Component Detailing

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The component detailing technique (Watkin, 1985) has associations with Attribute Listing and BrainSketching. Components are drawn in much the same way as the old children’s game combining pictures of heads, bodies and legs taken from different people to make a bizarre composite person.

The method works best when the ‘problem’ is the design of a physical object, but it can also work with problems whose components have a clear logical, rather than physical, relation to one another.

It has strong elements of ‘problem exploration’ as well as ‘idea-generation’, because it often helps comprehensive understanding and the development of new viewpoint.

  1. Assemble a group of participants to break a problem down into as many major components (sub-systems or sub-assemblies) as there are group members. The group lists the features of each component (c.f. Attribute Listing ).
  2. Each group member is allotted one component and should try unearthing a way to produce a sketch of a way of ‘solving’ it, making their sketch as detailed as is achievable in the time available (c.f. BrainSketching ).
  3. Reconstruct all the component drawings into one large collage that is organised to represent a (probably rather bizarre!) composite ‘solution’ of the whole problem – i.e. all fit crudely together (either physically or logically) as a ‘complete’ product or solution (like the artificial person created in the ‘heads, bodies and legs’ game).
  4. The composite collage is then looked at and discussed for new ideas and perspective on the original problem, or indeed for ideas for completely new products