Some creations are the product of collective effort, and could not be imagined from any other source. Often a group of
people brings together a range of talents and capabilities and applies them to generate results that reflect both their
individual capabilities and a collective creativity that is more than the sum of their individual efforts.
|| Computer systems were critical to both collaboration and creativity in deploying the Boeing 777.
Boeing 777: A Case Study
A jet airliner is one of the most complicated products designed by modern engineers. It contains literally millions of
individually designed parts, which must work together to meet the very highest standards of performance, reliability, and
safety. The latest major jet design by the Boeing Company, its 777, is a model of collaborative creativity on an extraordinary
The collaboration behind the Boeing 777, however, is interesting not simply for its scope but also for the pioneering
communication methods it relied on. This was the first major aircraft designed using extensive computer networking to
bring together thousands of engineers working on every phase of the project at the same time. Although many never met in
person, the computer system promoted a collaborative process that was so central to the project that the 777's slogan was
The computer system behind the 777's collaborative design included more than 2,200 workstations linked through eight
large mainframe computers. At the heart of the system was software developed by IBM and Dassault Systèmes, called
CATIA, for "Computer-Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application." Boeing extended this with a system called EPIC,
for "Electronic Pre-assembly In the Computer," allowing engineers in disparate locations to design and test "virtual"
prototypes of crucial components of the airplane.
Designing airplanes has, ever since the Wright brothers, been a collaborative effort. The design of the Boeing 777 jetliner, however, took the idea of creative collaboration further by adopting new technologies and new organizational techniques. Among the most important of these were Design Build Teams, made up of engineers, technicians, accountants, and others.