“We can make tomorrow better than today.”
Green Shoe Garage’s Guiding Principle
Our “Secret Sauce” Design Workflow
There have been a lot of design paradigms over the years. As you search for a design partner you will be peppered with terms like Agile development, SCRUM, Lean manufacturing philosophy, Six Sigma quality management, human-centered design, design thinking, kanban, chaos engineering, and perhaps even a dash of the good old traditional systems engineering mindset. Some design firms treat these like religions while others dismiss them as nothing more than buzzwords. We believe there are valuable insights in each of these concepts and employ the best of each in a homebrewed design and engineering workflow. Our goal is to build products for our clients that are built tough, easy to use, user maintainable, and cost-effective. Our struggle with existing paradigms were many, such as:
- Agile and SCRUM are very software-centric. What about hardware products?
- Traditional systems engineering added a lot of non-value added work. Great for large systems that will be maintained for 25-100 years. What about products that have to get to market fast?
- Six Sigma was great for large companies where the benefits outweighed the overhead incurred. What about small and nimble start-ups?
- Our team is geographically dispersed, so paper-driven processes won’t work. Can we be completely digital for engineering, project management, and customer support?
- Security always seems like an afterthought. How can we bake security into the product design process?
Our brainstorming sessions led to this piece of art:
While it made a lot of sense to us, it doesn’t elegantly answer the question “What is your design workflow?” So we attempted to condense the workflow diagram into these 9 steps we employ on most of our projects include:
- Figuring Out What You Want: Functional analysis, requirements development, “ideation”, rapid prototyping.
- Exploring Potential Solutions: Conceptual analysis and design; feasibility studies, prototypes/mockups. top-level system architecture.
- Refining the Big Picture: Proofs-of-concept, iterative design/test loop, short-duration builds.
- Design the Solution: Detailed design and engineering; build your Bill of Materials (BOM), refine the design to be manufacturable and sustainable.
- Build the Solution: Leverage our in-house fab lab to manufacture as much as possible in-house. We also work with our global partners to fabricate assemblies and components that require more complex industrial tooling. We then do the final assembly of the looks-like/works-like prototype. Prepare final Design for Manufacturing (DfM) documentation; BOM, CAD packages.
- Test the Tech: Unit testing and integration testing; verification of technology, design, and engineering; validate failure modes analysis.
- Test the Product: Validate the solution, user acceptance testing, life testing in real-world environments. and system optimization based on feedback.
- Hack and Harden: Assess any cyber and physical vulnerabilities that can be potentially exploited and design/implement solutions.
- Prepare for Manufacturing: Low-volume manufacturing to help refine the BOM, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), M/ECAD packages, source code. Lastly, we can put you in contact with industry-leading manufacturing partners to guide you on the next steps.
Our Design Ethos
To achieve our goals of fast, efficient design we also employ other design and engineering strategies such as:
- Modular design strategy, reconfigurable products.
- Maximize re-use of already available open-source hardware and software. Even when we use proprietary components, we ensure that anything built atop of a closed platform is kept open-sourced. We also use only software tools that are FOSS or have maker friendly versions.
- The agile development process, code/build a little, and then test a little. Keep iterating fast.
- Heavy client engagement and communication throughout the process. Our clients are team members, not customers.
- Data-Driven. Analytic Hierarchy Process-based trade studies and decision-making support.
- Document early, document often.
Empowering Our Clients
We take pride in our belief in the validity of the open-source movement and as such we realize their importance by what we provide our clients. All designs give you access to the following:
- Feasibility studies, specifications, and evaluation reports
- Schematic / PCB / Gerber files
- CAD design and fabrication files of all mechanical components
- Bill of Materials (BOM)
- Software/firmware source code
- Working prototypes
- Project documentation and final assembly instructions
- Video tutorial and professional product photography
- Technical and artistic illustrations
- License to use for commercial purposes included
Vitruvius’ Principles for Good Architecture
– Utilitas (Utility): It should be useful, function well for the people using it.
– Venustatis (Beauty): It should delight people and raise their spirits.