In recent years, industry has stressed the need for graduates who are capable of designing new products. It is not the strongest, not the smartest, but the fittest products become successful. The greatest opportunity to influence performance of new products lies in the early stages of the design process. For more reasons this phase is lacking teaching methodologies, operational models and computer support. Inspired by simplicity and yet strength of the theory of evolution we define an analytical view of the design process which supports appearance of product performance. We introduce a generic operational model supported by a software tool and relate this model to the design terminology and several other theories including creativity techniques, TRIZ, performance management, knowledge management, operations research, software design and genetic algorithms. The conducted case-studies show how our results can be integrated smoothly into the design process and applied in higher design education. This work should help design students to develop analytical skills and approach successful product.