Building Your Continual Innovation Model “Car” 

 August 4, 2015

By  Howard Cooper

OK. As promised in my last Blog entry, let’s build your innovation model “car”. We will assemble and describe the seven innovation methodologies, each integrated into proper configuration to serve their separate functions in a system designed and built to safely and swiftly transport you and your entire company along the road of innovation and into a brighter future. There are hundreds of websites espousing innovation and thousands of companies utilizing one or two of these seven methods of innovation. They describe their “unique” methodologies by more than 50 different names, but as Yoda would say, “Methodology does not always a complete system make.” Then, there are other thousands of companies who tell us in their advertising how innovative they are, but deliver only a slight new look, with little or no improved functionality, reliability, safety, or ease of use.

sub-systems of an automobile as an analogy to innovation methodologies

We discussed, in the last Blog entry, how any system; business process, mechanical or electrical system, can be aligned against the 5 key subsystems of a car, to see, by functional comparison, if it is missing something, or is a complete functional system. We illustrated that concept by showing the seven subsystems (innovation methodologies) integrated into the i3day system for facilitating client’s innovation efforts; the essential 5, plus 2 more for improved control (see the car model). Integrated and properly employed as a cohesive, unified system for empowering rapid innovation or for facilitating teams and companies through their problem identification, solution generation, development, execution and deployment cycles.

Whether it be a;

1. one hour think tank session, a
2. 2-3 day on-site problem solving, FMEA, Root Cause Analysis and innovative solutions workshop, or
3. facilitating an entire project through its design, development and market roll-out;

If each of these 7 methods is not understood and employed at the right time, and in proper sequence with the others, then the result may be delayed, less than fully functional with ‘down-sides, high costs or risks. Or, the result may be ‘off mark’ all together.

So, today, lets identify and discuss these 7 Methods of innovation and how they each serve as a key subsystem within a fully functional system for achieving consistent continual innovation. Each method is represented, below, by its founder and by the one or two best books describing that innovation method. (The Methods are numbered  in  sequence of best explanation, below, whereas in the “car” illustration (at right) they are numbered in sequence of application, or the way energy flows through a system):

The Truth about Testla

Method 1:
Closed Innovation
Founder / Leader:
Nikola Tesla
Book: “The Truth About Tesla” (The lone genius in the history of innovation)
Author: Christopher Cooper
Book: “Patent It Yourself” (Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing with the U.S. Patent Office)
Author: Nolo Press

With all that is said these days about “open innovation”, group engineering, one team engineering, and team or group brainstorming, collaborative engineering, etc., here is what Nikola Tesla had to say on the subject,

“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alive–that is the secret of invention; be alive –that is when ideas are born.” — Nikola Tesla

Another advantage of “closed innovation” is increased protection of intellectual property. Often secret recipe is better than patented recipe.

However, in human nature, our greatest ‘strength’ often becomes our greatest ‘weakness’. Tesla’s reclusive nature damaged his ability to negotiate for funding and gain market exposure to get his inventions out into the real world. There is also a time and place for “Open Innovation”. (see method 3)

Edison on Innovation

Method 2:
Experimental Innovation
Founder / Leader:
Thomas A Edison
Book: “Edison on Innovation”
Author: Alan Axelrod

Experimental Innovation is best typified by Thomas Edison, who said, “Experiment on everything.” Experiment by building a working model and experimenting with it, trial test and correct errors. Edison said, “I have not failed, I have simply found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Experimenting with something else to see what will work. Edison said, “Invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” This became the model for American Research and Development. Build models and test them to see how they work and how they don’t work, then “try, try again”. This is also the way Leonardo Da Vici describes the way he approached his inventions. Experimental Innovation has its purposes and advantages, but used alone it is a huge disadvantage (as you will see, without these other methods). Companies are no longer wanting to pay for this kind of R&D.

Nikola Tesla, who once worked for Thomas Edison, verifies the Edison experimental method when he described,”

“If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. … I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.”

We will model this Da Vici – Edison method in a future Blog, quoting from “Strategies of Genius” by Robert B. Dilts, then we will show five ways it can be improved to optimize creativity and results (output), but for now . . .

