify with the stone that is to be crushed, or the fruit that is going to be peeled.
- Pretend that common materials or components are not available or that certain exceptional ones are.
- Try to project how nature would do it.
- The methods are endless.
 If you would like to learn more on this technique, Google the keyword “Futuring.”
Different Point of View by Robert Frost
Overcoming Obstacles to Creative Thinking
Here are a few more specific actions and attitudes that can be employed to overcome obstacles to creative thinking:
- Avoid placing unnecessary constraints on the problem being solved.
- Search for different ways to view the problem, avoiding preconceived beliefs and stereotypical thinking.
- Recognize that there are non-engineering solutions to many problems. Consider approaches that other disciplines might use.
- Look for relationships that are remote and solutions that are unusual and nontraditional.
- Most creative thought involves putting experiences and thoughts into new patterns and arrangements.
- Divide complex problems into manageable parts and concentrate on solving one part at a time.
- Allow time for incubation, after periods of intensive concentration – sleep on it
- Be open to a variety of problem-solving strategies.
- Introduction to Engineering Design and problem Solving, The Summer Institute for Engineering and Technology Education, University of Arkansas 1995.
- University of Arkansas – A Collection of Engineering Design Problems [2009 Edition] This document also introduces “The Design Loop”
- University of Michigan – Strategies for Creative Problem Solving
- Downloaded and installed first module – Brainstorming
- University Of Michigan Chapter 4 – The First Four Steps
- University Of Michigan Chapter 5 – Problem Definition Techniques
- University Of Michigan Chapter 6 – Breaking Down the Barriers to Generating Ideas
- University Of Michigan Chapter 7 – Generating Solutions (a lot of branches from this material)
- University Of Michigan Chapter 8 – Deciding the Course of Action
- University Of Michigan Chapter 9 – Implementing the Solutions
Appendix A – Brainstorming Checklist
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