In VE you first convert your product or process into a number of word-pairs called Functions. If you ask, when considering a product or process, What does it do?, the answer should be given in a series of two-word sentences – an "active verb" followed by a "measureable noun" - such as separate Fluids. The remainder of the study then concentrates on the word-pairs rather than on the current equipment or process in the design. We call this Function Analysis.
By concentrating creativity these two-word Functions, the VE team greatly minimizes “functional fixedness.” For example, you can be more creative when tackling a problem defined in terms of "Separate Fluids" than one defined in terms of “Make a better Coalescer."
The team gains a more creative focus. They no longer focus primarily on the mechanical explanation of the product, but instead focuses on what the product does for the customer. The team can capture the essence of a complex product or process using these unambiguous statements. This is called a Function Diagram or "FAST Diagram" and is used to guide creativity. FAST Diagram example.