Sonia Ben Hamida

2018 SE Doctoral Dissertation Showcase – Exemplary Recognition

Dissertation Title
Innovate by Designing for Value – Towards a Design-to-Value Methodology in Early Design Stages

Dissertation Abstract
Decisions made in early design stages condition the next detailed design phases and can drastically affect the cost and the success of the system or the service under development. This success relies on the ability to satisfy customers’ needs and expectations while ensuring profitability for the company. But customers may face difficulty to express their needs, and they are not ready to pay for everything. Therefore, it is critical to elicit and assess the values not only for the customers but also the other stakeholders and the company itself. Decisions impacting value creation still need to be better understood and articulated by considering the unarticulated and latent stakeholder values, the complexity in system design and the economic benefit in developing the system or service. Another characteristic of early design stages is its multidisciplinary: It involves the Business Developer, the System Engineer and the different disciplines (electronics, structure, cost, etc.) that will give technical answers, thus contributing to the selection of the “best” solution. Although Business Developers and Systems Engineers both focus on value elicitation and value creation, they do not share a clear definition of value, resulting in difficulty to trace values down to system architecture. Their roles need to be better articulated to help them share a mutual understanding and to smooth iterations on Business Model (BM) design to explore BM desirability, feasibility, and viability, all-at-once.

To address these challenges, this dissertation introduces the ValYOU methodology, a structured and iterative approach to bridge the gap between Business Developers and Systems Engineers to design valuable systems and services under uncertainty in early design stages. The methodology was conceived to integrate main value-oriented decision activities in a unified framework, to support the iterative and incremental definition, exploration and evaluation of BM alternatives. We propose a flexible and broadly applicable approach to design for value in early stages, for both new and existing systems and services, to break down organizational silos and increase commitment across business and engineering teams in a collaborative environment. The ValYOU methodology is composed of a process and three methods:

  • The ValYOU process to orchestrate value-oriented decisions from value elicitation to value assessment. The process shifts from system design exploration to BM design exploration. Not only are the design variables of the feasible concepts analyzed but also the BM design variables, such as the scope of the value proposition (what to deliver).
  • The ValSearch method to structure the market research and capture BM environment elements, by applying a qualitative analysis based on the BM ontology. ValSearch helps to gather and structure knowledge on the BM environment and to select the elements that will constitute the BM. Several alternatives of BM can be defined and managed. The reliability of the information is also captured and the understanding of the BM environment can be consolidated continuously.
  • The ValUse method to design value propositions, by adapting the affordance-based design to system and service. ValUse helps to explore both the values in terms of exchanges, i.e. the tangible and intangible resources exchanged between the network of stakeholders; and the values in terms of usage, i.e. what the system or service of interest affords the stakeholders to do. This activity-centered method helps to augment the identification of values for the stakeholders at stake. It also helps to explore and define possible perimeters of the value proposition.
  • The ValXplore method to refine business opportunities and assess the BM alternatives by gaining insight during problem space and solution space exploration. In current practices, the needs statement or the business opportunity is fixed, and the exploration consists in understanding the contribution of the system design variables in the maximization of value creation. Whereas ValXplore helps to define the business opportunity thanks to a decision-aiding process supported by visual analysis. ValXplore tackles uncertainties on the business problem definition and assesses the value of the different BMs regarding uncertainty on the BM environment.

The methodology was tested and validated on several industrial use cases and demonstrated its usefulness to support Business and System design and exploration.

Sonia Hamida is a consultant at Davidson Consulting Switzerland. She worked as a Systems Engineer from 2011 to 2018 at Airbus Defence and Space and ArianeGroup. First, she took part in the Single European Sky Air traffic management Research (SESAR) program for two years. Then, she started a PhD in partnership with the SystemX research institute and CentraleSupélec at Université Paris-Saclay – one of the top French research institutes in system design. Her research focuses on how to design value proposition for new businesses under uncertainty.

Sonia holds a PhD in innovation in early design stages from CentraleSupélec and an engineer’s degree in aerospace from the French Civil Aviation grande école. She is a Certified System Engineering Professional from the INCOSE and a reviewer of the Systems Engineering journal.

Sonia Ben Hamida, Consultant, Davidson Consulting Switzerland
Phone: +33 6 2377 9329