Sunday, October 20, 2019

Designing for Innovation

In section 4.1 of the Baldrige Criteria, Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management, there is a question under Performance Improvement that asks, “How do you use organizational performance review findings to develop priorities for continuous improvement and opportunities for innovation?” Well, how do you?

Designing for customer needs frequently leads to higher-quality goods and services as well as innovative outcomes because an effective design process uncovers hidden customer needs. This discovery, and the subsequent solving of the problems that kept customer needs hidden, will lead to innovation. Designing innovative and superior quality services and products requires gaining a clear understanding of the customers’ needs and translating those needs into products and services aimed at meeting them. This information can be the driver of innovation; however, most do not recognize it as such.

Innovation has everything to do with creating something new. In competitive business situations success often comes to the best innovators. Many organizations have design and development functions that create annual plans to develop new models and new services. Sometimes these functions design the good or service internally to the organization and then look for customers to sell it to, while other innovation comes from solving societal problems. Additionally, organizations may look for customer problems to solve; as a result they create something new, something innovative. It is the latter that we have found to be the most economical and therefore provides the greatest return on its investment.

To create continuous innovation, an organization must design to meet customers’ unmet (often hidden) needs. To do this one must:

  1. Capture the voice of the customers – the potential new customers or existing ones.
  2. Discover hidden customers and needs. It is hidden customers or hidden needs that must be found.
  3. Design solutions to meet those needs. This usually means solving a challenge or contradiction.
  4. Use a systematic approach to ensure innovation happens, continuously.
  5. Have tools to measure and capture data and use it to ensure that the good or service is produced efficiently.
  6. Use multifunctional staff to carry out the systematic process to ensure the good or service can be produced as planned.

One can learn about innovation, which means “making something new,” by studying innovations and innovative methods from the past.

Polaroid Camera

The conventional photographic process involves exposing light-sensitive material, which in turn must be developed, fixed, and printed. The print is developed and fixed, a procedure that can take hours (or days, if the processing facility is far from the place where the photograph was taken). In 1947, a remarkable new system of developing and taking pictures was introduced by U.S. physicist Edwin Herbert Land (1909-1991). Land left Harvard after his freshman year to conduct his own research on the polarization of light. Two years later, he invented a sheet polarization filter that could be used on camera lenses to eliminate reflection and glare. In 1937, Land founded the Polaroid Corporation to manufacture and market his filters, lamps, window shades, and sunglasses. In February 1947, he introduced Polaroid instant film for use in his own Polaroid Land Camera. The Land Camera (U.S. Patent 2,543,181) was first offered for sale on November 26, 1948.

Polaroid film processes chemicals in a flat, hermetically sealed compartment attached to the photosensitive paper. A pair of pressure rollers spreads the chemicals uniformly across the paper when exposed, and the completed print is read a minute later.  In 1963, Polaroid introduced the Polacolor, a full-color film that could be processed in less than a minute.

Source: Juran’s Quality Handbook, The Complete Guide to Performance Excellence, 6th Edition

This article is part of a continuing series on innovation.  For more articles by Joseph A. DeFeo, click below:

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Posted in: Baldrige

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