Open Business Models

Method 3:
Open Innovation
Founder / Leader:
Henry Chesbrough
Book: “Open Business Models” (How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape)
Author: Henry Chesbrough
Book: “The Open Innovation Revolution”
Author: Stefan Lindergaard

Beginning in the 1960’s, Henry Chesbrough began writing about and teaching “Open Innovation” based on the premise of “Don’t reinvent the wheel”. Why design, build and test when you can simply buy or license what you need. Use the strength and speed of specialty manufacturing companies to get the parts you need to complete your system. There are ways to keep your intellectual property safe, by describing required inputs, output(s) and controls without divulging your system and secrets. This speeds development time and increases quality, safety, reliability, etc.. Introduction of computers, databases and Internet networks have brought new speed and new names for “Open Innovation” such as Collaborative Innovation, Co-Opetition, or Advanced Product Selection (APS), but they are simply good variations on a theme (open innovation). Using Open Innovation allows development and manufacturing tasks to run in parallel to save on development time and costs as well as speed time-to-market. It also allows you to find new markets for your system or invention. Again, the risk is losing your intellectual property or patent rights. You always have that risk, when you take your idea to market, but knowing and applying principles in these two books will protect you and leverage time so you can be the “firstest with the mostest”, therefore the most successful in your marketplace.

Innovation on DemandMethod 4:
TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving)
Founder / Leader:
Genrich Altshuller
Book: “40 Principles – Extended Edition” (TRIZ Keys to Technical Innovation)
Author: Genrich Altshuller
Book: “Innovation on Demand” (New Product Development using TRIZ)
Author: Victor Fay

Genrich Altshuller (1926-1998) stood, in time, directly on the shoulders of Edison, Tesla, Marconi, Einstein, and all the inventors of the industrial, electronic and computer era’s. Altshuller was a brilliant engineer in the Russian Navy and later spent his life as a patent examiner. His fascination was to discover useful patterns, thinking processes and principles used by creative and innovative engineers by studying their patents. He studied over 200,000 patents over his working career, to discover, document and teach TRIZ, the Theory of Innovative Problem Solving.
40 Principles - TRIZ Keys to Technical InnovationHe found there are only three categories of innovation (3 kinds of problems to be solved);
a. System constraints (parameter conflicts);
b. Physical contradictions or constraints and
c. Predicting or forecasting the next iteration of a system or device to enhance functionality or economy within a system.

He discovered the “40 Principles”. Each solution concept for each of the 200,000 patents was based on one or two of theses 40 Principles. He then formed the TRIZ Matrix to show the design constraints or parameter conflicts solved by each of the 40 Principles. He also laid out the nine patterns of evolution for any device or system and developed the nine-windows tool to help determine or predict the next design iteration or invention that will enhance system functionality and reduce costs.

i3DAY has created easy to use spreadsheets and eTools that structure the TRIZ process and facilitate use of the TRIZ principles without having to read TRIZ books nor lookup or sort through the 40 Principles for your solution.

TRIZ becomes the “engine” in our Innovation Model “car”. The fast generation of powerful and capable innovative concepts is certainly the Engine of any innovation methodology.

Does your vehicle have an engine? Or, is it currently powered by a “single arm”, a “single brain”, or by “two legs”. Brainstorming and/or group discussions would certainly be considered a manually powered vehicle (or bicycle) compared to an Innovation System with TRIZ leveraging the lessons learned from 200,000 patents. Actually as of this writing, the European and US TRIZ Associations have gone further than Altshuller by studying over a million patents, thus verifying that TRIZ still stands firm on the 40 Principles. i3DAY eTools have simply reduced the time and energy required to pull up the principle(s) you will need next, to solve your problem(s).

Next, you must ensure that the power put forth from your engine (the innovative concepts generated) actually get applied, to the “wheels” where the “rubber meets the road” (realized in the market place). This requires a “drive train” between the engine and the wheels.

Six Thinking Hats

Method 5:
Lateral Thinking 
Founder / Leader:
Edward De Bono (International Best Seller, Helping Business Leaders Think)
Book: “Six Thinking Hats”
Author: Edward de Bono

Ed de Bono, born 19 May 1933, is a Maltese physician, psychologist, author, inventor and consultant, developed and taught a process of applying “Six Hats Thinking” to generate lateral movement along the time line of problem identification, root cause analysis, optional solutions generation and solution implementation, rather than getting caught up in “circular thinking” or “round-table discussions” where problems and opportunities go around month after month and year after year, until the idea or concept never gets implemented.

