Oct 262012
 

Innovation and collaborative spaces

Innovation requires the interaction between individual or between groups, the better these individuals or groups interact the best result on innovative or creative ideas. The spaces where individuals or teams interact makes the difference, such spaces can be either personal space or team space for interaction, Winneman & Serrato (1999) resume as best practices for team collaboration the following:

Comfort

  Work station or group stations should provide a level of comfort to allow employees maximum performance on their task.

Proximity

Team works requires certain level of proximity to allow collaboration and support intergroup communication.

Sharing work place

Common space such a work table to share equipment promotes communication as collaboration.

Meeting places

It is important groups have access to group meeting where important work is complete.

Displays areas

Displays areas are important to show prototypes or work in process products helps other understand task team is involved.

Informal gathering places

The way employees flow on their facilities should promote informal communication on informal places, such as rest areas or restroom areas.

Somebody may believe that the best practices listed above are too much and nobody cares about them, actually there may be companies do it backwards, and try to provide just a place to team members no matter is adequate or not for the sake of “savings” and avoid employees interaction for the sake of “productivity” and may believe employee interaction is “relaxation” on their behavior toward important goals, however this is not the case and there is several examples of companies and teams really cares about this best practice, let me elaborate on the following examples:

Apple

Steve Jobs created a full equipped lab to Jonathan Ives’s creations, the “Ive’s Studio” described by Issacson (2010) on Steve Jobs Biography  was a very reserved place, where few had access, describe work stations for designers and steel tables as display areas for work in progress designs. Jobs took very seriously team spaces and layout to promote innovation.

Pixar

Steve Jobs influenced Pixar studio in order to promote collaboration, convinced on Ive’s Studio success provide open spaces around the work stations so that collaboration occurred even on the way to restrooms, again Issacson (2010) describes Pixar new studio on detail on Jobs Biography.

Building 20

Initially Building 20 hosted MIT Radiation Laboratory, following by   Research Laboratory of Electronics and finally Laboratory for Nuclear Science, This place was claim as the most important research center that nurtured creativity and innovation “Magical Incubator” because its unique informal design allowed informal (random and unplanned) collaboration with a wide range of different groups doing totally different stuff.

As conclusion good ideas can be goldsmith by informal collaboration, when spaces host those scientists and engineers provide work stations that provides comfort, tools and environment for collaboration good thing may occur most of the time unpredictable.

Do you feel your work environment foster creativity and innovation? Do you feel comfortable at your work station? Let us know your experiences they are important for us.

References:

4)      Wineman Jean, Serrato Margaret “Facility Design for High Performance Teams” Jossey-Bass 1999 USA.

5)      Issacson, Walter “Steve Jobs” Simon & Schunters USA 2010.

6)      Lehrer, Johan “Group Think” http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/01/30/120130fa_fact_lehrer?currentPage=1 The New Yorker 2012. Recovered October 2012.

Sep 042012
 

Innovation Glimpse on Smart Phones

What is coming on phones innovation? How phones will look like on one hundred years? It is difficult to know but this is part of the gradual development of ideas that shapes products either by incremental innovation or disruptive innovation ways.

Genrich Altshuller has two concepts that help on the innovation of products:

1)      Increasing the degree of Ideality and

2)      The law of technical evolution

Increasing the degree of ideality concept, phone design speaking started with the complexity of connecting others, the phones turned from old manual switch boards to modern connection servers that interconnect others flawless no matter where you are, must of the time. Other degree of ideality may be the dialing, it passed from the endless time to dial a number to the actual digital dials or voice recognition, and finally but not last the most dramatic change on phones was mobility turning the phones from fixed home phones to mobile phones, well known as cell phones, this is the flavor of how degree of ideality works.

The other concept of law of technical evolution comes on other different innovative strategies, such as:

1)      Life cycle of technical system

2)      Dynamization

3)      Transition to bi to poly system

4)      Uneven development of system

5)      Synchronization

6)      Scaling up or down

7)      Transition from macro to micro level

8)      Replacement of humans

Phones design is still shaped by Altshuller low of technical evolution, the sin qua none of phone design is the life of technical system, where endless design cycles are defined by introduction of features that cycles the design until a new one comes up, and actual example is the rapid market penetration of smart phone on the market once that Blackberry step into with this innovation, and recently Apple and Samsung dispute the supremacy.

Where the phone design ends up? Short term there is an ambitious concept called Google Glass that trays to pack the entire smart phone capabilities into glasses either for sun protection or prescription, it may take few years to figure out if technology is ready for this kind of miniaturization. Finally but not last new Total Recall movie gives us a glimpse of future phone designs, where Collin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale unveils phones under our hand skin, when we would have such phones? We should ask Ray Kurzweil, but the movie gives an idea, where we see no Lincoln, Washington or Franklin on the future currency but Obama, meaning potentially 200 years from now where the movie takes place on the future.

