Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Conference Panel: IBM's Watson and the Rise of Analytics

By Eric Smalley

Irving Wladawsky-Berger
When IBM's Watson supercomputer bested the top two human competitors in a widely viewed bout of the Jeopardy TV game show in January, many observers saw an example of technology displacing people. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, however, saw the dawning of an age when powerful analytical tools like Watson will augment virtually every facet of human intellectual endeavor.

Wladawsky-Berger, vice president emeritus at IBM and a visiting lecturer in the Sloan School of Management and MIT's Engineering Systems Division (ESD), is scheduled to lead a panel discussion on information analytics at the 2011 MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges this month. The discussion, titled "IBM's Watson, Analytics, and the Implications for Industry and Society," will explore the impact such highly advanced tools are likely to have on a range of disciplines, including healthcare, finance, and education.

In the last few years we have seen incredible advances in information analytics, which involve processing large amounts of information with sophisticated algorithms running on powerful supercomputers, said Wladawsky-Berger. "The implications of having these powerful new analytic tools are really deep, and they go everywhere," he said.

When any powerful new technology arises, the key questions are how people use it and how it changes what people do, said Wladawsky-Berger. "How can we leverage these incredible advances in technology for business value, to raise the standard of living and the quality of life in our societies, to empower individuals so they can do a better job?"

These tools can have a big impact in healthcare. "Capture the world's top medical centers' expertise and distribute it via tools like Watson to a large number of physicians and healthcare workers, and you can significantly improve the overall quality of healthcare," said Wladawsky-Berger.

Katharine Frase, vice president of Industry Solutions and Emerging Business at IBM Research, will begin the panel discussion with an overview of Watson, including its application in healthcare.

Visiting ESD scholar David Hartzband will talk about advanced analytic tools in healthcare. Hartzband has a long history in academia and industry. His current work focuses on healthcare information technology.

SDM alumnus Doug Hague, small business analytics executive in Consumer and Small Business Banking at Bank of America, will talk about advanced analytic tools in finance. Hague leads a team that analyzes business performance, client behaviors, and strategic initiatives.

Financial services companies have long had an interest in analytic tools. "Risk management, identity management, security, those are all incredibly important questions to the world of finance," said Wladawsky-Berger.

Building these complex tools, not surprisingly, requires systems thinking. "The only way this can truly work is to take a holistic view of the problems we're trying to attack," he said.

Building these tools is as much about people as technology, concluded Wladawsky-Berger. "A lot of the design is about the interplay between the technology and the people who use it. What kinds of technologies and capabilities are the most useful? What kinds of tools would help [people] do a much better job?"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Addressing Blindness via Cell Phones - SDM Pulse, Fall 2011

Prototype phone with
EyeCatra device attached
and results shown on screen.

Problem statement: According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in mid- and low income countries. India has the largest number of blind people globally—15 million—yet there is only one doctor for every 100,000 people, leaving the majority of cataract cases undetected.
Goal: To improve early cataract detection and free up the limited number of ophthalmologists to concentrate on surgery.
Solution: EyeCatra, a portable self-evaluation eye diagnostic tool that attaches to a cell phone and uses a light-scattering technique to scan and map the eye for cataracts. It can be used in rural homes, schools, pharmacies, and health clinics.
SDM contribution: SDM ’11 students Vivin Nath, Nirmalya Banerjee, and Rupreet Singh Soni are part of the EyeCatra team.
This cell phone display shows two maps of a patient's eye created
by an EyeCatra scan. The first is an opacity map that shows
binary information (does or does not have) regarding cataracts
for each section of the lens. The second is an attenuation map
created by measuring the brightness of two alternating
paths of light through the lens.

Addressing Blindness via Cell Phones - SDM Pulse Fall 2011

Prototype phone with
EyeCatra device
attached and results
shown on screen.
Problem statement: According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in mid- and lowincome countries. India has the largest number of blind people globally—15 million—yet there is only one doctor for every 100,000 people, leaving the majority of cataract cases undetected.
Goal: To improve early cataract detection and free up the limited number of ophthalmologists to concentrate on surgery.
Solution: EyeCatra, a portable self-evaluation eye diagnostic tool that attaches to a cell phone and uses a light-scattering technique to scan and map the eye for cataracts. It can be used in rural homes, schools, pharmacies, and health clinics.
SDM contribution: SDM ’11 students Vivin Nath, Nirmalya Banerjee, and Rupreet Singh Soni are part of the EyeCatra team.
This cell phone display shows two maps of a patient's eye created by an
EyeCatra scan. The first is an opacity map that shows binary information (does or
does not have) regarding cataracts for each section of the lens. The second is an
attenuation map created by measuring the brightness of two alternating paths of
light through the lens.

