In a recent post What’s (not) an Innovation? we mentioned that an innovation consists of a new combination of
But still remains the question:
Principles (scientific discoveries) cannot be patented. The levels of inventions 2 to 4 are patentable. So, a new combination of a principle with a function and a market can patented, regardless the fact that the new combination of principle and function in another market already exists. Below you will find 4 examples of patentable solutions, based on the same principle and the same function, but with different applications. That is to say: fulfilling different needs and as such, serving different markets.
Principle: quickly increasing/decreasing pressure, the Function that is used is to remove things;
Nowadays, innovation is very in fashion. As a person, you should be innovative (creative?). A product should be innovative to tempt you to buy it (why?). Research should be dedicated to innovations (instead of discoveries?). Or even worse, boards of directors feel compelled to proclaim a “year of innovation” or ask their employees for vibrant new ideas. . . But for what?
But what is innovative, what is an innovation?
Fifteen innovation experts gave their definitions of innovation: Executing an idea which addresses a specific challenge and achieves value for both the company and customer.
In our rather humourous Thinkibility nibble “Innovations that Complicate Things”, we suggested that some innovations seems to make things more complex, inconvenient, more costly or reduce value. Since then, we have seen tonnes of examples of so called innovations that actually reduces the quality of life. (P.S. Insert the last phrase into a search engine and you will get only examples of innovations that create value for people what illustrates the unconscious assumption that innovation is always good).
The definition contains four characteristics:
What is an idea?
Apart from philosophical speculations – where ideas are usually seen as mental representational images of some object – ideas are in our opinion a result of breaking standard thinking patterns. A thinking pattern consists of a fixed entry point (definition of a situation) and a set of assumptions (things taken for granted). Ideas that really break existing thinking patterns are often called disruptive, game-changing, breakthrough, blue ocean, out-of-the-box or even a new idea. Examples of this can be found in “What Big Data, What Information Dominance?”.
It takes time and effort to transform an idea into an innovation. That is why a distinction is made between the stages of idea generation, innovation development – making the idea practical, prototyping it, calculating the business case, setting up production, pre-marketing- and implementation. Each of the stages requires different organisation, cultures, project management tools.
An idea – to be practical- must satisfy a need. That might be:
Seven triggers or sources for innovation are mentioned by Peter Drucker:
The usefulness of this overview of sources and triggers for innovation is not in the summary or description. You can actively check your product or service against a trigger: an occasion or even a necessity to innovate?
To read more about what the main triggers are that push people to innovate in the technical area, look here for an interesting article by Valeri Souchkov.
The biggest problem, however, remains the tendency to ignore challenges because it is unknowingly assumed that they are impossible. In “The Thinking Habits of Steve Jobs” we wrote: Jobs did not settle for less than more than best. He simply ignored practical objections. That drove his designers to extraordinary, hitherto considered impossible performance. Moreover, the ability to ignore generally accepted impossibilities was the main criterion to select employees.
Challenge implies that there is a call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength, or that a task or situation is waiting that tests someone’s abilities. This is rather passive, but challenges can also be created deliberately: Create Opportunities.
Value for the company and value for the customer
Some posts that explore the concept of Value are:
In general, values are not coming by itself, they should be designed.
Can you design something so that people stay politically engaged? How would you design a fabric that is made out of waste? What if it was possible to design a spot where people feel safe? Or a game that provides people suffering from Alzheimer game with a channel of communication? (To our post about New Brave Design Thinking Approach)
What is at heart of design when you design a hospital or health care systems? (To our post Empathy and Design Thinking)
In other words, we could say that an innovation consists of a new combination of
But still remains the question: “When is an innovation really breaking patterns more than other innovations?. When is an innovation incremental? When radical? When is a technical solution just more-of-the-same routine engineering? What is the difference with a scientific invention? When is it patentable?
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To promote exercise and the 2014 Olympics, Olympic Changes installed a very special ticket machine at the Moscow subway station. Instead of accepting money as payment, the high-tech ticket machine only accepts exercise. Riders could receive a free ticket by standing in front of the machine’s camera.
We think it is interesting. But why is it interesting? Why did it caught our attention?
By the way, what is the concept of interesting?
This map was made by using the Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus, an excellent tool for explore your thinking.
Suddenly we have fifteen focus area to reflect why a Physical Ticket Machine is interesting. And that could help you to bring the idea further. Could you come up with ideas to improve the concept? Other applications? Other ways to carry out the concept? Comparable concepts?
We would like to hear your suggestions but consult first with your patent office.
Recently we make concept maps about data, information, logic bubbles, concepts and idea. A concept map is a diagram showing the relationships among concepts. They are graphical tools for organising and representing knowledge.
Understanding the relations between data, information, logic bubbles, concepts and ideas is important to get essential insight into the art of creative thinking, irrespective of what creative thinking tool you are using.
This is our preliminary result or a work in progress. We will expand the maps when our understanding deepens. What is a concept? And where is it made from? What influences a logic bubble?
Photo: “Sky Stones” by Salvatore Vuono