Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Great Prototypes - Discipline in the world of choices

There are three general anchor points of our 2 year plan on which we keep our focus: Time, Budget, and Deliverable. A common rule of thumb in facing any decision is that we can meet 2 of these guidelines but one must give. For now until the foreseeable future, we have been most intent on holding the line on Time and Budget and allowing the Deliverable goal to flex within reasonable boundaries that still meet our mission.

In order to manage this "flex" we have emphasized flexibility in our process to be able to accommodate the widest possible range of automotive design within an acceptable range of production feasibility. This flexibility is a GOOD thing.

But we have learned to be vigilant.

Take design surfacing for an example. Given relatively unlimited choice of methods from pen sketch to rapid prototype to full prototype, there is a HUGE range of tools that can be employed to deliver a resulting form. The requirement for discipline comes in having to define the deliverable that neither overshoots or undershoots the need for form so that we can, again, meet time and budget.

(www.patb.com, volvomax)

Basically, it comes to this: Today's tools are getting so good that there is often a temptation to reach for the end to finish a surface before it is ready to BE finished. I believe that keeping flexibility as long as possible into the process allows us to make better decisions so that when we do get to the "point of no return", we are within an acceptable margin of error.

We see this a lot also in the design work in the community. Some people want the precision of a 3D model in order to make as strong a presentation as possible; however, the progress of their form may not be complete enough to begin the 3D modeling process. Simply spending more time in the sketch phase is often the right answer in order to find the right form before progressing.

Discipline in a world of choices is a comforting way to channel the best free thinking into a prototype.


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