Are you aware of another glimpse of future innovation on phone designs?  Where you aware of increasing ideality and law of technical evolution concepts? Let us know, your opinion is always welcome.

References:

  1. Panetta, Kasey “Is Google Glass too ambitious?” http://www.ecnmag.com/articles/2012/05/google-glass-too-ambitious?et_cid=2677765&et_rid=45566053&linkid=http%3a%2f%2fwww.ecnmag.com%2farticles%2f2012%2f05%2fgoogle-glass-too-ambitious USA May 2012. Recuperado June 2012.
  2. ECN, “Smartphones see accelerated rise to dominance” http://www.ecnmag.com/news/2012/08/smartphones-see-accelerated-rise-dominance?et_cid=2825296&et_rid=45566053&linkid=http%3a%2f%2fwww.ecnmag.com%2fnews%2f2012%2f08%2fsmartphones-see-accelerated-rise-dominance USA August 30th 2012. Recovered September 3rd.
  3. Altshuller Genrich, The Innovation Algorithm. TRIZ systemic innovation and technical creativity. Technical Innovation Center, Inc USA 2005.

 

Ago 292012
 

Innovation by helping others to innovate

Nobody can argue that an innovative idea can be successful if this idea is used by others, this is the customer traction called by Bill Buxton on his “Long Nose of Innovation”.  Recently it got my attention a tweet  from Amy Wilkinson, Harvard Senior Fellow and author on entrepreneurial leadership, that quoted Brian Tracy “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others” Well this quote fits the innovator dilemma on being successful, holding this idea on mind let me elaborate:

When an idea comes and becomes a tangible object, technology or service it has to be useful to somebody else to complete the cycle of an innovative idea, innovation stands for something new that has a value to others, well we need to help others to use our ideas then the Long Nose of Innovation (Bill Buxton) is completed and then is when an idea becomes an innovation.

In the automotive electronics industry we need to look for assembly solutions for our microelectronics products, we start with assembly concepts that become assembly stations, those concepts becomes an build of process for our specific application, then we try to make sure our build of process becomes an standard across our product lines, this concept make us competitive, because we are disseminating concepts full fill our five start challenge:

1)      Stable. Application is a proved solution and is a repeatable process.

2)      Flexible. Application can be easily modified to embrace similar products.

3)      Error Proof. Station ensure the process is completed before leaves the station using simple error proof strategies.

4)      Cycle time effective. Application has short cycle time, or its low cost allows meet cycle time with multiple cells. 

5)      Low cost. Application is a low cost if comperes with full automatic applications.

 At the end the innovator has to look for ways to advertise his idea and make sure is adopted as a stable and flexible solution at a very competitive cost, so that we innovate helping others to innovate then our ideas become a commercial or business success.

Do you have an experience like this? Please let us know your success histories, they are always welcome.

 

References

  1. Buxton, Bill. “The Long Nose of Innovation”  http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2008-01-02/the-long-nose-of-innovationbusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice  January 2008 USA, recovered August 2012.
  2. Marin, Mario. “Five Star Challenge” November 2008. Delphi Automotive Systems. USA.
Ago 232012
 

Close the loop

At some point of time we are asked to complete a task, either home (Honey’s do list) or at our job. In our job we are asked to complete something related to our areas of competency, they can be problems to solve related quality, equipment performance, equipment malfunctions, cost reduction, cycle time reductions, safety or elimination of waste. These areas of opportunity are generally pinpointed by someone and delegated to somebody, and they are expected to be completed or followed up, worse case delegated to somebody else, whatever is the case they must be completed, not forgot neither ignored. This process by control systems analogy is called “Close the Loop”

Our ability to close the loop can make a difference between a trusted employee and employee who is not trusted, because sometime those tasks can be critical for those who identify them, due to normally those who work every day in the same area can develop “workplace blindness” and only be perceived by out siders, being safety issues the most critical.

Employees that are good at close the loop have the following characteristics:

  1. They are highly accountable; nobody doubts they will full fit their commitments.
  2. They are selected to complete critical task; nobody doubts they will be successful on complete them.
  3. They are very often recognized by their achievements.
  4. They always close their circles effectively, meaning they are not open again by asking feedback on their actions to close them.

Employees who are not good at closing the circle have the following characteristics:

  1. They are not accountable, meaning that we doubt on select them to complete a task, because we are afraid task won’t be completed.
  2. They are not trusted.
  3. Generally they are not object of recognition.
  4. They never make sure their actions were effective, normally they never come back because they are afraid become accountable by their actions.

