This thesis is an in depth exploration of the practice of new product development (NPD). To develop complex products, large multidisciplinary teams are necessary that are nowadays located at multiple sites around the world. The teams deal with many topics requiring the expertise of several specialists simultaneously. They have to decide together if something is a problem; negotiate whose problem it is; propose multidisciplinary solutions; and align their activities into a seamless whole. Stated differently: team members have to ‘think collectively’. A large part of this thesis is about understanding this elusive topic, which is named team cognition.
One of those specialists inside the NPD teams is a designer, focusing on the usability and experience of use of products. Although there is a vast body of literature on both NPD and design, literature on designers in teams is remarkably absent.
This thesis attempts to fill this gap and frames designers in-the-wild, interacting with many others. The findings establish a strong relation between the practice of designers and team cognition in NPD teams. The user centered framing of designers, their imaginative capabilities and their expressive skills enables to span complex boundaries within and across NPD teams. Yet, designers are not nominated boundary spanners, rather the boundary spanning capabilities is a by-product of their design practice. We named this ‘mirroring’, which is conceptualized as the dynamical and ongoing redrafting of representations of the intended product, enabling team members to align and coordinate activities cross-disciplinary.
The thesis, an extensive summary (English booklet) and the appendices. All information you may need: choose as you please.