26 Oct

Innovation and collaborative spaces

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:


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


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:


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.


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.


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.

04 Sep

Innovation Glimpse on Smart Phones

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.


  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.


29 Ago

Innovation by helping others to innovate

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.



  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.
23 Ago

Close the loop

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.


  1. Marin, Mario “Cierra el Circulo” https://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” https://innovando.net/wp-admin/post.php?post=266&action=edit#wpseo_linkdex February 2010 USA. Recovered August 2012.
21 Ago

Innovation, is part of a Schedule?

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!



  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.
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