The Contrary Forces of Innovation: An Ethnography of Innovation in the Food Industry

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  3. Failing Fast

Add to Wishlist Add to Wishlist. Why do innovations tend to 'explode' into multiple versions when inventors seek to realize them? Why do most innovators seem to promise too much certainty about the future? And why is it so hard for innovations to succeed in finding use and establish a market?

Why is Innovation so Difficult in Food & Beverage?

The complexity and the tensions of industrial innovation processes are fleshed out through the analysis of an intriguing case study from the food industry. By drawing together insights from innovation studies, science and technology studies, and studies of industrial networks, the controversies of innovation are investigated. Particular attention is given to the interaction between the mobilising of actors-networks and the exploration of knowledge, as well as to the interaction among the networks of interconnected processes called 'industry'.

Through an ethnographic case study of innovation between the biomarine and agricultural industries, Hoholm has followed innovation processes from idea to commercialization. Therefore, for several weeks the trainee has put these facts on the back burner, preferring to concentrate on what he can do best: a technical job performed at a computer console. He has memorized the environment of the shielding disk from the drawings given to him by a neighbor at the office. He has redefined the enclosures so that he can accurately assess the space available and the margins for maneu-.

And he certainly needs these margins to be able to reinforce the shielding disk so that it can withstand the weight of the muon chambers. Finally, having concentrated only on the technical aspects, he has learned to know where he stands from a technical point of view; thus, he has developed a line of arguments to use with his neighbors if ever he should have to negotiate.

So he beavers away at his computer console, designing, imagining, and calculating. He checks the possibilities for adding reinforcements without disturbing the layout of the muon chambers. These reinforcements are necessary to prevent the disks from buckling under the weight of the chambers. After talking to his office neighbor, who is in charge of integrating the chambers, he drafts some ideas for fixing them to the disk. He discovers that this is the most delicate part of his own design work, as the loads to be borne are considerable and he has little space for adding the framework.

Although two-dimensional design software would give him a good idea of the surrounding space available, it does not really give him an overall view. Having worked with three-dimensional simulation and viewing tools at his engineering school, he decides to use his training period to put one of the software programs to the test.

Using it, he is able to show how the muon chambers and shielding disks fit together. His mechanical engineering tutors are interested but not entirely convinced. They prefer working with concrete analyses rather than such calculation tools. Next, the trainee designs a framework able to fit into the space available. He simulates various calculations of the framework with different diameters and materials so that he can get a realistic idea of the mechanical stress. He discovers that the framework will not be rigid enough unless it is closed at both ends.

For several weeks, he concentrates on the design of this framework, working in an environment that seems increasingly restrictive and hostile owing to the dimensional constraints and the problems of accessibility: little space available, the need to leave clearance for the detectors to be opened, and the overall suitability of the assembly.

There are so many geometric constraints that his first concern is to find a solution that is able to fit inside the space available. While devoting all his time and energy to this problem, he is also able to build up good professional relations with his colleagues in the office. He discovers that everyone there has had to forge a place for himself. The space-related problems of everyone he meets when working on its project are reflected in the design office itself. The list is long indeed, and it gets longer since the very notion of neighborhood has to be revised.

Before this, it was defined in terms of spatial proximity.

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Perhaps it is his mechanical engineering background that has so far restricted his field of vision. There are in fact several kinds of relations among objects; geographical proximity is not the only one. Indeed, radiation goes through various parts of the detector along with heat, magnetic fields, vibrations e. The detector may be symmetrical, but gravity does not see it that way. The toroids in the detector generate an intense magnetic field that tends to cause the elements to come together. The magnetic field exerts a force and then checks whether this force affects it or not or rather whether it affects the shielding.

Added to this is the question of maintenance access to the detector. All these forms of interaction can bring distant elements within the system in contact with one another. Drawing up a list of these elements along with the people working on them seems to be the only way forward.

In doing this, the trainee is in fact trying to identify and target all the neighbors with the biggest influence on his design work. Moreover, the breakdown of roles played does not now seem as clear as when he started. And so, having worked hard on the technical side of things, the student discovers how essential it is to be able to socially decode relations if he wants to complete his mission successfully. In other words, he has to ask himself who does what and how far is it possible to negotiate.

He finds out that certain elements cannot be negotiated, as changing them would put them back on the drawing board. Thus, the trainee comes to analyze the interactions between people, the recurrent nature of certain practices, the rules applied, and the possible interference of all this in his work. Stabilizing What the Neighbors Want The trainee also comes to realize that the demands of each person involved are not always clear and are far from stable. The shielding is supposed to fulfill two functions, but when he takes the various neighbors.

