Trade-Off Charts for learning, exploring, optimization, and innovation


Trade-Off Charts are just one of the many easy-to-use visual modeling tools that are supported by our Success Assured™ software... but they are a particularly important one that is nearly impossible to do with other toolsets... at least when faced with real-world problems which are:

  • Multi-dimensional... 2 or 3 dimensions is easy to chart... but most tools can't handle more; in contrast, 8 dimensional problems are small in the real-world... 18-dimensional are not uncommon
  • Multi-relational... many packages are designed to chart the particular relationship they are analyzing just fine; but generally we need to pull together analyses from many different tools of many different relations that must all be considered when making a decision
  • In need of validation... you have to be able to trust the charts to make decisions upon them
  • In need of ongoing continuous improvement... we continue to apply our products and technologies in new domains, we continue to stretch them beyond prior limits, and as we do we need to be able to refine the knowledge

The human brain is an amazing 3D processor... but struggles to comprehend anything above 3 dimensions.  Only the elite thinkers can really handle more than 5 dimensions... and even those are limited to 8 or 9.  So, given almost all real world problems are 6 or more dimensions, how can your teams possibly come to consensus decisions based on proper understanding of all the knowledge (all the impacts of those decisions)?  They can't ... they need help!


To make such decisions well, teams need to be able to look at their multi-dimensional design space from multiple perspectives, see what they can see, and then continue to explore based on that new understanding.  By being able to see many different 3D slices through that multi-dimensional space and rapidly navigate through that multi-dimensional space, the entire team can begin to develop a deep understanding of the whole multi-dimensional design space!

To enable that, our Success Assured™ software makes it easy to:

  • Capture the individual relations between the different decisions you make and the various customer and business interests in a computable form... even when you don't have equations, just measured data points, or even just rough rules of thumb or intuition
  • Combine multiple such relations into bigger picture Trade-Off Charts that show the combined design space
  • Easily reconfigure the Trade-Off Charts to show different 3D slices through the multi-dimensional design spaces, enabling them to deal with the real-world complexity
  • From the same captured knowledge, generate Trade-Off Solvers that can compute the min and max values that are possible given all the different limits that have been captured
  • Rapidly "what if" different sets of values for each decision and see the impact on the design space
  • Display a map of the causal relationships generated from that same captured knowledge, but providing yet another perspective to help the human brains involved gain deeper understanding of the multi-dimensional space
  • From any Trade-Off Chart, answer the question "what is this chart based upon?  where did the knowledge come from?" with the click of a button... get a visual depiction of the underlying knowledge from which you can navigate directly to the K-Briefs with the details (you can't gain consensus unless everyone can see the knowledge, understand it, and trust it)

To hear from Dr. Allen Ward directly on the value of Trade-Off Charts, watch the video here.

Contact us to learn more why Success Assured™ software is the most powerful trade-off chart solution available.  Feed us the data for your own trade-off challenge and we'll be happy to show you how it looks in our tools!

Why isn't Excel good enough for this?

The spreadsheet is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) software tools ever invented (thanks, Dan Bricklin).  But that doesn't mean it's the best tool for every job.  Here's the top 10 reasons to use Success Assured™ software for creating Trade-Off Charts instead of Excel:

1.  It easily handles multi-dimensional (not limited to just 3 dimensional) charts... that is very difficult with Excel.

2.  It easily handles multi-equation scenarios without you needing to rewrite your equations in a specific direction, ...

    a. ... making the underlying knowledge far easier to reuse.

    b. ... allowing your engineers to explore the design space effortlessly.

3.  It handles relations for which you don't know the equations... without need for curve fitting meaningless equations (mis-information).

4.  It handles non-quantitative design decisions far easier.

5.  It allows you to display multiple different trade-off curves on one trade-off chart such that...

    a.  ... you can easily see the design window, while also

    b.  ... you can see the sensitivities to the different decisions.

6.  It displays inequalities as well as equalities... and it displays them such that they can easily be understood in the face of multiple inequalities in one chart.

7.  It is unit-aware, so...

    a.  ... your engineers don't waste time doing unit conversions.

    b.  ... your equations are not further complicated by unit conversions.

    c.  ... it can find common mistakes by identifying unit mismatches.

8.  From any trade-off chart you can generate the corresponding cause & effect map...

    a.  ... allowing you to easily explain where the information from the chart came from.

    b.  ... allowing you to far more easily analyze and innovate on what's behind the trade-off curves.

    c.  ... allowing you to more easily explore multi-dimensional design spaces (particularly coupled with the next feature...).

9.  From those cause & effect maps, you can visually configure your charts to help your engineers figure out how best to analyze the design space.

10.  From any trade-off chart, you can generate a corresponding trade-off solver that will help you find the more optimal parts of the design space.

If you have some trade-off charts in Excel, we'd be happy to throw them into our Success Assured™ software and let you see the differences.  Contact us now.

Or, if you have equations or data that was too complex to generate charts for in Excel, we are also happy to throw that into Success Assured™... you may quickly get some new insights on some of your current design problems.

Contact us now to learn more
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