, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 178-188

Effective practices in design transfer

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Abstract

The notion of transferring existing design solutions to new design problems is a basic one. Transfer provides a means of tackling increasing complexity, of limiting risks and costs, and of capitalizing on experience. In practice, in design organizations, it can be hard to judge the outcome of transfer because there can be several, often obscure benefits and drawbacks. This work is therefore an attempt to identify effective practices towards transfer on the part of designers and design managers. It is based on a qualitative analysis of 50 unstructured interviews carried out with members of two commercial design organizations. The practices were classified inductively in 15 main categories, of which the most heavily populated were associativity-improving, criteria-broadening, effort-reducing, environment-influencing, error-averting and motivation-addressing. The results have both a practical relevance (since most of the effective practices could be readily taught to novice designers) and a more theoretical relevance (showing what designers believe makes design transfer problematic).