Explorative Application of the Multi-Domain Matrix Methodology in Lean Design

Fabian A. Furtmeier1 & Iris D. Tommelein2

1Dipl.-Ing., Graduate student, Institute of Product Development, Technical University of Munich, Germany, [email protected]
2Professor, Civil and Env. Engineering. Department, and Director of the Project Production Systems Laboratory (p2sl.berkeley.edu), 215-A McLaughlin Hall, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, USA, Phone +1 510/643-8678, FAX 510/643-8919, [email protected]


Structural complexity management provides a new approach to manage complexity resulting from a system‘s structure. It originated in the field of product development and applies the Multiple-Domain Matrix (MDM) methodology. The MDM methodology is based on the Design Structure Matrix (DSM) and focuses on the analysis and optimization of the underlying structures of a system. Therefore, it extends the capabilities of the DSM by integrating multiple domains and enabling the deduction of indirect dependencies. Dependencies that cannot be captured directly in a DSM can be computed by means of the MDM. Because construction projects are similar to extensive product development processes, methodologies developed for product development should be applicable in lean design in AEC industry. Construction processes can be complex systems themselves. In order to avoid waste, these systems should be designed more accurate in the first place rather than improved while in operation. However, this requires process mapping tools that offer the capability to handle complex process networks. This paper explores the applicability of the MDM methodology as a process mapping tool in lean design. Therefore, the paper depicts the MDM methodology and illustrates an approach for mapping processes in lean construction by means of the MDM using the example of the design of a plumbing installation process. Objective of the MDM application is to enhance process mapping by use of deduction of dependencies. Further, conclusions for future state map generation are provided based on analysis of the process‘ underlying structure.


Complexity, Design structure matrix, Multi-domain matrix, Process mapping, Value stream mapping



Furtmeier, F. A. & Tommelein, I. D. 2010. Explorative Application of the Multi-Domain Matrix Methodology in Lean Design, 18th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 151-160. doi.org/

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