SDM Education Delivers Value to Graduates and Their Employers

Editor's note: Whether sponsored by their employers or self-sponsored, SDM graduates find many ways to apply their master's degrees in engineering and management to add value to their companies—and to further their careers.
Bringing Start-up Mojo to an Established Company

Mark Moran, SDM '09
Manager of Portfolio Management and Marketing Operations for Enterprise Advanced Marketing
Sponsored by John Deere, major manufacturer of agricultural machinery

I have had opportunities to work on innovative projects throughout my career in information technology (IT) at John Deere. But, the new job I've taken on with my SDM education enables me to work on innovation at a global level while making meaningful contributions to the company's innovation strategy.

Many companies artificially decouple two key disciplines—marketing and engineering—but they are actually different sides of the same coin. Part of what makes start-ups successful is the interaction among different disciplines. Unfortunately, many big companies find it hard to maintain that interaction as they grow, because they must focus on specialization and efficiencies of scale and scope.

John Deere sponsored my SDM education to help improve its ability to innovate, and I am delighted that this new post gives me the chance to capture some of the energy of a start-up for the company. As a member of the Enterprise Advanced Marketing department, I am helping to identify and develop opportunities that our operational business units are unlikely to fund for various reasons, including being high in risk or cross-divisional in nature.

As an SDM graduate, I wanted a job that would take me far outside my comfort zone and my roots in enterprise IT. I also wanted a role with enterprise-wide, global responsibilities to stretch myself as a manager and a leader. Developing an enterprise capability that deeply integrates both marketing and engineering was also appealing. And, I believed I would never have a better chance to make a big change than after receiving my master's degree.

Already, I'm putting the skills, tools, and methods I learned in SDM to good use. For example:
  • Leading our project and program managers more effectively by utilizing the design structure matrix, critical path method/critical chain, and risk management tools from Associate Professor Olivier de Weck's System Project Management class.
  • Studying whether option theory is a better way to value an innovation portfolio than net present value.
  • Using system dynamics and causal loop diagrams to understand and explain the interactions of complex systems.
  • Drawing on what I learned under Professor of the Practice Deborah Nightingale and Ford Professor of Engineering Edward F. Crawley to deconstruct complex system architecture into its building blocks and analyze the subsystems.
The Next YouTube?

Blade Kotelly, SDM '10
CEO and Entrepreneur
1Minute40Seconds, a video content platform provider

If I hadn't gone to SDM, I would never have risked starting my own business. I had been teaching the subject of innovation for years—first at Tufts and later at MIT—but SDM gave me the tools to take an idea to the level of action. When I took Senior Lecturer Shalom Saar's course in leadership and shared my idea with him, he told me, "You've got to start a company." I took his advice.

1Minute40Seconds helps people create video content online easily and quickly. As CEO, I do everything—hire, strategize, figure out how to get investors, and create marketing materials. The job involves a lot of strategy work and execution, and it also requires systems thinking—a grounded, quantitative means of figuring out how to get all of the pieces working together effectively.

Interestingly, I didn't know how I would use my SDM education when I joined the program. I figured that I'd learn some techniques and make some networking contacts—and I did. But, I have benefited more than I ever expected. For example, when I first started my business, there was a period before I signed my first investor that was very, very scary. At that time, it really helped to have the framework to recognize what was going on and to see the uncertainty unfolding—something I learned the very first week at SDM in a class called the Human Side of Technology with Senior Lecturer Ralph Katz.

I've also found that Sloan Management Review Professor in Management Michael A. Cusumano's lessons on the business of software have enabled me to speak credibly about the industry to my investors. Cusumano taught us how to understand the value of a platform, versus just an application, and that has shaped the way I have considered launching my product. In addition, my accounting class with Senior Lecturer Scott Keating has proved critical in determining how to charge for this software service. Of course, it's impossible to overstate the value of the MIT brand when it comes to getting venture capitalists (VCs) on the phone.

