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The Innovator's Toolkit: 50+ Techniques for Predictable and Sustainable Organic Growth, 2nd Edition by Neil DeCarlo, Philip Samuel, David Silverstein

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Technique 36

Morphological Matrix

Generate solution concepts by combining design alternatives.

 

Morphological matrix combines design options at the subfunction level to help you come up with new solutions. For instance, if you are building a self-driving car, you have many ways to design the car's subfunctions (GPS navigation, voice recognition, external sensors, etc.). Morphological matrix enables you to determine all possible design solutions, including approaches that combine design options in ways you might not have thought of before.

You can use morphological matrix after you have identified your system's subfunctions with the Function Structure technique. Or, if you're following an axiomatic design, morphological matrix will help you translate functional requirements into design parameters. Although the technique itself is easy to use, the team must have significant expertise related to the system to understand its subfunctions and evaluate the design options.

The premise of the term morphology is that by understanding the underlying parts of a system (the system's subfunctions), you will better understand the entire system (the system's overall function). Thus, when you look at a system's morphology, you are essentially asking, “What parts make up the whole?”

Steps

Scenario: In Function Structure (Technique 35), we determined a list of design options for an automatic hair-washing machine. We can use morphological matrix to combine these options into possible solutions ...

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