Generally speaking, we use DFSS to close value-based gaps during the design phase of a product, service, business deal, or just about anything that adds value. Of course, this is accomplished in such a way that another gap is not propagated somewhere else in time and space. In other words, we leverage the ideas and methods of DFSS to create a plan for meeting a given need, be it real or perceived, in a quality way. When we say “in a quality way,” we are referring to creating a state in which value entitlement is realized for the customer and provider. We plan for meeting the need of, say, “transportation” in a way that is functional, reliable, serviceable, affordable, aesthetically pleasing, maintainable and so on.
As we wrap our minds around this philosophical underpinning, it becomes clear that DFSS is not a quality tool for enabling the traditional design process but a business tool for maximizing the confidence around the plans we generate for everything we do or deliver. In other words, the impact of DFSS as a “risk-centric” way of thinking is much broader and deeper than the traditional “defect-centric” way of thinking embodied by most engineers. As the aforementioned logic path implies, DFSS is the way in which we plan or configure any business deliverable such that we bring that deliverable into existence with the highest possible level of confidence (absence of risk) that it will achieve the aims for which it is intended.
Again, we must reiterate that we have set forth the philosophy of design in broad terms because it covers the entire universe of how a business plans everything it does or delivers, not just what it does to bring new products into existence. The strategy of DFSS provides us with a rational pattern for how we should go about configuring plans for new products, processes, software, systems, services, decisions, transactions, information, knowledge, experiences and events – anything we do to inject value into the business relationship on every front. Only when we view DFSS from such a “deliverable-centric” perspective can we clearly see how it supercedes the “product-centric” thinking that has heretofore dominated management history.
Most people already know that the aim of “business” boils down to three things: the ideas we have to satisfy customer and provider needs, the decisions we make and the things we do to enable and execute those decisions. When we view these three keys through the lens of risk, we see that there is little risk attached to a platonic idea, since it has no physical form or substance. There is, however, a great deal of risk associated with the plans (designs) we create and the means of execution by which we realize those ideas.
Hence, our ability to abate risk is directly tied to the relative efficacy of our decision making and the capability and capacity for executing those decisions. In other words, every time we draw a line, establish a tolerance level, set forth a procedural step and so on, we make a decision to do so and, by definition, we adopt a certain level of risk. Then we execute those decisions in time and space among a virtually endless constellation of contingencies and circumstances – many of which align or interact to create further risk opportunity, exposure and consequence. Thus, it can be said that DFSS is concerned with how we go about optimizing our plans and decisions – before they are implemented (for everthing that adds or subtracts value).