Monday, October 22, 2012

Vijay Kumar's Four Principles of Design Innovation

1.       Kumar discussed four principles of design innovation and below is a brief description of each with an example.
a.       “Build innovations around people’s experiences” Normally, innovation is due to new technology or market space that industries want to tap into however it is important to connect to what people already know and are comfortable with. For example, there are different human senses such as physical, cognitive, cultural and social that needs to be related when designing a new product/system. For physical interactions, it’s how the products connects to the users from either touch or feel of it. Cultural connections is recognizing the diverse world the product is launched into and being able to adapt to these differences. People connect with the world through social networks (either in person or virtually). When Ford was going to re-launch the Fiesta model in the US, it gave out 100 cars to different people across the nation and asked them to utilize the online social networks to discuss their experience. This was a way for the word to spread about the Fiesta in an exponential way.  (
b.      “Innovations as Systems.” Companies develop a new product and think blindly just thinking of that one product and how it’ll function in the market. Systems are usually not created where the product exists between. The system elements can include (definitely not limited to) the service, the brand, the experience, and the networking. By innovating a system, the user feels that there are no voids in the product experience. Netflix is a good example of this because it took one simple service of streaming movies/tv shows and created convenient avenues to do so. First, if you have a membership to Netflix you can stream moves from your phone, computer and most commonly your tv at home (through blueray, dvd or xbox system for example.) Second, there are Facebook and Twitter pages to like/follow in order to know the circle of Netflix users and network the product virtually. And finally, customer service is helpful by phone or on the website and this is important for any questions or concerns relating to the service. The brand is the creation of convenience by being able to watch almost anything you want instantly.
c.       “Cultivating an innovative culture within an organization.” Innovation needs to come from the top, as we’ve learned in various readings. The strategies need to accept and foster an environment of innovation and employees at all levels need to understand why or how innovation plays a part in their company. Innovation can be risky and intimidating for most and by encouraging those to step outside the box and create new ideas for systems and products, enables a company to excel with the market and be agile. Case studies reference Intel for innovation as they set time aside specifically for innovation, according to some of my previous engineering management courses. There are three basic behaviors that the senior leadership demonstrate at Intel that cultivates a culture for innovation. The first is setting challenges with goals and strategies and not tactical approaches to achieving those goals. For example, when wanting to create the faster transistor in the world, the senior leader just set the direction but didn’t say how it was going to be done. This enabled the teams to approach the solution however they wanted to get a solution. Second, is to allow the teams to create prototypes and not just develop ideas on paper. Essentially you need to build and test it and play with it to feel the product and how it’ll work. And third, is to not micro-manage and rather champion projects and serve as a resource to remove barriers/bottlenecks. (
d.      “Adapt  rigorous design processes & structured methods.” Create a structured process to innovate and force ideation (i.e. IDEO every day work.) The idea is to move away from ad-hoc processes for innovation starting from the problem and rather use techniques that standardized processes for new products/systems. Johnson & Johnson is known for their structured innovation that essentially “channel and regulate the ideation process.” The process is basically having a template for innovation based on recognizing a set of patterns to “recognize and replicate patterns” in order to build/create your product.

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