On the use and abuse of Technology and its Management from the perspective of an academic at UCL specialising in Project Management, Systems Engineering and Space Science/Technology.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Requirements: stated or discovered?

Or, the Cathedral/Bazaar dialogue hits hardware engineering?

At some point, I'm going to come to the topic of Requirements and how they should be generated. Particularly, I'm interested in how a research community (like mine in space science) ought to work to generate technological requirements for itself. From a single configuration-controlled document, or in an ant-hill like a Flickr forum?

Because I simply don't feel (am I allowed to have an emotion in this?) that technological features must be (as I read it at least one System's Engineering textbook) driven top-down into the product from on high, I'm going to study this carefully.

Here's one (trendy?) place to start, and to store up my feelings before heading into the desert of hard engineering. from Eric von Hippel's Democratizing Innovation (Freely downloadable from his site, but if you want to pay money for dead trees, try the Milton Keynes branch of Amazon.)

The user-centered innovation process just illustrated is in sharp contrast to the traditional model, in which products and services are developed by manufacturers in a closed way, the manufacturers using patents, copyrights, and other protections to prevent imitators from free riding on their innovation investments. In this traditional model, a user’s only role is to have needs, which manufacturers then identify and fill by designing and producing new products. The manufacturer-centric model does fit some fields and conditions. However, a growing body of empirical work shows that users are the first to develop many and perhaps most new industrial and consumer products. Further, the contribution of users is growing steadily larger as a result of continuing advances in computer and communications capabilities.

In this book I explain in detail how the emerging process of user-centric, democratized innovation works. I also explain how innovation by users provides a very necessary complement to and feedstock for manufacturer innovation.

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