Mustard, Microscope, __? Submit the Best PLM Metaphor and Win a Prize

By Derek

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The inaugural Dassault Systèmes Customer Conference (lovingly referred to here and on Twitter as #DSCC09) spent quite a bit of time illuminating just “What is PLM?”

You’d think a 600 person conference on PLM by the leader in the space (yes, contradictory claims/flames to derek.lane[at]3ds.com, please) wouldn’t need to focus on just what is PLM. Everybody there already knows what it is, otherwise they wouldn’t be there, right?

Well, yes. But there’s still a reason for the focus.

Day Two of DSCC opened with a Jaywalking-style Man on the Street video asking Orlandonians “Do you know what PLM is?” As Fabien Fedida, director of global offer strategy, stated in the video below, each and every attendee is part of (perhaps) the best kept secret in the world (except for that whole Da Vinci Code thing, of course!).

YouTube Preview Image

While the passers-by didn’t realize it, PLM impacts nearly everything in their lives, from their cars, to their phones, to the shirts and shoes they wear. As part of the communications team, I’m constantly wondering, how can I best explain PLM not only to such passers-by, but also to more savvy individuals?

Is it the spicy mustard of collaboration that holds the ham & cheese sandwich of product development together, as Josh Mings of SolidSmack put it?

Josh spicy mustard on Twitter

Or is it the strategic electron microscope that brings the complex, interlocking molecules of product development into focus?

348px-Ernst_Ruska_Electron_Microscope_-_Deutsches_Museum_-_Munich-editSuch analogies are useful explanatory techniques, but they are reflective of something much more important. How we describe things (dare I say, “visualize” things?) determines how we think about them.

Analogizing PLM and describing it goes straight to the heart of an executive’s own mental processes, or a company’s own philosophical and strategic perspectives on product development.

How a company thinks about PLM determines how they implement it, what they expect from it, and how it changes their company’s innovation processes. This is the Observer Effect in action.

As a customer was overheard saying to a senior DS executive at DSCC,

I don’t care if my V6 project works perfectly or not. What I care about is how [PLM 2.0] will alter my guys’ thinking about creating, innovating, and collaborating. It will shift an engineering mindset to a broader innovation mindset.

Let’s keep asking ourselves, “What is PLM?” Let’s talk about how we perceive PLM, how we describe it. In the long run, it will shape how PLM works.

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© BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

For the record, if we have to go with a food metaphor, I don’t think it’s spicy mustard. Too limiting.

PLM is the entire chicken sandwich of product development, with a dash of collaborative (spicy) mustard and mayo slathered all over the CAD chicken, digital manufacturing tomatoes and FEA lettuce, plus the all important consumer-experience wheat bread.

So, spicy mustard? Electron microscope? Chicken sandwich? Take our poll below and then submit your own PLM metaphors in the comments section. In addition to PLM fame, the winning metaphor gets you a personalized t-shirt boasting the metaphor. Be sure to wear it to the next DSCC! (Spicy mustard and electron microscope ideas excluded. Sorry, Josh!)


Best,

Derek

P.S. Don’t forget to submit your metaphors in the comments section below!

Derek Lane is PR manager for Dassault Systèmes Americas. Derek Lane




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4 responses to “Mustard, Microscope, __? Submit the Best PLM Metaphor and Win a Prize”

  1. Heloisa says:

    So, let´s play the metaphor game! Firt, please picture your favorite cake in your mind……Ready?!

    Now, in a fun way to describe what PLM is about, I would say it is about your cake receipt summed up to a mixer, being both of them responsible for combinining everything(the flour, the eggs, the and anything else you would like to add…straberries? Chocolate? Whipped cream?)and making sure every little ingredient is at its right place in order for us to enjoy a delicious and out of the world dessert aftewards, just like you first imagined…….

  2. Derek says:

    Interesting way of describing it! I certainly like the cake analogy as the end result/product. (Can you tell I haven’t had lunch yet?)

    But doesn’t that relegate PLM to a coordinating/management role, when it is also a creative strategy? Not just about mixing things together, but also creating those ingredients.

    I think this is where food analogies break down. PLM’s authoring element would be… the creation of the flour? That doesn’t seem right.

    I guess all analogies have their breaking point.

  3. Tom Crume (COE President) says:

    “PLM” ??? Seems to me to bea “bouillabaisse”….

  4. Derek says:

    Oh, now that’s interesting! What do you mean?

    (and did I poison the soup with too many food metaphors? Anybody got a NON-food metaphor?)

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