A number of Rapid Learning Cycle techniques have been proposed in the last few decades. Acronyms like PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) or LAMDA (Look Ask Model Discuss Act) are meant to instill a structure to the design investigation process. To me the biggest emphasis I take from these ideologies is the need to understand the users, environment, and what the ‘real’ constraints are. The classic example I have heard is one involving a company developing a bread making machine that enlisted a master baker in order to show how bread needs to be stretched in order to produce the fluffy stuff we know and love – who knows how to knead bread today anyways!?
But I digress, the premise of taking time to plan and investigate early in a design process is key to delivering the right product to the marketplace. The scope of these investigations should include the entire value chain, from consumer packaging, disposables, reimbursement codes, the user’s state of mind, all the way to how the consumer disposes or services the device. By taking the time to investigate by looking and asking the right questions to experts early on in the design cycle – us engineers can then be thinking of these things early on in the product design cycle. Experience shows that this will provide the best value to the customer and help put the right product on the marketplace.