The bottom line here is that we need to ensure we full fit our commitments, close the loop, because failing on doing so can drive on consequences on the perception of others to our performance. Failing on close the loop at home by no paying services, credits or taxes on time can drive on penalties losing money and trust. Failing on close the loop on our jobs may drive us to head the employee black list or those who are on development programs, ending on being let go to persuit other oportunities some place else.

How good are you to close the loop? Do you identify at your job people is good at close the loop and those who don’t? Let us know your opinion, it is important to us.

References:

  1. Marin, Mario “Cierra el Circulo” http://innovando.net/cierra-el-circulo/?preview=true&preview_id=266&preview_nonce=1588707199 February 2012 Mexico. Recovered August 2012.
  2. Bolander, Jarie “6 Steps to Closing The Loop” http://innovando.net/wp-admin/post.php?post=266&action=edit#wpseo_linkdex February 2010 USA. Recovered August 2012.
Ago 212012
 

Innovation, is part of a Schedule?

There is a bunch of information about how keep innovation effort alive on the organizations, recent article from Robert Brands “Can Innovation Be a Structured Repeatable Process?” calls for a “Ideation” that urges enterprise or business leaders to schedule ideas generation sessions year after years so that it become a recurrent ideas generations.

This sounds a good idea but why to wait to create ideas? We normally look for creative and innovative ideas when we face problems in our jobs or business, and most of the time problems cannot wait for the “Ideation”

When we face problems in Automotive sector the customer demands immediate actions, it used to be within 24 Hrs. range, however after Toyota’s events with brakes that turned on customers deaths, problems with imminent impact to the customer demands immediate response, within same shift problems is acknowledge, and if you wondered, yes normally this happens Friday 4:00 PM, the engineer’s curse.

The solution of the problems for sure follows a structured process, specific issues on the industry that involves variables can be solved by six sigma methodologies that are applied by green belts or black belts, sometimes problems are so complex that requires solutions based on design of Experiments (DOE), they may be another technologies such Shainin that are more related with parts and the characterization of bad vs. good parts with the idea to identify differences may drive to the problems.

As conclusion there is nothing wrong with a scheduled “Ideation” in order to keep the flame of inspiration within the enterprise, however the need to create ideas and innovative solutions to daily problems has no schedules and engineers had better have an inspiration back up can be used Friday’s afternoon if engineer is willing to go home early for supper.

Have you experienced the engineer’s curse? Let us know your histories they are always welcome!

 

References

  1. Brands, Robert “Can Innovation Be a Structured Repeatable Process?” http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2012/08/15/can-innovation-be-a-structured-repeatable-process/  August, 2012 USA. Recovered August 2012.
Ago 142012
 

Innovators, personalities and electrocuted elephants

Recently was issued an article about the personalities that innovators must goldsmith to create ideas, create value out of them, execute a plan to make those ideas tangible and commercialize them successfully.  Dr. Shankar Venugopal is the author of the article called “Four Faces of an Innovator” and ensures that the creation of valuable innovation requires individuals to hone the following personalities:

 

1)      Innovators must focus on knowledge to create valuable ideas.

2)      Innovators must be strategic thinkers to take the idea to customers.

3)      Innovators must focus on execution to make the idea to happen.

4)      Innovators must be money makers to successfully achieve on the market.

 

Well the idea is interesting but I doubt that an innovator can manage such amount of personalities in his own persona even if he tries one at the time. The last time that I read about an idea of adopt different types of thinking was the six hats of Edward de Bono where he suggests that a problem must be solved thinking in:

 

1)      White Hat, focus on facts and figures

2)      Red Hat, focus on emotions and feelings

3)      Black Hat, cautions and careful

4)      Yellow Hat, speculative-positive

5)      Green Hat, creativity thinking

6)      Blue Hat, control of thinking.

 Taking advantage of the DeBono’s six hats, and wearing the red hat, what troubles me about the idea to embrace different personalities is that there is too much to swallow by a single person, even if we ignore that normally we hold a single personality, unless you are bi polar, if we take the example of Steve Jobs work, we can agreed that the ideas and the strategic thinking came from Jobs, however execution of ideas came from others, like Jonathan Ive, and the money maker at the end perhaps materialized on Tim Cook.

 

My personal feeling is that an innovator undeniable role of create ideas and strategically wait for the correct moment to put them on the table is his predominant role, however the goldsmith of the ideas and the tracking of the market of such ideas not necessarily is 100% role of the innovator, however the enterprise most embrace all of them with no doubt.

