ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for January, 2012

Want to be Disruptively Innovative? Passéjineer™

Posted by Plish on January 28, 2012

You’ve analyzed the market, researched customer needs, and you’ve come up with some great ideas for new products.  Shiny surfaces, high tech interface, and best of all, everything required to develop it is within your core competencies.

But…

Does the customer really need a $400 dollar system to do V,W,X,Y,Z in a market space where competition sells $430 dollar systems that do X,Y,Z?

“But ours is shinier, faster, cooler and does waaaay more!!!”

Maybe, but what if your product was still cool because it does X and Y unbelievably well (but it doesn’t have V, W and Z) , and oh, you can make the same, or greater, percentage margin,  and sell it for $90?

Time to Passéjineer™.

(Origins:  Passé + Engineer  = No longer fashionable or in wide use,  out-of-date, outmoded + To design, arrange, or create, by skillful or artful means)

Passéjineering is the process of understanding customer needs and then using the passé  – older technologies, expired patents, older or simpler design paradigms, simple mechanical/electrical systems – to do the jobs that the customer needs done.

The goal is to strip the product down, redesign the supertech so that it does what is essential; passéjineer it so it does the few indispensible things exquisitely well and for a fraction of the cost. In short, passéjineering is an exercise in the synthesis of new product offerings with simpler/older technology and essential customer needs.

It’s important to remember that ultimately,  it’s the customer’s needs that drive this process.

A perfect example of this is The Laundry Pod.  Someone who is single, living in an apartment and does small batches of laundry doesn’t really need a $500 washing machine.  The Laundry Pod fills a niche wonderfully, without the use of high technology and for less than a quarter of the costs.

Innovations are built on what has come before.  The tendency is usually to use the most recent rung in the ladder.  But, if you are willing to take a step back to those older rungs that haven’t been visited in quite some time, you might find yourself disrupting the market – passéjineering your way to profits.

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Posted in Customer Focus, Design, Disruptive Innovation, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Innovating For (and From) the Fringe

Posted by Plish on January 21, 2012

One of my favorite TV shows is Fringe.  It’s tale of parallel universes and the FBI’s, Fringe Division team, and their fight against inter-dimensional, and/or high technology crime.

The whole concept of the fringe, is a loaded one.  It is the place where the familiar feathers into unfamiliarity; where rules change and people must innovate and use technology creatively, simply to survive.  It’s the place of exile, the place of wonder and mystery.  Fringes are fragile – they fray.  They give the appearance of solidness but only until one touches them.  Then, they become ethereal webs that elicit unsure steps of probing instead of the surefooted steps of conviction.

The TV show depicts these fringe events as truly out of the ordinary.

The truth is, fringe events are around us everywhere.  When I buy a drink for someone at a bar and hand it off, that moment when I’m letting go and the person is receiving, is a type of fringe event.  When I click on a link and wait for the next screen to reveal itself, that is a fringe moment.  These exchanges of objects, states and information, facilitated by the interaction of two people (or at least a person and an object), are fringe moments.

Oh sure, they’re not rips in the space-time continuum, but they are moments when everything hangs in a balance of ‘what-ifs?’.

They are also moments ripe for creative innovation.  They are the moments when improv actors can create brilliance or grey.  They are the moments when health care providers can seamlessly transfer information and improve healthcare, or they can be moments of confusion – planting the seeds for future accidents.

In order to innovate in the fringe, it requires that we understand, and design for, what each person, or object is expecting to give and get.  There are two universes present on either side of the fringe event, each with its own rules. The operating laws of these universes need to be accurately ascertained in order to design appropriately and creatively.  Oh sure, we can assume what each party wants, but to really create magic, we need to know the local laws of interaction and provide an environment for synergy.

If we commit ourselves to the study of the moment – if we seek to understand the objects, interactions and suppositions that brought about that moment – we innovate from the fringe and in so doing, for the people and objects creating the fringe moment.   We become crafters of portals – doorways through which experience and objects pass.

Let’s not take this task lightly.  Whether professional or amateur:

We really do have it in our power to shape experiences in the universe. 