Each neighbor has his own expectations and requirements, only some of which have been put down on paper. What is more, under the instigation of the head of the design office, the trainee has begun a functional analysis. For example, the physicists say that the shielding should be millimeters thick and made of iron, with a copper base. But why? Which physicist decided that? And on what basis? Where are the data that led these physicists to give such specifications 3 years earlier?

Would they say the same thing today? In fact, all these so-called constraints have to be studied again, and the people who defined them must be found and asked why they said what they said. It is no longer possible, at this stage, to continue to rely on the available technical data. It would be better to find out the logical reasoning behind the orders given and whether it is possible to re-negotiate.

For example, just how far can the basic functions of the detector be revised? What seemed to be finalized is perhaps not. And so, after 4 months, after the student has done his design work on the supports for the muon chamber, the physicists decide that the way the chambers are mounted does not satisfy them.

After viewing the assembly, they realize the need for maintenance access. The support function thus becomes even more complex, requiring the addition of a new structure that is mobile in relation to the disk. All the design work on the direct support of the chambers has to be reviewed. The concept of the mobile structure and that of its supporting copper base have to be validated at the same time. And yet, the young engineer has already spent several weeks and much energy finding a solution.

Bringing to light a new element has led to a whole array of fresh constraints calling into question the initial concept. The trainee begins to wonder what he can base his work on. On top of this, he discovers that certain neighbors have taken up more space than was planned simply because they were not aware that neighboring elements had to be taken into account. As far as they were concerned, their elements were surrounded by emptiness. Now that the neighbors have been identified, the next problem is getting them to talk.

Would it be possible, and enough, just to get them around a table? Some of them come to CERN only once a month. Of course, our trainee engineer has neither the power nor the authority to convene them in a meeting. The head of the design office does not have. These would then be submitted with the aim of getting them to react and thus define their needs. They shy away from the idea.

They think that if they put their expectations down in writing they will no longer have the power to change them. For the head of the design office, on the other hand, the act of writing them down will force the physicists to express their needs, even if they will have to be modified later. If this is not done, they will be defining a solution to a problem whose terms are unknown. To begin with, the design work consists in studying each problem one after another. Little by little, the idea that it is necessary to have an overall view, and not just a technical one, emerges.

Different people work on each technical element, and it is essential to know exactly what they want and how far it is possible to negotiate with them. The trainee thus submits his solutions to his neighbors. The drawing of the disk is sent to a physicist so that, through simulation, he can check whether it is acceptable in relation to his needs i. A proposal for modifying the cryostat cover is faxed to the Orsay team in charge of its design. Within the design office, showing drafts of drawings to different colleagues during lunch or in an informal context produces some interesting reactions.

It allows the young engineer to see that work with each partner is carried out differently and requires different approaches. At times, the design proposed is provisional, insofar as an unhurried colleague is expected to provide some data. At other times, the engineer has to wait for a reaction to the proposed modifications to a particular part. The assistant technical coordination manager is soon to leave for the United States for a meeting where he should have a chance to raise the question of the muon chamber.

A file has to be prepared for him, and he has to be persuaded to bring up the matter. The problem here is that he comes to the office only once every 2 months. Negotiations depend on mediators whose logical approach is not always fully understood by the members of the design office. For some neighboring elements such as the calorimeter , negotiation is easier, as the colleagues involved work at the Geneva site.

For each neighboring element, and hence for each neighbor, there is a specific coordination procedure. In this way, the young engineer comes to understand the. Finally, it is interesting to see how simply working on an element such as the shielding draws attention. It has become a subject of interest, enabling questions to be raised sooner rather than later when later would in fact be too late. Indeed, the more questions it asks the more seriously it will be taken. If no one bothered to do this, the shielding would just become a kind of black hole, a bin for all the neighbors to throw their unresolved problems into.

After all, the designers are bound to find a solution later on. Having questions raised with the project actors was, in fact, one of the objectives of the head of the design office when he took on the trainee. Doing the design within the design office was going to enable me to monitor its compatibility with the entire assembly. It is at the center of numerous problems but there is nobody to deal with them and the initial design plan was far too succinct. It was essential to have somebody prepared to dig further into this design.