Schools in over 20 countries have included de Bono thinking tools into their curriculum and He has consulted with many government and corporate groups around the globe.
The alternative is to do what most companies do, let new ideas die, either by; “circular thinking”, “that’s not what we do here” thinking, or by “analysis paralysis”. It is not innovation until it has been implemented.

As discussed in an earlier Blog entry, when you combine the power and velocity of concept generation with TRIZ, with improved direction and carry through, or linear path with a “Six Hats Team” to apply lateral thinking, you create a vector (vector = direction X velocity). Therefore “lateral thinking” turns into “vector logic” and your ideas and concepts propel themselves into reality.

Reinventing Project Management

Method 6:
Diamond PM
Founder / Leader: Aaron J Shenhar
Book: “Reinventing Project Management” (The diamond approach to successful growth and Innovation)
Author: Aaron J Shenhar

For larger companies who follow strictly their Systems Engineering Process and/or their ISO-9001 quality process, innovation is almost impossible. It is simply not in the process to innovate along the way. They may start out with an innovative idea or concept, but corporate processes call for “compliance” not creativity or innovative problem solving. Lean initiatives have been introduced at the expense of billions, nationwide, to train and empower employees to follow their company process and provide their goods and services more efficiently. Six Sigma initiatives have been introduced at the cost of billions, nationwide, to teach employees how to create and optimize these processes so that following them will produce better quality (or repeatability–exactly the same) products. But, there is little being done to train employees to be innovative, or to train and certify “Innovation Black Belts”, to teach, consult and facilitate innovation throughout the development and manufacture of a product, process, or service.

At smaller companies, implementing a lateral thinking team (Method 5) may be all that is needed. They can facilitate the larger team and company leaders through use of these innovation methods. But, at larger companies, with fixed processes demanding compliance, a new kind of Process and Program Management Strategy is required (as explained in “Reinventing Project Management). Aaron J Shenhar has years of experience in Project Management for military and non-military development and manufacturing projects. He reveals in this most timely book (c. 2007) how to move your process and your Project Management objectives beyond the traditional completion; on scope, on time and on budget. Shenhar’s modified process includes an additional four metrics to accommodate and track successful innovation, innovative proper correction, and dynamically adjusting to customer needs as the project progresses. Better insuring success. If your organization is process driven, i3DAY has identified 23 points in the normal ISO-9001, systems engineering company process where innovation needs to be considered. Usually 30-60 minute “think tank sessions” can be applied at these critical points in the company process, to empower real innovative solutions. Thus very innovative products to better meet customer wants and needs.

This modified process and Diamond PM management objectives empower the Project Manager to truly steer the project and make innovative corrective actions along the way. It is like adding power steering to the “car’s” control systems.

The Innovator's Dilema

Method 7:
Disruptive Innovation
Founder / Leader: Clayton Christensen
Book: “The Inventors Delema”
Author: Clayton Christensen

Last, but not least are the importance of “brakes” on a car. Disruptive Innovations, are defined by and explained in detail in “The Innovators Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen, born April 6, 1952.
Identifying a “Disruptive Innovation” and slowing down, to deal with it, is much like driving in the dark and identifying a deer crossing the road. If you don’t react immediately and appropriately it can kill your “car” (company). Christensen explains, it doesn’t matter whether the disruptive innovation was created by your company, or by another company, it can still kill you. He explains why and provides models for best managing and taking advantage of these disruptive innovations, rather than getting blind-sighted and severely injured. Disruptive Innovations may or may not be “break-through innovation” and they are not seen as beneficial to your customers, because the unit cost is much higher than current unit cost. They also underperform current product. So, how can that be beneficial? And, how could it ever disrupt or destroy my company or my market? The key is that for a huge untapped market there is no other product currently to do what they need. Also, the fledgling innovation will grow in capability until it can also satisfy your current customers, as well.

