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  • Writer's pictureRonnie Parsons

Scaling the Digital Frontier: How CD Ops Empowers Design Computing at Scale

Updated: Mar 3

This blog post summarizes the key takeaways from Ronnie Parsons' presentation at the CDFAM Symposium in New York last August. It explores the growing challenge of scaling computational design (CD) and introduces CD Ops, a framework to unlock its full potential and empower design at scale.

Get ready to learn how CD Ops can orchestrate your people, processes, and products to conquer the design frontier!

From Software Crisis to Design Bottleneck:

Imagine the 1960s, a time when the power of nascent computers outpaced the ability to write code for them. Programming became a "gigantic problem," as Edsger Dijkstra put it, threatening to stifle the potential of computing itself. The solution? Standardizing code through component-based development, allowing for reusability and faster innovation.

Fast forward 50 years, and we face a similar challenge in design. Computational design (CD), with its promise of data-driven solutions and product differentiation, struggles to scale. Bespoke solutions leave us reinventing the wheel, hindering our ability to keep pace with evolving demands.

Complexity, Volatility, Disconnection:

Today's complex design environment throws a curveball with:

  1. Increasing complexity: Multiple materials, processes, and evolving requirements demand sophisticated solutions.

  2. Rising volatility: Consumer trends, technology, and regulations shift rapidly, requiring agility.

  3. Uncertainty looms: Supply chain disruptions, market fluctuations, and toolset choices add to the unknowns.

  4. Disconnected expectations: Misalignment between aspirations and achievable outcomes breeds frustration.

Design Differently with CD Ops:

Instead of burning hours, hiring more, or upskilling everyone, embrace computational design operations (CD Ops). This framework orchestrates people, processes, and products to maximize the impact of CD at scale. Think of it as the DevOps revolution for design, promoting iterative improvements and rapid scaling.

The Three Pillars of CD Ops:

Pillar 1: Design Systems

Bridging the physical and digital, it provides a shared language and reference point for teams. Think principles, toolkits, pattern libraries, templates, and standards – like a lexicon for computational design. This system fosters collaboration, streamlines processes, and ensures consistency. 

Imagine a Design System for designing sustainable packaging. It would include guidelines for using recycled materials, optimizing weight and dimensions, and incorporating clear recycling instructions. 

Design Systems enable reusability, making scale possible. They act as a single source of truth, reducing redundancy and accelerating innovation.

Pillar 2: Design Patterns

These are repeatable ways to solve problems computationally. Stored in a Pattern Library, they evolve over time and form a design language for your organization. This language becomes your ownable brand advantage and your intellectual property. 

Imagine a pattern for optimizing airflow in a heat sink, a pattern for generating personalized product recommendations, or a pattern for designing accessible user interfaces.

Design Patterns define how you solve problems computationally, becoming a unique language for your organization. They capture best practices and accelerate problem-solving.

Pillar 3: Practices & Behaviors

These define how your Design System evolves. It's about capturing and using patterns effectively, especially in team settings. Think continuous development, collaboration, and documentation. Practices & behaviors foster a culture of continuous improvement and knowledge sharing.

Imagine regular pattern workshops to identify new patterns and update existing ones, version control for patterns, and clear guidelines for contributing to the pattern library.

Practices & Behaviors ensure your Design System grows and adapts, bringing teams together to build and deploy it strategically.

More Than Software:

CD Ops transcends software – it applies to your tools, industry, and team size. It's not a heavy lift either; think lessons learned, documented knowledge, and an evolving language.

Real-world Case Studies:

  • A leading aerospace manufacturer implemented CD Ops to streamline the design of complex aircraft components. By using a Design System with pre-approved materials and standardized design patterns, they reduced design time by 30% and improved product consistency.

  • A consumer goods company used CD Ops to personalize product recommendations for its online store. By leveraging design patterns for data analysis and user interface design, they increased conversion rates by 25%.

Additional Benefits of CD Ops:

  • Improved product quality: Design Systems and Patterns ensure consistency and adherence to best practices, leading to fewer errors and higher quality products.

  • Reduced waste: By reusing components and patterns, CD Ops minimizes the need to create new designs from scratch, reducing design waste and associated costs.

  • Enhanced decision-making: Data-driven design patterns provide insights into user behavior and product performance, informing better design decisions.

  • Increased agility: CD Ops enables teams to adapt to changing requirements quickly and efficiently by leveraging reusable components and patterns.

The future of design is computational, and CD Ops is the key to unlocking its full potential. If you're ready to scale your design capabilities, embrace CD Ops and start building your own design language.

Ready to scale your innovation process with CD Ops?

Don't let the complexities of computational design hinder your innovation. Reach out to us today to see how CD Ops can catapult your design initiatives to new heights!

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