 

Finally Dr Shankar makes a remark: “Tesla’s great idea of connecting the world (wireless) got killed because his financier could not figure out how to make money out of it”  what I believe really killed Nikola Tesla innovations was his spooky technology and the fact that Edison, his most gentleness opponent, used to electrocute elephants on public with Tesla’s AC power technology, that menaced DC’s Edison power, even nowadays Testla’s ideas to wireless energy still on development, Jim Schauesler, senior technical marketing manager for portable products from Palm incorporated presented on CES 2007 a prototype to wireless power by magnetic coupling to charge cell phones, and quoted “But we see this as a long adoption cycle, on the order of 5 to 10 years” Was Tesla’s issue an financer flaw or just Tesla’s ideas were ahead of time?

 

My conclusion, innovators cannot swallow all! Barely can chew our own thoughts and put them together to change the world!

 

References

 

1)      Venugopal  Shankar “Four Faces of an Innovator”  http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2012/08/05/four-faces-of-an-innovator/  USA August 2012. Recovered August 2012.

2)      Issacson, Walter “Steve Jobs” Simon & Schunters USA 2010.

3)      Merritt, Rick “Cellphones warm up to magnetic coupling” http://www.eetimes.com/design/analog-design/4006352/Cellphones-warm-up-to-magnetic-coupling June 2009, recovered August 2012.

Ago 022012
 

Innovators Manifest       

Our minds are destiny to novelty otherwise is conformism, there is nothing wrong with it, but we can push ourselves to achieve greater tasks that demand compromise with a cause of our own. Those who embrace the challenge become creative minds, innovative subjects, innovators, willing to excel on their task with the reward of a problem solved.

Innovators never give up and bravely accept the challenge, knowing that will succeed on their enterprise or at least show the way for others to succeed. Problems are an endless front, that is why we must be prepared at any time to embrace the challenge.

Innovators and creative minds are elected for the most important task, where conformist are set aside to let the other build the way.

Conformist has the choice to awake and understand they can also be part of the challenge; there is not small or bigger challenge, as a child all of us started crawling and end up running at some point of our lives, so there is not a rush.

Creativity and Innovation is a novel task that results on a better live for all of us, because we are destine to change, because nothing last forever and we must be ready to find other ways to prevail.

Everything has a time to pass including or home planet which sooner or later it will fade away by the flames of our dying start but before that happens we must find the way to a new home, for now we have other mundane task to achieve to make our home a better place for our childs.

I encourage you to unveil your eyes and find out a challenge or your own, reward may come or not, but the fact is that every step forward is better that step backward to find your place on your job, enterprise or home, do not be afraid of failure because such failure does not exist, there is just better ways to achieve.

Once you find out that there is nothing can stop you then you are welcome to the team of creative and innovator folks, usually called trouble makers, who we want to change the world by solving one problem at time, welcome to the team.

 Dedicated to Garret John Loporto

 http://www.wayseermanifesto.com/

 

Feb 212012
 

Think Out of The Box

Think Out of the Box

Think Out of the Box as strategy to overcome paradigms

We need to think out of the box! use to say my best mentor ever, when we were facing complex problems on the manufacturing of automotive micro electronics and we needed non-Orthodox solutions, but what exactly means Think out of the Box? Few years ago I found my answer on an unexpected item, in a drawing my daughter draw in her painting classes when she was a child.  On her crayon drawing she drew a fish tank or a fishbowl, but what about that? What is so special about it and what it has to do with thinking out of the box? If we take a closer look we will see that this fish tank has two storeys and she provided to the fishes a door between storeys! I never considered a fish tank with storeys neither fishes may need doors to cross between them, so she thought totally out of the box!

It is evident that a child has very few paradigms, to become aware that fishes do not need doors and that there are not storeys on the ocean, rivers or lagoons, but she did not care and she let her creativity loose while painting this interesting fish tank, that by the way is one of my treasures that I keep from my daughter childhood and I have the proud to share it to you on this blog entry.

Think out of the box is left behind our paradigms, Edward DeBono (1970) propose provocations to put aside our paradigms, associating or connecting random words with ideas may help us to find creative solutions to problems we are facing, and these ideas may lead to unexpected results. These provocations are very well described on DeBono’s Lateral Thinking Book, he indicates that people use to think vertical, meaning building up ideas within their paradigms, then provocations lead us to think lateral, thinking lateral allow us to have fish tanks with storeys and doors to help fishes to transit between them just like my daughter did. 

DeBono said that thinking out of the box lead us to generate unusual ideas that changes concepts, perceptions and rules resulting in fresh creativity. At the end the concept of thinking out of box must be part of or language on the creative and innovation enterprise path in order to take apart our paradigms in the generation of new ideas that could lead to creative and innovative solutions to our problems, so then I invite you to Think out of the Box!  

Have you thought out of the box recently? Do you feel free to think out of the box at work? Please share your experiences, your feedback in important.

References:

  1. De Bono Edward “Lateral Thinking” Harper Perenial First Edition, 1970 USA
  2. De Bono Edward “On Creativity Thinking” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjSjZOjNIJg December 2006.
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