Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 133–153 | Cite as

Sources of creativity stimulation for designing the next generation of technical systems: correlations with R&D designers’ performance

  • Sara SaliminaminEmail author
  • Niccolo Becattini
  • Gaetano Cascini
Original Paper


This paper presents the outcomes of an exploratory research to clarify the performance of R&D designers when involved in design task for the ideation of the next generation of a technical system. The research aims also at clarifying if creative stimuli play a role in supporting ideation after idea generativity decreases because of natural exhaustion or the emergence of fixation. The effect of precedents (singular as patents, and structural as technology evolution trends), as well as design strategies (in the form of a design procedure for inventive problem solving) on idea generation, is compared by means of an experiment involving 24 R&D Iranian engineers. Precedents demonstrated to be more effective than design strategies in supporting productivity in idea generation, while generally they are not effective enough to support the generation of candidate ideas for the next generation of a technical system with a robust repeatability. The main recorded lacks depend on the capabilities of creative stimuli to support the generation of novel ideas, as they are generally effective in providing good results with reference to technical plausibility and relevance for a target audience. The results of the experiment are also discussed with reference to the efficiency of the design process (number of generated ideas per time unit). The outcomes of such studies, as part of a broader research objective, serve as input to support the development of a serious game to support R&D engineers to face design tasks for the next generation of technical systems with higher motivation and engagement, providing them with an improved design experience.


Technological shifts Radical innovation Novelty Creative stimuli Design precedent Design strategies Design models 



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© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Saliminamin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Niccolo Becattini
    • 1
  • Gaetano Cascini
    • 1
  1. 1.Politecnico di MilanoMilanItaly

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