But most of all, from a sociological point of view, it was the ideal opportunity to study the dynamics of the design process through a physical experiment. As a mechanical engineer, and one that works at CERN, there were several small mechanical challenges: calculating the disk, the support, etc. There are many scientists who like to dapple in philosophy, but there are significantly fewer engineers. Furthermore, using an engineer studying for a DEA, supervised by a human sciences committee, was the ideal opportunity for understanding this area in a much more structured way.

It is also an opportunity for me to understand my own work as an engineer and what is being done in the area of How Experiments Begin? The work of the design engineer turned out to be considerably different from what the young engineer had imagined. He had thought that it was just a matter of finding the right solution to the problem in hand by applying the models and methods he had learned in the course of his studies.

Operational Summary 1. Design work is complex, even for a simple object. Designing a technical part, however simple, can quickly prove to be complex when the part in question lies at the center of a whole system and is linked to a certain number of other technical parts.

The design work builds up around a network of relations among technical parts. Designing an object involves taking into account a series of other objects, which are not always in direct contact with this object. These are related to one another; however, the way they are related is not always known at the start, and does not necessarily become clear during the design process. To define the specifications, the designer must describe this network of relations among technical elements and must go through it regularly to check on changes made. Objects and their relations are linked to people and social groups.

These objects can be taken into account only if the designer knows these people or groups i.

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Of course, this demands precise attention and a decoding ability to prevent judgment from being based on simplistic analyses at the beginning of the placement saying that problems are due to people or technical ideals, etc. There are actors behind each technical element, and they act as spokespersons for these elements. It is not always clear at the beginning what all the constraints are. They are gradually revealed as their relations with other elements are explored.

It is not possible to have them at the start, notably because the actors themselves do not really know them. The process of designing solutions and making them viable through drawings leads the actors concerned or order givers to talk about the requirements that they would like to see fulfilled. Bringing the intermediate objects into existence is.

It cannot be taken for granted that requirements and technical data are given objectively. In other words, final judgment must be withheld, as the information available may be misleading. It is better to understand how the data are put together socially and technically and then regularly test how stable they are. Showing interest in an object gives it life.

Working on it, drawing it, and circulating the drawing helps to awaken the interest of the various people involved, to position work in relation to it, and to demonstrate responsibility for it. It also helps those who draw up formal requirements. If no one is interested in an object, it cannot live. To manage relations between technical elements, the designer has to take into account how the actors react and behave in relation to their specific element.

Taking into account people and groups means first of all examining how they act, both socially and physically, especially when they have to interact with others. Doing technical work is just one strategy among others. Industrial design stimulates discussion. Industrial design is not only a technical means of viewing objects during their design; it also stimulates discussion between designers and other project partners.

In line with the rules about sciences laid down by Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar , pp. Therefore, this chapter is about working as an ethnographer on techniques—i. And yet, our industry, our technique, our science, our administration are still not well studied. As Georges Simondon noted , p. This all too easy humanism masks a reality rich in human effort and natural forces, essential elements making up the world of technical objects, themselves mediators between nature and man.

There are various objects at stake in the design of the OI3C tool. Is the creation of a new industrial entity just a matter of changing the organizational chart and the logo, or finding a joint name, or moving employees around? To support this theory, we shall look at OI3C from several vantage points. We shall first see how the OI3C computer tool becomes the core of a diverse network. The discovery of the network will go hand in hand with the opening of a black box, the very heart called the solver of this tool.

The aim is to bring it out from backstage and put it under the spotlight to see it in action and to discover it through what people say and do as they use it. It is difficult to enter a new field and become interested in it if certain elements make no sense at all. Any observer sees what he is prepared to see, or what particularly surprises him in relation to what he already knows. Observation is structured by our view of things.

Inside the STC department, the birthplace of OI3C, an observer who is uninformed about the project and its context would merely see people sitting at their desks. A bell often rings and someone starts speaking on the phone. What else could the observer say about such a scene? How is he to make sense of it?

How can he guess that these people sitting there are paid to do so and that they are all highly qualified? Although simple, such a description assumes that the observer already knows what computers and telephones are. Indeed, we all share some knowledge about and some references to their use. For example, both the observer and ourselves know that there is another person at the other end of the line and that the individual holding the receiver is not just speaking to an inanimate object in a fit of madness.

Software, Paper, and Telecommunications Geographically, OI3C is situated in a room large enough to hold about ten people. A computer workstation sits on a table. On the screen, in a colored rectangle, lines, arrows, and figures can be seen. The significance of this will become evident below. Where is OI3C? The network surrounding OI3C begins to emerge when you follow the conversations between people. It happens gradually as you watch a member of the STC department, sitting in front of his workstation with his telephone to hand, communicating regularly with software developers outside Green, or with the members of various design departments within Green.

