Identifying Product Development Crises: The Potential of Adaptive Heuristics

Christopher Münzberger, Verena Stingl, Josef Oehmen, Joana Geraldi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


This paper introduces adaptive heuristics as a tool to identify crises in design projects and highlights potential applications of these heuristics as decision support tool for crisis identification. Crises may emerge slowly or suddenly, and often have ambiguous signals. Thus the identification of a project crisis is often difficult. Yet, to allow fast crisis response, timely identification is critical for successful crisis management. Adaptive heuristics are judgement strategies that can strive in circumstances of limited and ambiguous information. This article presents a theoretical proposition for the application of heuristics in design sciences. To achieve this, the paper compares crises to 'business as usual', and presents sixteen indicators for emerging crises. These indicators are potential cues for adaptive heuristics. Specifically three adaptive heuristics, One-single-cue, Fast-and-Frugal-Trees, and Tallying, are well suited to support design practitioners to make robust inferences about the situation. The paper presents potential applications of these three heuristics and provides an outlook on further research on adaptive heuristics in design sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED17) : Vol. 2: Design Processes. Design Organisation and Management
EditorsAnja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Number of pages10
PublisherDesign Society
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event21st International Conference on Engineering Design. ICED 17 - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017
Conference number: 21


Conference21st International Conference on Engineering Design. ICED 17
Internet address


  • Decision making
  • Project management
  • Uncertainty
  • Crisis
  • Adaptive heuristics

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