When Bangle arrived at BMW in 1992, he found a company that was making scads of money, but that had a befuddled design department. Bangle understands the psyche of designers very well. “Emotional, sensitive, often egocentric artists don’t respond well to cold, rational arguments. They must be shielded from comments from people who don’t understand them or the artistic process.” One of the changes he instituted, therefore, was to insulate designers from engineers and shield them from an engineer’s comments and judgments too early in the process of choosing and finalizing a design. One member of his staff, Bangle says, who had worked up a design he was especially proud of, heard a manufacturing engineer denounce it as requiring too much new tooling. That designer was out for several days “sick” probably updating his resume, Bangle reckoned. Manufacturing engineers are infamous for trying to kill off bold design innovations sand in the gears that cost a company too many good ideas. Sure, simpler lines and curves are easier to manufacture without glitches. The tooling tends to be cheaper, too, which makes the manufacturing group shine with the accountants. But every aspect of a design should be fought over in the proper forum so that the difficulty and cost of making a part is weighed against the return to the brand in customer appeal. The top dogs who are paid to make those decisions would be allowed to make them. If engineers dissuade a designer too early in the process, the decision makers don’t have the best input on which to base their choices. The company loses the dynamic of debate between those who might settle for a boring car (the very antithesis of the BMW ideal!) and those who want the inside of the console to feel like a velvet glove.
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