Design sprint for complex system architecture analysis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


  • Katja Hölttä-Otto

  • Valtteri Niutanen
  • Steven Eppinger
  • Tyson R. Browning
  • H. Mike Stowe
  • Riku Lampinen
  • Andhikaputra Rahardjo

Research units

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Texas Christian University
  • P5DC
  • KONE Corporation Finland


A rigorous, in-depth analysis is a common approach in complex system design. Elsewhere, however, more iterative and agile processes and open innovation have become commonplace. We experiment with an agile hackathon-type design sprint for solving industry-provided, complex system engineering problems. In a typical complex system project, significant domain expertise is expected and only one in-depth analysis is typically conducted to make recommendations for a given problem. The question we explore is whether a quick sprint with non-domain experts can result in useful insights for further analysis. We tasked seven teams in parallel to conduct analysis and suggest recommendations for a given company case in only a few hours. The industry challenge was to propose system changes that would mitigate risks due to the long lifecycle of the system and long time from order to delivery. The teams were given two a priori decomposed design structure matrices, representing the product architecture at two levels of granularity, as well as access to several analysis tools. The design sprint resulted in seven sets of recommendations, each with unique insights. The results and their variety highlighted the type of recommendations any given analysis direction would give if pursued further. It provided insights about the many different ways to potentially address the given challenge. As expected, it also highlighted the difficulty of analysis due to lack of detailed system knowledge. Nevertheless, the sprint was considered successful and meaningful as well as an effective means to augment traditional complex system analysis.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication30th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference - Quebec City, Canada
Duration: 26 Aug 201829 Aug 2018
Conference number: 30


ConferenceASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
Abbreviated titleIDETC/CIE
CityQuebec City

ID: 30230228