So many innovations rising from nano-technology, computer technology and the new IOT technology are disruptive. A few past examples, the 3 1/2″ floppy drive, the 3 1/2″ disk drive, the thumb drive, cloud storage, the GoProtm camera, the FitBittm, the smart-phone, etc.. Consider; what came before each of these, why were they rejected, for a time, what new market sector did they create and how did they grew to replace (kill) the predecessor technology or device.

Understanding the full definition of what constitutes a “Disruptive Innovation” is more important than whether you created it or not. However, it is imperative that you recognize when they come along. Learning to employ Christensen’s models to best manage the disruptive innovations will help you both avoid deadly “mine fields” and take advantage new innovations that look, now, like “frogs” but would help you soon become a “prince”.

Method 8:

i3DAY Innovationi3DAY Innovation Framework and Integration
Founder / Leader: Howard C Cooper
Book: i3DAYinnovation.com Blog
Author: Howard C Cooper

i3day.com helps companies and individuals get the training, certifications, and help with these seven Innovation Methods. i3DAY methods serve as the “car” frame. The Innovation eTools, and facilitating skills integrate the 7 Methods discussed above, into a complete workable system for continual innovation, for a more adventurous and prosperous future, in a world of rapid innovation.

We offer consulting, training and tools to facilitate;
A. one hour innovation think tanks
B. two or three day innovation workshops
C. facilitation of six month to three year projects

We train, certify or partner with you to expand the number of:

Brings potential clients to a Think Tank (to the TnkT-Lead)
Certified and Tested on i3DAY site & Video, & 90 min Webinar
Bring an acceptable Plan

i3DAY-ThkT-C [Think Tank Champion (Yellow Belt)]
The Organization’s Inside Think Tank champion identifies opportunities and need for a TnkT-Session (Think Tank)
Provides SPIN details.
Sponsors TnkT Sessions.
Certified and Tested on i3DAY Problem Categories
i3DAYinnovation.com & 90 min webinar
4 hours on SPIN, DMAIC, DCOV, Debono 7 and TRIZ-3 Prob Types & Tools, Open Innovation, Diamond PM, vs PMP-3. i3day on Corp Quality Process. Lead a Mgt Off-Site Day.

i3DAY-ThkT-L [Think Tank Lead (Green Belt)]
Leads ThkT-C, Business Development and
Responsible for ThkT Purpose and Org. Expanding Vision + ThkT Usage.
3 Completed Projects. (TRIZ, 6 Hats & SPIN Free Choice)
Votes from ThkT-F, TnkT-PM, or TnkT-CPA and ThkT-C
Certified and Tested on “40 Principles” Volume-1
“Innovation on Demand” 3-Prob Types and Tools.
deBono Six Hats, Innovators Delemma,
SPIN Selling. Purposes of diamond-PM and Open Innovation and i3day-CPA.

i3DAY-ThkT-F [Think Tank Facilitator (Black Belt)]
Facilitates SME’s and TT Session Teams
Online and Face-to-Face sessions
Bring Org documented, Innovative and
Optional solution concepts.
5 Completed Project. (Other 2 TRIZ, Open Innov or Disruptive)
Votes from TTL, TTM and Champion
Tested on “40 Principles” Volume-1
“Innovation on Demand”
deBono Six Hats, Innovators Dilemma,
SPIN Selling.

i3DAY-ThkT-M [Think Tank Master (Master Black Belt PM)]

CPA – Green Belt and Black Belt Certifications are also available with Nanotech and IOT emphasis.
Additional training on Nanotechnology and “Internet of Things” and how these can be leveraged by “the nine patterns of innovation” and the “40 Principles” to create a plethora of new inventions and devices to solve problems, drive expanding markets and fuel the new economy. Thus, an Innovation Black Belt-CPA is a Certified Professional Applications expert using nano-tech or IOT and i3DAY Innovation methods to guide, create and direct new product applications using these new technologies.

About the author

Howard C. Cooper is a Design for Six Sigma Black Belt, Systems Engineer and founder of i3DAY Innovation. Over the past decade he coached 26 different product development teams at General Dynamics through solving their most critical challenges; design constraints, safety, reliability, etc. All 26 design and development projects were accepted in critical design peer reviews. All 26 were adopted by the U.S. Army, currently saving $233 million per year, over the legacy systems they had been using.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}