I have now secured 1Minute40Seconds' first round of VC funding. The next step is to raise more money, hire permanent employees, and start making sales. I'm jumping down on the diving board now, and we'll see how high up I can go. It's exciting.

Making Greater Contributions at Higher Levels

Matt Harper, SDM '10
Vice President, Products and Services
Prudent Energy Corporation, a clean energy storage company

At Prudent, my new job spans the company's entire set of products and services and encompasses the full product life cycle. My responsibilities include product definition, corporate development, customer alignment, sales support, and communications management.

To do my job properly, I need to maintain a holistic view of the company's goals at all times. This is the biggest lesson I learned in SDM: organizations and the products they deliver exist as part of an incredibly complex ecosystem—and the people in these organizations need to understand the whole product and business ecosystem to see where their greatest leverage lies within that landscape.

I've recently been spending time structuring Prudent's product delivery organization, relying heavily on the enterprise architecture framework taught by Principal Research Scientist Donna Rhodes and Professor of the Practice of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems Deborah Nightingale in SDM. Though my company is still fairly small, Prudent is a highly complex organization. Its workforce is dispersed across three continents and corporate functions that span fundamental materials research and development, systems engineering, chemical process design, hardware manufacturing, software development, and sales and market development.

To ensure that our organization functions correctly, we need to apply basic systems principles and evaluate how knowledge, products, intellectual property, culture, and customer value originate and flow through the organization. It's an interesting challenge!

Before coming to SDM, I managed the product development program for one of Prudent's product lines and supported marketing and sales initiatives primarily from a technical perspective. This new job has proved a great fit, particularly coming from SDM, as it depends on building links between technical and nontechnical disciplines and stakeholders—that is, the entire business ecosystem.

Transitioning to Agile Development

Avi Latner, SDM '10
Product Manager
Jumptap, a targeted mobile advertising company

As product manager at Jumptap, I am responsible for the success of the company's performance and network product, tapMatch. That means balancing the needs of stakeholders: customers, sales, engineering, business development, and finance; finding the best solutions to address those needs; and then setting priorities straight. My day-to-day work involves a combination of product design, data analysis, and general management tasks.

Jumptap is now in the process of transitioning to agile development, so I am relying on lessons I learned in SDM's class on engineering software concepts, taught by Professor Nancy Leveson. In that course, we examined software development processes, and I gained a much broader and balanced perspective on agile design than I would have by simply reading a training book. The material taught by Professor David Simchi-Levi in System Optimization has also proved very relevant, as optimization algorithms are at the heart of Jumptap's platform.

Before matriculating at SDM, I worked for big companies in a fairly mature industry—financial software. For example, I designed a system for Bank Hapoalim in Israel that aggregates millions of transactions to calculate profitability across all lines of business. Through SDM classes such as Technology Strategy, taught by Professor James M. Utterback, I learned that different industries have different phases of maturity and that most product innovation occurs in the early stages of industries that arise from a disruptive technology. Therefore, I decided to work at a start-up that was leaping into a new market. Targeted mobile advertising is in its early stages and is growing at an astonishing rate.

In addition, I am working evenings and weekends on a social medical device venture, a project that got started at MIT. After qualifying as track finalists in MIT's $100K Competition, my partners and I won MIT's Technology Dissemination Fellowship. We have since hired two interns, and our endoscope camera is already being used by a nongovernmental organization in Kenya. For this venture, the most useful course was Product Design and Development—taught by SDM Fellows Program Director Pat Hale and Robert N. Noyce Career Development Assistant Professor Maria C. Yang—which expanded my understanding of prototyping, patent research, and more. If I had not taken this SDM course, our team would not have won the fellowship.

