Systematic Structured Innovation - Self Paced Learning Modules
Nature has been solving problems on Earth for at least 3.8 billion years and some amazing species have evolved that map form to function in very efficient and effective ways. Biomimicry is a concept generation technique that seeks inspiration from nature to solve technical problems. Humans have looked to nature to help solve their problems throughout history, but recent advances in access to information now enable designers to quickly identify potentially relevant natural inspirations, study them, and apply them to deliver innovative solutions to current technical problems. This module will introduce you to systematic methods for taking design inspiration from nature.
The concept fan is essentially a mind map of the design organized along different conceptual approaches to solving the problem at hand. A concept fan can serve as an idea generator, a breadth expander, and an idea organizer. The technique is particularly good at helping teams consider a wide range of conceptual approaches to solving the problem at hand while simultaneously ensuring each conceptual approach has been appropriately explored. The concept fan can help teams avoid spending an excessive amount of time in one conceptual arena, while neglecting other potentially promising conceptual approaches. This module describes what a concept fan is and explains the two fundamental ways one can be developed.
At a most basic level, design can be thought of as mapping function to form. Hence, the first step in developing great design is to establish an excellent, solution neutral functional understanding of what a solution must deliver. Many engineering teams struggle to identify to the fundamental functional essence of the problems they are trying to solve. Lacking this basic foundational understanding, it is easy to misrepresent the problem, or miss the mark with the solution. This module presents a structured methodology for documenting.
During concept generation, it is recommended that a team generate 100+ ideas. That results in the need to down-select to the most promising (or a few most promising) concepts for further consideration, a process we call screening. Multiple screening techniques are covered in this module that allow a team to systematically identify the “best” ideas.
Most engineers think innovation must involve delivering more. Sometimes there’s an easier way to innovate. As the name implies, the trimming technique involves systematically consider how a concept maps form to function and consider eliminating or combining some of those forms or functions. The technique involves considering prescriptive trimming rules that will help the innovation team refine ideas in the quest for efficient solutions. This module overviews the trimming technique.
Painstorming is an opportunity recognition technique, and recognizing an opportunity is the first step in the innovation process (at least for a market-pull situation). The title of this technique is a combination of two words: 1) Pain and 2) Storming. The word “pain” helps us remember to look for issues that our potential customers would consider nuisances, annoyances, or inconveniences referred to as “pains.” The word “storming” reminds us of the familiar ideation technique known as brainstorming, although brainstorming is typically utilized when generating solution concepts, not during opportunity recognition. Painstorming focuses customer’s perspective and empathy for the customer is paramount to ensure the team is working on a significant unmet customer need. This module provides a structured process to identify new opportunities through painstorming.
The “real problem” may seem odd, but very often innovation teams get off track, and begin to drift away from the pursuit of the customer’s issues, in favor of their own misconception of the problem, or their personal perspectives. This module provides a systemic method to deep-dive problem statements to find and clarify the real problem and any associated constraints.
The six thinking rooms is perhaps the most generally useful tool in the systematic innovator’s toolbox. The technique, based around the concept of parallel thinking, promotes teamwork efficiency around a structured thinking process that devotes dedicated time for thinking along each six different thinking styles. This module overviews the six thinking styles (thinking rooms) and a process to apply it.