Innovation – Fueled by failure, driven by success.

I am currently reading a book called “Innovation – the Attacker’s Advantage” by Richard Foster, although written and purchased a while ago (1980’s), it is still very interesting reading now that we can  travel back to the future, and still pertinent.

Another very good article on Innovation is from Stanford Graduate School of Business on why failure is considered a good thing:  Why Failure Drives Innovation.

My personal observations are that people of Mind set-1 (see Why Failure Drives Innovation)  rely on systems and procedures to improve what they have in an attempt to continue the success they once had.  Yes the tools such as 5S and six sigma and TQM and Lean and …..etc,   all add value to the process of improving quality and  reducing costs.

But it is the innovators, those that Baba Shiv calls Mind set-2, who are the ones that bring real success.   Improving what you have to the Nth degree is all fine and good and does save plenty of pennies. But this is neither sustainable nor effective in the long run – refer to Richard Foster’s  S-Curve pertaining to Performance vs Effort (funds).

Take land transport:  although humans have used the horse and donkey for a long time it was not until the invention of the wheel around 4,000-3,500 years ago when things really got moving, especially with the advent of the cart and chariot around 3,500 years ago.  But things remained slow for a couple of millennium, yes they improved the carts and wagons but they were still limited by the technology of the time. Then came steam during the 18th century and mass transportation began, people and goods being moved all over the country – but restricted to the rail corridor.  The next leap forward was the invention of the internal combustion engine by an innovator called Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir – although the automobile was not patented until 1890’s.  And now, we have car  companies improving the effectiveness, efficiency and aesthetics of the automobile but they are still pretty much the same.  The next leap forward is the introduction of the electric car and levitating train.

As you can see, the periods between innovation are getting shorter. But innovation is at all levels, in all industries and in all countries, it is the Innovators who are making the jump, building the bridges to the future, the rest follow, some with eagerness while some dragged and screaming and the rest blindly.

Me, well I can’t wait for the strap-on, Personal Anti-gravity Commuter vehicle. Now that’s a back-pac!

Success via Creativity

It is good to see companies making progress in creativity, despite the overall air of commercial trepidation still hanging around.

I would like to bring your attention to two fantastic “ideas” that are now being commercialized. The first is a new design by Tony Pike of Flat Technologies, who like the rest of us was rather annoyed at sitting in cafes with wobbly tables. He has put together a product that, once placed into position, will stay there. The really amazing part is that it is just hydraulics under the legs of a café table; there are four small interconnected cylinders with internal bladders. No seals, no locks, no electronics, no maintenance and it works. This product has a huge number of potential applications.

The second is a review of a current design then modifying this so it has nearly 30% reduction in parts costs and 50% reduction in labour costs. Sam Mikhail of IGT has used creativity and ingenuity along with the help of his team and use of DFMA software (taking the leg work out of standardising components and processes in manufacture) to re-design a gaming machine that is now versatile and customer friendly, with the “customer” in this case being everyone down-line from the engineer.

It is this type of creativity that needs to be found and encouraged in all aspects of business; real, live creativity. Improving the way things are done, how they are done and maybe even thinking about why they are done. It can be for a new or existing product, just as much, it can be for a new or existing process. As per my previous blog, use all the tools at your disposal – whether you have a huge tool box or a simple one – to help with your creativity.

Click on the links to see more about Tony and Sam.

Let’s celebrate real thought, real innovation, real action by acknowledging these people. We would love to hear of any great ideas for products or processes that you have heard of or even better come up with yourself.

Cheers
Mark