This report was compiled by Kathryn O'Neill, managing editor, SDM Pulse.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

SDM Timeline - SDM Pulse Fall 2011

The MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program is co-founded by Professor Thomas L. Magnanti of the MIT Sloan School of Management and Professor Edward F. Crawley of the MIT School of Engineering. The program is piloted with 11 students.
SDM admits inaugural class of 35 students. It is MIT's first master's program with an option for distance learners, who are able to take MIT classes using videoconferencing, videotape, and web-assisted instruction.
Toyota begins sales of the Prius, the world's first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car.
This year was the deadline set by the Institute of Medicine for implementation of electronic medical health record keeping. While such records are now widespread, they are not yet universal.
The first class enters the SDM Graduate Certificate in Systems and Product Development program. Initially a partnership between SDM and United Technologies Corporation, the certificate program has expanded over the years to serve students from other companies and interests.
Novartis receives FDA approval to market Gleevec, a targeted cancer therapy that becomes a blockbuster drug.
SDM alumni hold their first conference, themed “Leadership in a Complex and Changing Business Environment.”
John Deere enters partnership with Home Depot to sell its signature green and yellow lawn tractors via a mass channel for the first time.
Apple launches iTunes, leading to the concept of integrated music delivery and use. This fundamentally changes the music business for both the industry and consumers.
SDM begins providing career services to its self-funded students.
Pat Hale is appointed director of the SDM Fellows Program.
SDM marks 10th year. Initially grounded in engineering, the program has expanded to include students from the financial, business, high-tech, and military sectors.
Nintendo unveils the Wii home video game console, making a distinct departure from previous video games by introducing a wireless controller along with games that get users up and moving.
Apple releases the iPhone, essentially a pocket-sized computer with a revolutionary touch-screen interface.
Pat Hale becomes president of the International Council on Systems Engineering.
Keio University in Japan launches its Graduate School of System Design and Management patterned on SDM.
SDM sponsors the MIT Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges, an outgrowth of the alumni-only conference now open to all.
The Society of Women Engineers presents SDM with a certificate of appreciation.
MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series launched.
SDM joins the Master of Engineering Management Programs Consortium.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Reflecting on 15 Years of System Design and Management - SDM Pulse Fall 2011

By Pat Hale, Director, SDM Fellows Program

Late in 1995, just after becoming Otis Elevator Company’s first director of systems engineering, I was told that our parent company’s corporate director of education wanted me to meet someone from the MIT Sloan School of Management to talk about educating product development engineers. That was the start of my personal journey with the System Design and Management (SDM) program.
Professor Thomas L. Magnanti explained that he and Professor Edward F. Crawley of the MIT School of Engineering were gathering stakeholder needs for a new career-compatible graduate program called “System Design and Management”—the first graduate-level, degree-granting program at MIT to include a distance education option. The program would partner with industry to educate future leaders in product development, with a curriculum that combined system-level engineering content with management courses adapted from the MIT Sloan MBA program.
As an MIT alumnus myself, I knew that an MIT graduate program would be a terrific option for my high-potential product development engineers at Otis, a division of United Technologies Corporation (UTC). I also had some thoughts about what the new degree should include. Magnanti and I spoke for about an hour, and I was soon able to confirm that Otis would send students to SDM’s inaugural class.
Since that time, UTC has sent 45 students to the degree program and 164 students to the certificate program. Seventy-five percent of Otis’s degree students and one of its certificate students rose to executive positions within a few years, as did many of the students from other UTC divisions.
After seven years at Otis, I left to start my own consultancy, and was hired through my company to run the SDM Graduate Certificate in Systems and Product Development program with Helen Trimble, who is now SDM’s director of career development. In 2004, I joined MIT as the director of the master’s degree program, and I have since discovered that I love teaching and mentoring the students and working with the staff.
It feels as if I am home now, after being associated with SDM since before the beginning.
Happy 15th birthday, SDM!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Developing Product Requirements Criteria at bioMérieux - SDM Pulse Fall 2011

