Towards a learning organization for product development

Detta är en avhandling från Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Sammanfattning: The costs of late changes due to earlier misunderstandings in product development are very high, even though no company wants to admit how high they really are. From experience in Swedish industry and based on results from previous research found in the literature, the conclusion is drawn that people need to talk to one another to be able to understand one another and thereby avoid misunderstandings. Information technology can be used to increase the frequency and amount of information communicated within a product development organization but it cannot replace talking. This project aims at delivering methods that are intended to improve effectiveness of product development, i.e. fewer misunderstandings will contribute to improved quality and, as a consequence, lowered costs and shortened lead-times. The project also aims at delivering a method that is intended to improve organizational learning, which would in turn improve a company’s ability to adapt more easily to a changing environment. The ultimate goal and vision is more competitive companies.The following contributions to the theory of Engineering Management are presented in this thesis: (i) ‘An Engineering Management Model for Improvement of Organizational Learning’ is a theoretical model of how three management disciplines can be used together to improve organizational learning within a product development organization, based on the framework of Senge’s five disciplines. (ii) ‘Phantom Turbine Development’ is a presentation of how people engaged in development of technology and processes for product development can share goals and visions based on future customer needs. (iii) ‘Process Improvement Simulations’ are a method for simulating and comparing improvements to the development process before they actually take place. (iv) ‘Knowledge Overlapping Seminars (KOS)’ are a communication method for engineers in a product development team with the purpose of eliminating misunderstandings. Obstacles that occur in ‘ordinary meetings’ are avoided in a KOS.Action research has been used as research method. It has been performed at ABB STAL, a company developing gas and steam turbines, where the researcher of this project is employed. The approach used, collaborative action inquiry, is characterized by the researcher having an almost total identification with the activities and direction of change of the company, which is the case since the research is to a great extent based on the researcher’s own experience.

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