Seductive statistics and design

  • The environmental impact claims appear to have been extrapolated from earlier research into the impact of design on product manufacturing costs. There’s significant and ongoing debate about whether that extrapolation is appropriate.
  • Some authors of the early research referenced an internal study from Ford. When a manager at Ford was asked about it, they said “Oh, that was just an internal informal survey, I wouldn’t base too much on that”.
  • Another reference was a Rolls Royce study — one that analysed 2000 part drawings and discovered that 80% of the cost reduction opportunities required changes to part design.
  • Some recent commentators pointed instead to a NAO review of projects where they concluded that poor design was responsible for nearly half the project cost inflation. But they were specifically reviewing construction of nuclear-related (and regulated) infrastructure, and only examined a handful of (albeit it *huge*) projects.
  • increase the budget of design teams (“80% of costs could be avoided pre-build, but design phase only gets 5% of budget of build…”)
  • increase the length of planning and design phases, and introduce more governance and stage gates (“we’ve been moving too quickly into the manufacturing phase, before the design is properly mature”)
  • get a “seat at the table” or to get their work prioritised (“the cost of bad design is so high, we can’t afford not to”).




Leader — digital/product/service design/research/strategy — and mother

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Audree Fletcher

Audree Fletcher

Leader — digital/product/service design/research/strategy — and mother

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