Lisa Steinhoff
For her capstone project in MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, Lisa Steinhoff, SDM Certificate ’10, created a common product requirements document (PRD) and optimized systems engineering document templates. She also prepared a proposal for integrating these documents into the product development and design controls process at her company, bioMérieux. The purpose of the PRD was to provide a set of generic requirements that would remain consistent across all systems. The common PRD would allow the global company to improve its system development efforts, focus on what is specific to each new product, and transfer knowledge from site to site.
Most bioMérieux products consist of:
• a biologic disposable
• application PC software
• instrument hardware and firmware
These areas often are referred to as the subassemblies or components of the system. Defining what levels of documentation are required for each is helpful to project planning, verification and validation planning, and traceability. The documentation structure Steinhoff developed will be used across development sites to improve communication around planning, traceability, usability, and risk analysis. Steinhoff credits SDM’s class in system architecture with helping her to identify the need for a common PRD as well as the organization of documentation.
This chart shows what documents are required for each level of the system as well as which
ones will serve as inputs to verification and validation testing. This documentation structure is
designed to help development sites to speak the same language in terms of planning, traceability,
usability, and risk analysis.
The requirements count for each project examined illustrates the need for some commonality
and more efficiency.
About bioMér ieux
A world leader in the field of in vitro diagnostics, bioMérieux maintains a presence in more than 150 countries through its 39 subsidiaries and large network of distributors.
Criteria to Consider
The process Lisa Steinhoff used to develop generic requirements for bioMérieux products included evaluating each requirement against the following criteria:
• Is the requirement at the system level?
• Is the requirement design independent?
• Is the requirement generic?
• Does the requirement relate to usability aspects of the system?
• Is the requirement SMACCable, that is:
• Specific: unambiguous and understandable, having only one interpretation or meaning
• Measurable: defined in quantifiable terms that can be verified or validated by an objective method of analysis, inspection, or testing
• Attainable: achievable with existing technologies or demonstrated as feasible through research of new technologies
• Consistent: not in conflict with any other requirement
• Complete: all elements are identified, adequately defined, and can be approved for use in subsequent design activities
About the Author
Lisa Steinhoff has been an engineering manager in the Research & Development Engineering group at bioMérieux since 2001. She holds a BS in biomedical engineering and an MS in engineering management, and just completed SDM's one-year Graduate Certificate Program in Systems and Product Development.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

SEAri Website Provides Window into Research

The MIT Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative (SEAri) group is engaged in research to develop advanced systems engineering theories and methods through collaborative projects with government and industry organizations. SEAri also investigates effective engineering practices in these areas. Through their work, SEAri researchers are better able to identify the emerging needs of the systems community. The group actively shares its research progress by frequently engaging with sponsors, hosting an annual research summit, and participating in professional society activities.

Interim and final outcomes of research investigations and studies are captured in student theses, journal and conference papers, and general publications for the wider systems engineering community. As a research group focused on practical impact, SEAri views its website as an effective way to share knowledge with the professional community. The website includes access to four types of documents: presentations, publications, theses, and working papers. Where possible, all documents are made available for download in the spirit of open information sharing. Publications reflect the excellent research accomplished by SDM students working with the SEAri group, as well as work by doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students from several departments across MIT.

While theses and papers provide deep insights, the group has found that sharing presentation briefings also benefits interested practitioners, often providing early access to the evolving research. Each year, SEAri holds a one-day research summit in conjunction with SDM's annual Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges. Since many interested professionals are unable to attend, SEAri posts summit briefings on its website following the event. According to SEAri Director Donna Rhodes, "Our annual research summit provides a theme-based showcase of ongoing research. By making the briefing materials available, we can give professionals a glimpse of ongoing work that may be of interest." The 2011 SEAri research summit presentation briefings will be available in early November.

"Our plan for the near future is to make a number of our methods tutorials available, as we often receive requests for these," said SEAri Lead Research Scientist Adam Ross, architect of the website. "Our hope is that we can accelerate the understanding of our approaches, allowing the professional community to more effectively benefit from knowledge generated through years of research."

For more information, visit the SEAri website at seari.mit.edu or contact the leadership team at seari@mit.edu.

SDM Thesis Roundup - SDM Pulse Fall 2011

This sampling of SDM thesis research illustrates the range of systems questions that SDM students address. To read these theses in full, contact Joan S. Rubin, SDM industry co-director, jsrubin@mit.edu, 617.253.2081.