Posted in Conveying Information, creativity, Customer Focus, Design, Healthcare, innovation, Service Design, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Designing Positive Experiences in a Doctor’s Office – One Bagel at a Time

Posted by Plish on January 12, 2012

It was a typical physical. The basic tests, some questions, some ‘turn your head and cough’-ing, a blood draw and the removal of a dime-sized, spherical cyst from my right shoulder.

As usual, the prep for the appointment included a fast from midnight.  This isn’t usually a big deal, except that I had the latest possible appointment that morning.

Everything went well. Even the cyst removal.  It wasn’t particularly painful, but the area was effectively numbed up prior to the mini-surgery.  That was, no doubt,  a good thing, as the cyst went deeper into the skin than one would think, based upon its size.  The doctor’s skillful excision left a clean, but surprisingly large, ‘glass marble sized’ crater on my shoulder.

After I was bandaged, I turned my head and started to get up. I was instantly greeted by a flurry of starry, firefly like speckles that twinkled for a few moments then faded.

“Whoa…stars,” I said.  It had caught me by surprise.

The doctor steadied me and I stepped down off the table.  “I’ll have my nurse give you something to help that,” he said,

As I was leaving the office, she handed me my prescription.  A coupon for a free bagel  at the bakery next door.

I smiled, left, and visited the doctor’s neighbor.

“This is the coolest idea, EVER!”  I thought to myself as I munched on a toasted bagel, slathered with honey-walnut cheese.

My shoulder wound was beginning to get sore, but it didn’t matter.  The crunchy, creamy-ness filled the 12 hour fasting void in my stomach, perfectly.

In the moment, I had thought the free bagel coupon was a sacred talisman, of which I was the sole possessor. The uninitiated would never taste the nectar of honey and walnut as I was able…

Only…

I wasn’t the only one to get a coupon. In fact, all my doctor’s patients who had to fast the day before their appointments, received a ‘get a free bagel’ coupon.

This was brilliance – Pure and simple.

It also wasn’t the doctor’s brainchild.  It was the bakery owner’s! (Though the good doctor did know a good idea when he saw it, and acted upon it.)  He proposed providing coupons for the doc’s prepping, fasting patients.  In the end, he not only benefitted from letting people try his bagels, he received remuneration for the drinks that I’m sure others, like myself, purchased as a sidecar to the bagel. Yet, he wasn’t the one in the limelight as far as I was concerned.  I was indebted to the doctor who thought enough of me to feed me when I was hungry (and smarting!).

I think about this little, customer service based, sleight of hand often.  It was a brilliant tactic that paid off in spades.  I respected my doc even more after that day, and the bagel baking prowess of his neighbor as well.  There are many lessons to glean from this experience, but the one that I personally come back to is this: The positive vibes I felt from that physical didn’t come from anything the doctor did, from a medical point of view, during my visit.  It had everything to do with the simple, person-centered action that occurred  after the physical was finished.

After – not during.

It’s important to finish experiences on a high note. This one was  the coda  of the sweet, Honey Walnut Symphony…

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, Experience, Food, Healthcare, innovation, Service Design, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

You Don’t Have to be Brilliant to be Creative, Just Combinatorial

Posted by Plish on January 4, 2012

Was reading an interview with Maria Popova of Brainpickings.org and it dawned on me that I never shared her link with you, my Readers.  Her website often has posts that can be quite thought provoking.  Check it out.

I do want to share something from her webpage that is one of the best explanations of creativity/innovation that I’ve come across. It’s not complicated, it doesn’t play to turf wars in the ongoing battle between those that carve distinctions between innovation and creativity.  It’s simple and beautiful.

Read on…

…creativity, after all, is a combinatorial force. It’s our ability to tap into the mental pool of resources — ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways.  In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas — like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become.  Brain Pickings is your LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces across art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, you-name-itology. Pieces that enrich your mental pool of resources and empower you to combine them into original concepts that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful — a modest, curiosity-driven exercise in vision- and mind-expansion. Please enjoy.

Ponder Popova’s description and use it as a tool for a creative self-examination and an audit of your environment.

“…art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology…”

What are you doing to feed your creative side – what are you drawing upon of the above, to equip yourself with the building blocks of innovation?

What are you doing to build an environment that is conducive to creative growth?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, innovation, Nature of Creativity, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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