A fax machine is being used to send and receive texts and sketches, and during phone conversations the coordinator of the OI3C project often looks at faxed documents. Computer files circulate between computers and printers. Thus, OI3C is not only a reference on a computer screen. One can see signs of it on printed sheets, on computer program pages, in configuration files, and in sketches. It is situated in a specific area of the department where there are two photocopiers one of which is shared with the other department in the building , a printer connected to the network, a portable printer which is moved from office to office , and two printers connected to an independent computer.

Such observations give the impression that this equipment is strategically placed so as to organize the movement of department employees. The room in which the blank paper and the printer connected to the network are located is the same distance from one end of the corridor as from the other. Along this corridor are the doors to the department offices, and at either end of the corridor a photocopier is stationed. Each person also has a telephone, so there are two or three per office. Much like the coffee machine, these spaces seem to encourage discussions e. First one must produce the medium a printed or handwritten sheet, or a photocopy ; then—and this is especially true in this case— one must move around the building the STC department is on the first floor; the fax machine is on the ground floor, next to the receptionist.

Indeed, the departments that share the fax machine occupy three entire floors. Nevertheless, the project coordinator does not always go downstairs. He can also send a document from his personal computer but not from the workstation by means of the internal e-mail service. And there is also a system for internal mail, which is delivered to every office twice a day.

The topography of the department is an important element. However, choosing the right piece of equipment does not depend only on whether one feels like moving. Observation teaches us that the most determining factor is the behavior of the correspondent outside the department. If as is the norm among engineers he does not often consult his electronic mail, it is better to use the fax machine and, in most cases, the telephone too to warn of the arrival or departure of a document, or to discuss a document in real time.

Paper is very present in this universe. On the basis of an estimate made by the person in charge of paper supplies, the design office consumes about nine boxes of paper—that is, 22, sheets—every 2 months. Since there are 20 people and the number of working days in a month is about 20, each person uses about 30 sheets a day. Indeed, the department from which OI3C emerged can almost be described as a factory producing printed paper, especially when one considers that the offices are filled with files and documentation.

This department produces texts and, to a lesser extent, sketches and computer files. It is therefore neither a design. And, as its abbreviation suggests, it is in charge of standardization and technical coordination for Green. It is through the various media created that OI3C actually exists, since the software is not restricted to the host computer alone even if at first glance it seems to be. First, a need for confidentiality was often expressed—particularly at the beginning of my stay, when mutual trust was only just emerging.

This underlines that the new tool is considered from the beginning as a strategic element lending a competitive edge to the firm. Second, the organization set up to create OI3C is project based, with a project coordinator, correspondents from other design offices that will be using OI3C in the future, and an outside computer specialist. The story of the genesis of OI3C told by the project manager is very straightforward.

However, dividing the proceedings up into such clear-cut time sequences is too easy. First period: suspicion Before , the designers of the late Yellow firm became aware of the limits of their tools when they realized that, in the years since the introduction of the MEDUSA software, their calculations of chains of dimensions were indissociably bound to this software. Their task was to test those tools to see how well they matched the specifications defined. This role swap meant that the choice of tool moved from a department responsible for computer resources to a department responsible for defining work methods.

To understand what happened before February 28, , I had to resort to interviews. As is often the case in history, I was faced with a. The OI3C project is seen as a competitive advantage. This study group then drafted the OI3C specifications. It was the initial job of the person who was project coordinator in to represent all the divisions, not just the two main divisions of the late Blue and Yellow firms, and to act as advisor between the two. In actual fact, there were to be two coordinators, the first relying on his design office experience in the extra-high-voltage department at Yellow and the second on his CAD skills he had been an in-house trainer before coming to the STC department.

What we are seeing here is the phenomenon of project institutionalization during which efforts and actions are crystallized into an organization backed up by rules, procedures, meetings and capitalization of the project. The setting up of the internal study group means that various actors from the institution call upon an outside firm to translate the project into computer form.

He shares the same memories of the late Yellow with the two coordinators of STC. Third period: crystallization of the project into an object The year was a very busy one for the project. The volume of documents increases considerably during this period, and new writers begin to emerge. These documents trace the genesis of the functional dimensioning project. Furthermore, the specific job of the trainee is to produce documents for future users and to monitor the test phase. During this period, about twenty documents are drafted, with the aim of determining, motivating, and coordinating the various actors.

