The Needs Problem Matrix: Providing Some Order to the Chaotic Ideation Fuzzy Front End

Ogot M, Okudan Gül E. "The Needs Problem Matrix: Providing Some Order to the Chaotic Ideation Fuzzy Front End." age. 2007;12:1.


The fuzzy front end of the ideation process can often be chaotic, disorganized and seemingly haphazard, especially to student novice designers. Presented with a large array of pre-ideation tools and methods that are supposed to assist them in generating concepts that solve the correct problem, and take into account all aspects of the problem, students are often overwhelmed with information, or simply unable to see the connections or relevance of the data generated from the tools, students begin to view these pre-ideation design process steps as ‘busy work’. The Needs-Problem Matrix (NPM) aims to tie seemingly disparate data from several pre-ideation tools together, presenting student designers with clear connections and a path forward in the ideation process. Use of the NPM ensures that relevant information is not omitted or ignored during concept generation. The NPM incorporates information garnered from patent analyses, black-box models, detailed customer needs analyses, and a design structure matrix used to establish design functional hierarchy. The NPM provides a flow of information from one tool to the next, clearly showing how they are all related, and illustrating what role each plays in the ideation process. Finally, the NPM also serves as a means to clearly document collected pre-ideation information and to aid in the decision making process.



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