User-Centered Innovation for the Design and Development of Complex Products and Systems

PI: Prof. Riitta Katila


The proposed study is a two-phase research effort aimed at examining user interaction for the design and development of complex products and systems, across a range of high-technology industries. We aim to answer the questions: which user groups should designers target within complex, multi-user systems; and does designing with and for particular users and user groups improve the usability, functionality, and novelty of new products and services?

 In Phase I, exploratory interviews with leaders from the IT, aerospace, and healthcare industries will be conducted, and a comprehensive literature review of products and services in these fields will be performed. Phase II intends to examine the inclusion of "average product users" and "lead users" in product design teams. It will consist of an initial pilot study involving Stanford engineering students, followed by a longitudinal, case-based analysis of 18 development teams within the IT, aerospace, and healthcare sectors.

Data analysis will include a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to examine relationships between design teams and product performance outcomes. This study will impact design thinking research through providing an improved understanding of user and stakeholder roles within complex systems, and new insights regarding user-centric design teams across multiple industry sectors.