Tracking consensus in product development teams
Morrow, Jeffrey A. (Jeffrey Alden)
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Modern concurrent engineering requires that the perspectives of the stakeholders in the product realization process be harmonized as early as possible in that process. We consider this harmonization to consist largely of reaching consensus about stakeholder perspectives and our research seeks to find ways to measure and characterize the states of consensus of product development teams. We experimented with various methods of cognitive anthropology, namely pile sorts, triads tests, ranking, and magnitude scaling, to elicit data and to test respondents' compliance. To simplify data elicitation, we wrote software in Microsoft Visual Basic to emulate these methods on personal computers. We used Cultural Consensus Theory and graphical methods to analyze results, concluding that it is possible and feasible to track consensus states in product development teams. We make suggestions for further work in the methods of cognitive anthropology and to extend the software emulations.