Most professionals, actively engaged in design, live in a world of trade-offs. The most typical compromise is that reducing the cost of design causes quality to suffer, but there are many others as well. This paper summarizes current use of one of the most popular approaches to improving the new offering development process: design reuse. In the present study 42 companies were surveyed, of which 23 were in manufacturing and 19 were in services—but all were actively engaged in technology and design reuse in new offerings. It was hypothesized that policies for design reuse and internal sourcing would promote the complexity and breadth of reuse (here the combination of modular and architectural substitution), which, in turn would dampen the percentage of substitution and reduce the negative impact on innovativeness of new offerings. These predictions were generally supported. Adoption of policies for encouragement or to mandate design reuse were significantly correlated with the extent of reuse (application of both architectural and modular design vs. just one or the other) among manufacturers but not services firms in the sample. Internal sourcing of ideas for design reuse was significantly correlated with extent of reuse for the total sample, and especially for services. Design reuse percentage and extent of design reuse were significantly and inversely associated for manufacturing, as predicted, but not for services. Novelty of new offerings was significantly and inversely related to percentage of reuse, as predicted, for manufacturing, but not for services. It was found that sector also makes a difference in likelihood of adopting higher levels of reuse with service company respondents reporting significantly higher levels (average of 42% reuse for services and 28% for manufacturing applications). Perhaps one of the most interesting preliminary findings to emerge was that the tipping point of negative impact from design reuse percentage on innovativeness for all firms in the sample of new offerings was 43%, beyond which novelty suffers. For manufacturing, the tipping point was lower: Novelty begins to suffer after 33% design reuse, which has important management implications. The conclusion was drawn, based on these preliminary results, that much can be done to relieve some of the negative consequences of the typical trade-offs commonly encountered in development programs for new offerings, especially when cost, timing, and innovation are the target goals. However, services and manufacturing are quite different in their approach to design reuse and substitution. Further development of the concept of design reuse strategy appears to be warranted based on these preliminary findings. The findings raise the distinct possibility that mesolevel strategic aggregation issues might lead research into areas that help explain how complex systems realize their full self-organizing potential and why corporate strategy considerations, alone, have failed to explain the success and failure of organizations coping in rugged landscapes.
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Ettlie, John and Kubarek, Matthew, "Design reuse in manufacturing and services" (2008). Accessed from
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