These document are necessary for the creation of a tangible tool: the OI3C program. The architecture of the project gives it even more weight. Built up by separate teams who do not always trust one another, it is gradually institutionalized until it crystallizes into a computer model, texts, and strings of data. As I have already mentioned, the difficulty of building a collective identity and a collective activity can be seen through this technical development: being involved in the construction of OI3C is like being part of the construction of the Green firm.

For these reasons, the genesis of OI3C can be understood only by plunging this software-to-be into the environment of other objects with which it interacts. Similarly, it develops over time, and all the struggles, tensions, and future speculation focus on it as an object. We also see that the project group and the industrial organization are set up at the same time as the tool. The next stage is the crucial validation of the solver.

An Instrument of Technical Coordination In the previous section we looked at OI3C from the point of view of a collective of persons and objects. In this section we shall be moving between the STC department and a design office in order to focus on what the last two letters of the French abbreviation STC stand for: technical coordination. Degree of Contextualization or De-Contextualization of the Test Officially, OI3C is a computer program whose job is to help designers define the dimensions of the objects they conceive geometrical dimensioning using calculations; it is a question of determining a size considered as valid, taking into account various constraints.

Thus, OI3C is defined independently of any context of specific usage and is supposed to be universal. At this stage of the project we enter the test phase. For 6 months, the software will undergo various tests to verify that it is able to meet the objectives, namely to help the designers size parts that are being designed.

The goal is to apply supposed universally valid software to different contexts of usage, which, on the contrary, are highly local. Testing it this way makes it possible to check the whole contents of the software and see how effectively the users are able to handle it. The testers use examples and problems actually met by the designers. They compare the solutions dimensions produced by OI3C against the numeric results obtained by other software packages considered in the firm as accurate and against the numeric results obtained before and after modification of the OI3C program.

Let us follow our testers, who are the two project coordinators, the computer scientist, and the trainee. In practice, they handle elements that no longer have very much technical meaning. The examples presented by the users are de-contextualized as soon as they enter the STC department. Testers, for example, are quite incapable of talking about the part that needs to be defined in terms of size, and about the assembly to which it is to be added.

One of these examples is even paradigmatic; it is almost always used for tests, in negotiations, and when people have to be convinced and explanations given. It is disconnected from the object to which it refers but also from the practices and problems of the design office that proposed it as a test.

Exactly what they know about the real part can almost be seen in what is presented below, starting with figure 1. Once de-contextualized, the example is used to confront the software with a given situation based on reality. In other words, the validation is re- contextualized. Contextualization continues, moreover, as site visits are made in various design offices. The example is not only that of a part; it is also an example of need expressed by the designers.

But why this distance should matter rather than another is a question to which the testers have no answer. See figure 2. The part is then represented in the form of a working drawing figure 3 built up of lines and textual symbols. Ideally, the one should be equal to the other; only the way they are found should differ constraint expressed in functional specifications by the customer representative vs.

To do this, OI3C creates a mathematical object an equation that is said to be functional. This is then used to calculate the value of the functional requirement using a calculation algorithm chosen. This in fact involves translating the value from the geometry register to the algebra register. These new objects sketch, working drawing, OSC, FR, chain of dimensions, and functional equation are manipulated by the testers to confirm that the OI3C software is appropriate for the real cases and the needs expressed by those who speak for future users.

In this BE, jobs relating to the graphic work on computer, rough drawings, etc. Each designer also has a working desk, often containing a pile of department memos, a diary, internal publications, and a phone or the fixed base of a wireless phone. This office overflows onto the nearby walls, where there are calendars, family photos, Post-Its, etc.

This visible opposition is less cut and dried than it appears. Indeed, most of the time the designers hover around the workstation, where there is a big plan and a note pad used to make quick sketches. With the wireless phone in one hand and the keyboard in the other, the designer can be seen at his workstation talking with the STC department about the way to use OI3C. Because the members of the BE move these objects around when they are talking about calculating chains of dimensions, we shall also follow these objects by going back to the workshop.

Highly automated, the workshop is devoted to the manufacture of parts and the assembly of. During the visit, the BE pilot user takes two plastic parts at random and tries to assemble them. Perhaps he forces them a little, or even too much. After a discussion with the operator, the conclusion is that, yes, the designer has forced the parts. A series of questions then ensues: Has the workshop operator not respected the tolerance indicated on the plan?

