Hierarchy of Objectives

During design process, attempts to meet many project goals and requirements concurrently often causes a creative cramp. Hierarchy of Objectives method aims to make the project goals more manageable by organizing the project requirements in a hierarchical order based on their importances. This prioritized list of objectives forms a basis for design decisions as the project guideline.


  1. To begin with, project statement and keywords that are defining the problem are written down.
    Project statement: Design a flat-packed seating unit for both indoor and outdoor environment that could be purchased online.
    Keywords: seating unit, flat-packed, indoor & outdoor environment, online/postable.
  2. Each project goal and requirement is written on a separate sticky note and colour coded under user, technical and environmental categories. These objectives may be derived from the research and/or personal goals.
    Hierarchy of Objectives 01
  3. Three rows are drawn on a whiteboard or paper, which is then horizontally divided into three as must, should and could from top to bottom.
  4.  Each project goal written on the sticky notes are grouped according to their importance as must, could and should.
    Hierarchy of Objectives 02
    Requirements that are critical to project success are placed under must. Keywords that form the project statement mainly fall under this category.
    The product must use materials that are suitable for both outdoor and indoor environment.
    Product must be manufactured using 5-axis CNC machine.
    Statements that are  less forceful than must are placed under should. These are the statements that the designer strives to achieve as much as possible.
    Potential purchasers of the product should find it aesthetically pleasing.
    The product should be self-explanatory when assembling by the user.
    The product should not use any joints or adhesives.
    Goals that are considered desirable but not necessary are placed under could category. They may also reflect preferences of style, or personal biases that the designer brings to the project.
    The seating unit could be recyclable and biodegradable.