Morphology Synthesis


The complexity of design problems requires a structured approach to the concept generation process.

  • Isolate those details that matter most, have the most potential for innovation, and meeting customer needs.
  • Deconstruct functions to resolve at a finer level of detail
  • Generate concept elements/components for each function (in columns)

A systematic approach to combine element level components, and generate integrated concepts and design solutions (for each function)

  • Prepare a Concept Combination Table (morphology box or chart), organized by a set of functions with associated elements/components.
  • Consider which elements might work together; draft combinations, each combination may lead to a different design path and create a new potential solution.
  • Work out an integrated design concept for each feasible combination (sketch, prototype, descriptive narrative, etc.)

Resulting in a more complete/robust/integrated than originally envisioned by simply brainstorming about functionality and process.

  • The process seems to naturally foster thinking just-around-the-corner, ideas and thoughts that might not have come up in a simple linear brainstorming or checklist exercise.
  • Combine requirements and discover an integrated solution meeting both needs
  • As the exercise of crafting prototypes to each solution-pair, other scenarios emerge with rich detail, with different thinking develop.
  • Visualize customer/client/user interaction and environment in more vivid detail
  • Allows thinking about how individual components of system might actually work or the behavior required
  • Tends to lead the designer/group to think about additional needs or techniques because a new mental model is described that can be evaluated by multiple people
  • Suggest linkages to entities we might not have been apparent at the first level of simulation; a systems thinking approach.
  • New unique use cases emerge, because the obvious did not get attention at the beginning, yet could be very significant especially when dealing with human behavior
  • The ability to uncover unexpected pairings of features; can lead to the creation of new concepts that may not have otherwise been considered by the designer or team.
  • This type of pairing created in a combination table, when explored in a descriptive exercise leads to greater granularity in thinking about how solution concepts┬ámay provide greater value when viewed in a holistic context.