Abstract

Design team decision-making underpins all activities in the design process. Simultaneously, goal alignment within design teams has been shown to be essential to the success of team activities, including engineering design. However, the relationship between goal alignment and design team decision-making remains unclear. In this exploratory work, we analyze six student design teams’ decision-making strategies underlying 90 selections of design methods over the course of a human-centered design project. We simultaneously examine how well each design team’s goals are aligned in terms of their perception of shared goals and their awareness of team members’ personal goals at the midpoint and end of the design process, along with three other factors underpinning team alignment at the midpoint. We report three preliminary findings about how team goal alignment and goal awareness influence team decision-making strategy that, while lacking consistent significance, invite further research. First, we observe that a decrease in awareness of team members’ personal goals may lead student teams to use a different distribution of decision-making strategies in design than teams whose awareness stays constant or increases. Second, we find that student teams exhibiting lower overall goal alignment scores appear to more frequently use agent-driven decision-making strategies, while student teams with higher overall goal alignment scores appear to more frequently use process-driven decision-making strategies. Third, we find that while student team alignment appears to influence agent- and process-driven strategy selection, its effect on outcome-driven selection is less conclusive. While grounded in student data, these findings provide a starting place for further inquiry into of designerly behavior at the nexus of teaming and design decision-making.

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