Were the tolerances put on the plan by the designer inappropriate? Has there been a calculation mistake? And so we discover two new places and can now consider the physical comings and goings of the people working in them. The BE is part of a rectangular building the length of which is traversed by a corridor separating it into two halves. Between the BE and the workshop the production engineering office is located. One might think that the work mode used here is sequential, but the aisle leading from the BE to the workshop is used in both directions as people and objects regularly go back and forth between the two.

Through much mediation, the dimensions worked on in the STC department are bound to the physical parts produced in the workshop, and tracing the route they take from one place to the other helps the OI3C designers to re-contextualize their product. In this way, they come across new needs and situations of use that differ from those encountered in STC.

Failing Fast

These situations are themselves converted into chains of specific dimensions, providing the designers of OI3C with more food for thought. How valid OI3C is for this pilot user at this time will depend on the possibilities of adapting it to various modes of representation. Whatever the case, we know nothing about the history of the decision to change from circles to lines. It may have come from the first users consulted, the project manager, or the computer scientist.

We can only look at how OI3C is used; theory alone cannot answer such a question. In this respect, our inquiry can go no further. We can. Finally, what is at stake during the OI3C validation process is not just the software. The process also involves collective production of knowledge and mutual adaptation. OI3C thus represents an opportunity to improve coordination between STC and the design offices—coordination that is at the heart of the validation work.

Indeed, to accompany field testing, questionnaires are sent out to the pilot users so that the OI3C genitors can situate the causes of operating errors and become familiar with improvement needs. As it turns out, the questionnaires are never sent back. On the other hand, by telephone and during study group meetings, remarks are made informally and new negotiations started, and thus OI3C moves closer to STC and the various design offices in an unexpected manner. Many things happen along the way. Let us now follow the construction of the solver from the beginning of June to the end of August.

Cote problem [Command allowing a dimension in OI3C to be modified]. The keyboard is a little softer, and the mouse, although it still has three buttons, is more like a PC mouse, with a ball running over a pad instead of an optical device reflecting off a metal plate. A few hours are not enough to change the. Furthermore, at the same time, the CADCAM department moves from the first floor of the research center where the STC department is located to new offices about a kilometer away.

The problem is that one of the prerogatives of this department is to install the new versions of the software packages, operating systems, and hardware for CAD. This move takes people and tools away, one of these tools being the tracer that was used by STC to print a working drawing or to create a transparency for a meeting.

The presentation of OI3C to the future users has to take place on June 6, with a software version that must work. These may be due to the hardware, the solver, or the configuration files. What do the actors cling to in this unstable universe? The working drawings should therefore be used as a reference, but unfortunately the tracer has been moved and the disc player of the new station does not work. How can first-rate working drawings be printed? How can paper versions of the files of chains of dimensions be produced for the invited users?

The actors use all their wits transferring the computer files from the CAD system to the text processing system. They make a text out of a graphics file. The project very quickly has not just one solver but two: the solver itself looks decidedly less and less like a hard core. Finally, on June 6, an OI3C version works, and several working drawings can be created and worked on. The pilot users are delighted, as are the OI3C genitors. The pilot users prove to be highly sensitive to the possibility of modifying the chains of dimensions without having to start all over for each modification. Cote problem.

If there are still some differences, can we really say that the solver has been validated? The answer here is No. The feasibility of the software now depends on whether it can be connected to the CAD software packages. In other terms, the solver seems to be validated! During the installation at the first site, on July 4, it is not possible to complete a whole chain of dimensions, even the one that has never posed a problem in the past.

But since June 6 the only modification has consisted in verifying the accuracy of results with the chains already drawn: no new chain has been introduced. This new incident obliges the trainee to start again using the printed file containing all the information necessary to define a chain. At the same time, his supervisor is faced with the same problem on the very machines used for the presentation of June 6. It attacks the simplest chains of dimensions, while the more complex chains do not pose a problem. Why is this? Is it a problem relating to the solver or to the change of machine? It reflects both the dexterity of the developer and the philosophy and decisions of the STC members.

At the end of August, Modif. During a visit, some pilot users explain to the OI3C genitors that the command Modif. Cote is, in fact, a communication tool for the design office and the production engineering department. It is important to be able to add a dimension to the chain for example, stemming from a part added for manufacturing purposes without starting all the calculations over from scratch.