Application of System Safety Framework in the Hybrid Socio-Technical Environment of Eurasia
Author: Azamat Abdymomunov, SDM '10, founder of the Astana Innovation Center
Advisor: Nancy Leveson, PhD, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems
The Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Power Station is Russia’s single largest power facility and typically produces about 24.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. A 2009 accident, caused by the failure of a turbine and the flooding that followed, killed 75 people and shut down the plant. This thesis examines the hybrid characteristics that emerged in the vital sector of the planned economy—the electricity sector—and how those characteristics contributed to the accident.
Abdymomunov, a former strategic advisor to the prime minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, examines some of the root causes of the disaster. He notes that 20 years after splintering into 15 national entities, the Soviet region’s political and social transformation has led to hybrid structures in political, economic, and technological domains. Different institutions and policies, state and private business entities, old and new technologies, and collectivist and individualist value systems coexist. The roles of government, state enterprise, private business, and civil society are not clearly defined.
He argues that the traditional approach to explaining the accident—characterized by a culture of blame, as well as a focus on reliability, responsibility, and modernization—fails to acknowledge systemic causes. The borders of systems change over time, evolving and adjusting to the external environment. In the case of the power station, the reform of Russia’s electricity sector affected station safety and reliability.
 The system theory approach adds a number of elements to the analysis of accidents,
including a look at the context or conditions at work when the accident happened and
an examination of contributing systemic factors.  The approach also incorporates broader
systems and socio-technical concerns into planning to prevent a repeat of a disaster.

Abdymomunov concludes that accidents are complex processes involving the entire sociotechnical system. In the case of the Russian power plant, insufficient capital investment and backlog in maintenance shifts were key systemic factors that allowed organizational behavior to migrate from a safe to an unsafe state.

A Systems Approach to Food Accident Analysis
Author: John Helferich, SDM ‘10, adjunct professor at the College of Business Administration at Northeastern University and a Batten Fellow at the Darden School of the University of Virginia
Advisor: Nancy Leveson, PhD, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems
Food-borne illnesses lead to 3,000 deaths per year in the United States. Some industries, such as aviation, have significantly increased safety through careful accident analyses and follow-up changes in industry practices. In the food industry, however, current methods of accident analysis remain grounded in regulations developed when the industry was far simpler than it is today.
Helferich, the former senior vice president of research and development at Mars Incorporated, explores whether the incidence of food-borne illness could be reduced by changing the method of accident analysis from the current approach to a system theoretic method. Currently, food accident analysis combines epidemiology—to identify and track illnesses to their origin—with a regulatory standards approach that is based on a linear model of accident causation.
Helferich asserts that causal analysis using system theoretic accident modeling processes (CAST) is a better method. CAST is designed to determine how and why accidents occurred by analyzing the control structure of the accident system.
To test whether CAST can provide more comprehensive insights into food system accident causation, Helferich analyzed a case study using both traditional and CAST approaches. The case study chosen is a 2008 outbreak of salmonella linked to the Peanut Corporation of America, which forced the company out of business and significantly drove down sales of peanut butter nationwide
Helferich demonstrates that the application of a system theoretic accident analysis method such as CAST results in more learning than the current method of accident analysis. He concludes that the current food accident analysis system should be augmented with a systems-based approach to identify and control more extensive system hazards.

Platform Project Management: Optimizing Product Development by Actively Managing Commonality
Author: Raúl Pinillos Montaño, SDM ‘09, program management engineer at Ford Motor Company
Advisor: Olivier de Weck, PhD, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems
Product developers continually strive to create better products faster and more cheaply. One way to do that has been to design common parts and create product families, which enables companies to increase profitability by sharing costs among different products. However, managing common designs in a product family is not a trivial task. Over time, product commonality typically decreases, a phenomenon called divergence.
Pinillos proposes a system dynamics methodology to explain the different impacts of divergence on the development projects within a product family. Using a model calibrated via a case study in the automotive industry, he simultaneously simulated lead and derivative projects based on product commonality.
Pinillos measured divergence rates and found they ranged from 0.4 percent to 1.2 percent loss of product commonality every month. Further, he found that this divergence caused significant damage to the product development projects—as high as a 22 percent schedule overrun or a 29 percent increase in personnel needed to achieve the planned project schedule. He reports that these effects grew proportionally to the divergence rate.
Pinillos concludes that actively managing product commonality can be an effective method to achieve a successful execution of the development projects when the product platform approach is utilized. Platform project management, he argues, can ensure that product commonality is achieved throughout the development process by balancing and trading off all the designs among the entire product family rather than by making decisions for each product in isolation.