Introducing Robust Design in Product Development Learning from an initiative at Volvo
Journal article, 2012
Robust design (RD) has a large potential to contribute to product and process improvements providing increased customer value. However, it has shown to be difficult to obtain these benefits in practice. This study aims to evaluate and learn from an initial approach to introducing RD within the Volvo Group. It is based on three pilot cases within the product development organisation of a business unit. Data were collected through formal interviews and informal dialogues with pilot participants, supplemented by existing documentation of the pilot cases. The main finding was that a RD initiative, characterised by ‘tool-pushing’ and with a predefined solution introduced by an external consultant, faced many obstacles and could not create a sustainable result. Instead, it was found that there is a need to involve engineers and create a learning culture in which RD principles can become a natural part of work practices. This study identified six obstacles to the success of the initiative, which were perceived as learning points for a broader application of RD at the company. This underscores that RD initiatives can also be hampered by
similar types of obstacles that have been identified in research on other change processes.
resistance to change