The flexibility of the software seems to be essential for the proper coordination between departments. Nevertheless, after thinking about it for a few days, one of the leaders of the OI3C project comes up with quite a different idea. For him the Modif. At the end of the validation tests, the solver loses all appearance of being a hard core.

Reworked by the development engineer, reviewed by the project manager, then declared valid when in fact it is not completely under control, the solver is not just a tool, independent of all actors and simply waiting to be validated; on the contrary, it evolves along with the interactions into which it enters. Finally, the validated solver is the result of a long validation process rather than the precursor of such a process. Not as difficult as it seemed, it has finally been stabilized after numerous adaptations. It is thus capable of holding together a network of workstations, sets of working drawings, and chains of dimensions, but it also acts as an intermediary among various Blue and Yellow departments and among STC, the design offices, and the workshops.

Furthermore, the solver has become a constructive argument for Green through the speeches and written notes of the actors involved. Now properly set up, it joins other practices and is the subject of a new consensus, which contributes to the constitution of Green. In this section we shall be studying OI3C at the last site where it was installed. The importance of standardization at Green came to light in an almost.

Indeed, the CAD-CAM department of Green considers that, since the firm is now multinational, tools must be standardized on a common basis. In spite of this, the actors do not unanimously agree on the choices made, as we saw on another site where the designers have AZERTY keyboards. When this was pointed out, our STC colleague was also surprised.

In other words, it is the first tool that is supposed to create a common reference and promote the new design philosophy, centered on customer needs. In the s, Green gradually started taking over Yellow; then, in the s, Yellow launched a hostile bid to take over Blue. In the two companies merged to become Green.

The company was entirely recomposed and redefined in terms of activities centered on electrical technology. Standardization also requires tools and methods. For STC, you cannot have one without the other; tools and methods go hand in hand.


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It allows the trainers to assess the differences between what is prescribed by STC, for instance, and what they actually see and hear during training courses. Trainers are looked up to as experts. This opportunity to discuss points of view is not, however, inevitably transparent in terms of design practices, because the course attendees only testify to a small part of actual practices.

It is only through closer observation that the details can be analyzed, which is why trainees get to stay at an experimental site for a while. CAD in Use We see three people around a workstation. One has his right hand on the mouse. The other two, dressed in overalls, have brought a metal prototype.

On the screen, we see colored volumes, overlapping lines, and dimensions. On the table are a very large plan of a metal part and a slide gauge. The three people pick up these objects in turn. They manipulate the symbols, the abstractions, and the agreements built into the graphic representations. For them, realism is obviously neither a means of charming the spectator nor a selling point. On the contrary, they use the realistic views as a means of negotiation.

As they talk, they manipulate the physical models, the slide gauge, the colored pencils, and the technical drawings. Furthermore, the agreements to which they refer and their competence concerning codes are linked to the standardization of objects and tools. There are two different work spaces for the people in the office to use. These physically different spaces get muddled up in practice instead of acting as substitutes for one another, which is what one might imagine they are there for.

In this forest of objects and representations of objects, OI3C is just one element among others. It introduces a new point of view into a universe. Going from one to another, the designers simulate assemblies and solutions. Going from one action-based logic to another, he tries to produce a representation that reflects a consensus of opinion from the actors before him. Seen this way, the standardization project channeled via OI3C can only be partial. After all, it is just one among others. Its binding force depends on the multiple elements making up the concrete situation of each designer.

The universality of the software can be seen as relative if one takes into account the contingency of the various situations through which it passes, unless these situations aim to achieve a certain equivalence by other means or under the effects of other constraints. These expressions make even more of an impression when we consider that the designers not only spend time designing—a highly valued task—but also manage plans, documents, and a huge amount of data.

The design office has a lot of cupboards with horizontal drawers moving on rails, numerous metal boxes, tubes containing plans, and tables overflowing with papers full of text and tables. Such lists must be constantly updated to ensure coherence between the set of documents texts and plans corresponding to a product throughout its industrial and commercial life. This technical management calls into play many actors the draftsman is not always the one that makes the modification to a plan, for example , and there is a heavy amount of data to be treated, copied out, passed on, and remembered.

For example, an electrical equipment project at Green can contain up to dimensions included in some chains of dimensions. To make technical data management successful, the designers use the photocopier a lot. They copy pre-existing templates, which they then fill in, complete, and annotate with pens which they typically carry in their shirt pockets. During visits to various Green sites, I observed that the designers use many sheets of A4, which one might have thought would be used more in administrative departments than in a design office.

