Bringing successful innovative products to the market is in many cases a balance between targeted innovation and the reuse of existing technology. If this integration fails designers also need to look for innovative solutions at the last minute to integrate new and old parts. To avoid this ‘emergency’ innovation, designers need to understand how different parts of a product are connected to each other and how changes to one component affect other components. This paper reports on a method to predict how change propagates through existing products to assess the risk of innovation. A product is represented as a square matrix and the pair wise dependencies between components are captured with likelihood and impact values, such that indirect risk can be calculated. Using various graphic representations of the structure of the product, designers can explore dependencies between components and avoid design choices that might force them to change highly connected parts.
Keywords: engineering change, innovation, conceptual design