A state-transition model of team conceptual design activity

Tomislav Martinec*, Stanko Škec, Nikola Horvat, Mario Štorga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The purpose of the study is to model the micro-scale process patterns which can be identified during team conceptual design activities. A state-transition model has been developed and used to empirically investigate the patterns of design operations during two types of team conceptual design activities: ideation and concept review. The presented work builds on the perception of design problems as ill-defined and implies that conceptual design activities involve the simultaneous development of problems and solutions using three distinctive design operations—analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The three design operations have been defined as fine-grain design steps performed by design teams when exploring the content of both the problem and the solution dimensions of the design space. Moreover, design operations have been conceptualised as transitions between states of the explored design space, thus providing a basis for the state-transition model. The model’s ability to map and visualise proportions of design operation sequences emerging during ideation and concept review has facilitated the identification of both the activity-specific patterns and patterns that were likely to appear during both types of empirically investigated activities. The two activities exhibited similar patterns, such as alternation of solution synthesis and analysis, sequences of synthesis, analysis and evaluation within solution space, and the potential co-evolution episodes. Nevertheless, divergent traits have been identified for ideation, and convergent traits for concept review, based on the significant differences in proportions of design operations and their sequences.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Engineering Design
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)103-132
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Design process
  • Conceptual design activity
  • Teamwork
  • State-transition midel
  • Ideation
  • Concept review


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