They use them to create double-entry tables, for example, with the names of. The OI3C dimensions manager is thus supposed to be a simulation tool, since it calculates the impact of a modification to one dimension or tolerance on other dimensions. Numerous observations and discussions with the pilot users revealed that the most delicate and the most boring task from their point of view is indeed the technical management of data: they focus their attention on it, and from there their expectations are expressed and possible resistance brought to light.

Finally, OI3C seems to have no definite frontiers. The solver calculation tool is supposed to be at the very core of the tool but is in fact only one feature among others. The interface with the other CAD tools actually attracts more attention. In the course of practice, the technical administrator, designed to be a useful plug-in, is transformed into a central feature, helping to tackle the problems encountered in the daily lives of the designers.

Conclusion OI3C is hybrid and designed for multiple uses. It is an instrument of technical coordination, standardization, and promotion of a new mode of design. It is no longer a black box: the dynamics of validation gradually opened it. Starting out life as the answer to a need expressed on a specifications sheet, it grows into a tool that can actually serve a purpose. However, in , it is still not up and running at the industrial sites. Nevertheless, in view of the pressing demands of the departments involved, the curiosity of the other divisions, and the enthusiasm of certain pilots users, everything seems to point to its imminent implementation.

If it does become operational, it may become a means, among. We have noted to what extent the tool was built by different actors, including the users themselves. This co-construction has not actually come to an end. A lot depends on a tool. It is therefore worth studying what is at stake.

In this chapter we looked especially at the identity and unity of a firm, its training policy and its design product philosophy. To really understand the purpose of a tool, it is useful to describe the situation in which it is used, as well as the objects, texts, people, and discourse with which it is associated. The observer must not sort occurrences a priori into meaningful and meaningless categories; he must first objectively record the links drawn between them by the actors or as they emerge in situation.

The instrument is at the core of a network. Describing the network is like opening a black box, which is what the instrument is. Even the inner core of an instrument, its most technical part, can be analyzed if the actors involved are tracked during the course of construction. Next, the thread of associations and exchanges between actors must be followed. The history of the design and development of an instrument teaches us many things about its nature. First, the instrument comes to life in a specific context, following a series of events that dictate its future.

It is the subject of tradeoffs between actors, and it is institutionalized before being transformed into an instrument or a code. Technical activities can undergo the same sort of analysis as objects. Thus, validating is not just a cut-and-dried practice; it has to be observed and analyzed.

There is permanent tension between contextualization and decontextualization while an instrument is being developed. The validation process presents an opportunity to manage this tension. The nature or the identity of an instrument is not given a priori.

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Its nature is unveiled as we describe how it is built and how it is used. Thus, OI3C, which was supposed to be a design aid tool, also appears to be a coordination tool and an instrument for standardizing practices. The first two chapters dealt with situations and problems related to design and innovation in the context of organized structures.

Most of the people observed were professionals. However, in the course of his work, an engineer or a designer often meets and negotiates with other people, and especially with clients. In this chapter, we will observe an engineer in his dealings with society. As designer, his role is to gradually integrate an increasing amount of information concerning the problem as the project is materialized. Of particular note is the manner in which an engineer attempts to predict the behavior of groups of people through the transformation of objects and their use and meets with relative success.

He discovers an unexpected plurality in the world of the household, which the designer believes to be a socially homogeneous group, a world adhering perfectly to a single model of behavior. He finds the world of the household much less predictable than he imagined. The introduction of a new object reveals the heterogeneity of society. As the action is applied, splits and divergences appear that alert the designer to the necessity of developing a deeper understanding of social complexities. He finds that society is composed of social groups with different objectives, identities, interests, and types of behavior.

Furthermore, these differences do not necessarily exist prior to the action. Indeed, the action produces, rather than reveals, types of behavior and discrepancies that might have never existed otherwise. When put into contact with new objects, speech forms, and rules, people react and spontaneously change their identifying characteristics. The objects themselves take on unexpected characteristics. In the course of such a project introducing a new object with a view to establishing a new type of behavior , countless discoveries are made and a multitude of transformations are observed.

Its history is the study of objects and human groups and their respective identities. In this chapter, we will examine a project for selective sorting of household waste. It is designed by an agricultural engineer concerned with producing high-quality compost. The project mobilizes and affects nearly all facets of society: the balance of political power, the composition of society, the strategies of its members, the objects they use daily, education, industrial activity, legislation on community action, etc.

During the ongoing process of the project, the engineer comes to a deeper understanding of society as he is transforming it.