Scrutinize your system for innovation.
Functional analysis is a process for assessing and improving system value—with a focus on retaining or increasing all useful functions, mitigating or eliminating all harmful functions, and improving inadequate functions. For example, a healthcare provider currently gives medicine to a patient at a clinic using a syringe-and-needle system; breaking these functions down into their parts (piston, cylinder, medicine, nurse, needle, patient) and functions (moves, guides, positions, penetrates) provides an opportunity to rethink and innovate the system.
Use functional analysis upstream in your ideation efforts to identify opportunities for improving the Value Quotient of your future solutions (see Technique 4). A simple functional analysis can be performed without the help of an engineer or expert. But for the details involved in complex systems, a value engineer or expert with experience is advisable, if not necessary—especially when dovetailing this technique with such other formidable techniques as Axiomatic Design (Technique 34) and Function Structure (Technique 35).
Every system is composed of hundreds if not thousands of interfacing elements. Changes in any one subsystem, component, or even a process parameter can reverberate and set off a chain reaction of positive and/or negative consequences throughout the system. Without a thorough understanding of how all of the causal linkages impact each ...