Innovative Design Concepts - The Power of 3, Part III

Takeaways from prior posts:

Part 1…  “Remember not to break any one of the links, or the other two will fall apart”

Part 2… “Remember to keep on chunking!”

From our experience, “Innovation” means different things to people. When I first meet with clients, I ask those in the meeting to offer words or phrases that capture the meaning from their perspectives. I usually receive varied responses… the word has a different meaning to people within the same organization. With the “I” word being at the forefront of every conversation, it is important that we have a common definition before starting a program with our clients.

Innovation = something new to the market that creates economic and customer value through research, creativity and invention.

Every word in this definition is necessary. Take any one of them away, and you don’t have innovation by our definition.

  • New to market - must be commercialized. Ideas in and of themselves are important in education, intellectual development, technology development, but they don’t define innovation.
  • Economic Value - what’s important to the entity commissioning the project? Market share? Margin? Infrastructure? Jobs?
  • Customer Value - what’s important to an end user, service technician, machine operator, dealer, or buyer?
  • Research, Creativity, and Invention are at the core of product Design Thinking. This is what Brooks Stevens does, and it is what we contribute to innovative product design and development. 

Venn diagrams are a great way to show logical relationships between elements (or links). In the product Design Thinking framework, there are three fundamental elements that contribute to innovative product design and flawless execution every time… Desirability, Viability, Feasibility. The unions between the elements describe mutual satisfaction of requirements.

Emotional Innovation

  • Brand Identity – connection to design language through visual and auditory queues
  • Recognition – becomes more familiar with increased use or interaction to point of becoming the only thing you’ll use

Functional Innovation

  • Human Ergonomics – a hand control that fits 15th – 95th percentile operators in multiple end-product uses. 20% decrease in fatigue.
  • Product Integrity – precision in use of hand control increased 20%.
  • User Interface – touch screen interface is intuitive, deep and fast. No need for instructions anymore! Defined by union of advancement in technology to make applications feasible (OLED, gorilla glass, nanotech) and human factors and ergonomics

Process Innovation

  • Quality – changing from a weldment to a casting to decrease variability and warranty costs
  • Efficiency – improved production line process, lean manufacturing techniques
  • Productivity – automation of low-skill tasks

Innovative Product Design is the Sweet Spot

Innovative product design is at the union of feasible technology, viable economic requirements and human values. It’s about balancing the latent desires of end users, business goals, and available technology to advance your product development strategy. This may mean re-focusing on other market segments, breaking away from your own existing core technology competency, or finding other users. It inevitably leads to a change in human behavior.

If you are a participant in a new product initiative, you must keep this concept at the forefront of your mind whether you’re an engineer, a financial controller, or an industrial designer:

All three elements in this diagram are important, and each of the elements has many requirements. My job is to keep all of them organized in my mind, identify the connections per my perspective, and work with my fellow participants to collectively put them in their proper place. If I choose to represent only my interests and ignore one or two of the other elements, there is no Innovation per my definition… the links fall apart.