Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name



Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

First Advisor

Ratna B. Chinnam


This paper offers an integrated framework to systematically address routine challenges plaguing early product development for highly engineered and complex products, such as automobiles. The framework includes up-front strategic product planning leveraging ‘design thinking’ and ‘design execution’ through a structured process to enable adaptation under uncertainties in the product development lifecycle for customer delight and program success. Included is product planning, from fuzzy front-end until product launch, and prioritizing aligned strategic initiatives while integrating design thinking throughout the process. We also discuss two real-world case studies to emphasize the efficacy of the framework and to demonstrate practical examples of how lack of design thinking and customer voice in the early stages of product planning may result in customer dissatisfaction issues downstream. Reduction of late design changes and realized efficiencies will result in reduced overall cost and faster speed to market. We also address the need to better align and balance business, design, and engineering goals to achieve success. By leveraging this approach, practitioners can expect a more inclusive environment in which innovation is abundant and a more streamlined approach to product planning and design execution is achieved.