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How to Make Sure Prototypes are Useful, Even When They Fail

Posted by Plish on November 28, 2016

It worked flawlessly for 4 minutes and 25 seconds…

And then it didn’t.  The VP smiled and said, “I get the idea.”  After getting through the embarrassment of the failure, the team learned what went wrong, and got to work testing variations of the failed component.  The new versions didn’t fail, and the product went on to eventually make millions…

 

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” – Warren Buffet

Risk and fear walk hand in hand with lack of knowledge.  The best way then to minimize fear and minimize risk is to understand,  to know what’s happening.  Prototypes are part of that knowledge building process.

The knowledge base that takes shape through prototyping is equally, if not more, valuable than the actual mock-up itself.

The challenge in most organizations is to make the shift from being object/success based, to process/knowledge based.  Then, even if a product never gets commercialized, the knowledge that gets created can be used for other products, other projects, and make those into money-makers.  Knowledge creates a bolder approach to the future!

What do we do to make sure we’re after knowledge, not just results?

Whether you are creating products, services, or even a new business model, don’t think of prototyping as a ‘testing an idea’ event, but instead as a learning process.   The best way to change into a process based mentality is to ask questions, and then create prototypes that will get you that knowledge.   Three basic questions guide how you get that knowledge as efficiently as possible.   Notice that nowhere are we asking,”Will this work?”  Instead, ask yourself these questions and then start prototyping!

  1. Which answers can I get to easily?  Easy translates into fast answers.  It doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, it just means  that there are few moving parts, so to speak.  The relationships are clear cut – there are anticipated outputs for each input.  Subtract a dimension from your  concept and test that.  For example, if a knob has three dimensions but you want to see how easy it is to grab,  cut it out of cardboard and build a two-dimensional model. Sketch when you can.  Is there infrastructure in place, such as test equipment, that makes it easy to test something?  Quick answers, that’s what you’re after.  You might not be able to go to the moon with your prototype, but you might be able to get more confidence that it’s possible.
  2. Which answers can I get cheaply?  Low cost doesn’t mean quick or easy, though often it does. These prototypes also often aren’t highly accurate. But that shouldn’t matter.  Can you build something out of polymer clay instead of 3D printing it, or molding it?   Find ways to duplicate function using cheap materials or techniques.
  3. Which answers  will give the greatest bang-for-the-buck?  Getting these may be neither cheap to test, nor fast to create, but, at the end of the day, they yield potential answers that could unlock future decisions.  To find these, ask what part, system or sub-system, if you eliminated it from the design, would cripple it hopelessly?  What is key?  The movie “Victor Frankenstein” is playing in the background as I type this.  The electrical charging system is key to energizing Frankenstein’s creations as none of his creations are possible without electricity. Those electrical systems are his bang-for-the-buck systems.  Those are the types of things you want to prototype!

With each of these three types of prototypes, make sure that you have back-up plans.  Make extra parts.  Make variations. Confirm that you understand why things are happening the way they are.

When do I prototype the final product?

Even though it’s often tied to ‘go/no-go’ decisions about a product, prototyping the final version is part of the prototyping process spectrum.   It’s still about knowledge creation, so if you’ve learned what you can about the systems in simple, cost effective methods, and you’ve learned about the ‘bang-for-the-buck’ systems, there shouldn’t  be many surprises.  Still, expect the best, and prepare for the worst.  Have plans in place to deal with those surprises.

Remember, prototyping is about knowledge creation!  That’s why failure is okay. (In fact,  believe it or not, you want some level of failure!)

Let’s summarize what it takes to make sure prototypes are useful.

Make various types of prototypes to answer questions:

Make easy prototypes.  Learn.

Make cheap prototypes.  Learn.

Make prototypes of your key components and sub-systems.  Learn.

Document your learnings.  Build upon what you know.  Experiment to find out what you don’t know, and document it so it can be shared.

Follow this process and your prototypes won’t just be an artifact tested in a one-time event.  They will be doorways to knowledge, and knowledge eliminates fear, allows you to deal with risk, and ultimately, leads to success.

 

Posted in 3D Printing, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are you Using This Simple 3 Step Process to Create Products that Leverage Existing Trends?

Posted by Plish on August 9, 2016

There’s no question that we are living in exciting times.  There are multiple trends, technological and otherwise, that are blossoming and can be leveraged if you take the time to put in some work.  Follow this simple three step process and you’ll be much better equipped for leveraging the power of trends in your business.

Step One:

Research and understand trends that are shaping the landscape.

As a primer, here’s a quick list of some trends that are shaping the world right now.

 

Via MarketWatch

  • Virtual and Augmented Reality
  • Wearables
  • Smart Cars
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Drones
  • Phone (and batteries) That Charge at a Distance

Some other Consumer Retail Trends:

  • Leveraging the Crowd
  • Subscription Services (Dollar Shave Club)
  • 3-D Printing
  • Maker Movement
  • Product Personalization
  • Sharing Economy
  • Uberization (I agree with Fast Company. Uber isn’t Sharing Economy but it is a new model)
  • Multiple Platform Sales
  • Social Media and Online Communities
  • Preference for Ethically Responsible Brands
  • Eco-Awareness
  • Product Co-Creation
  • Increased Biometric Use

Also check out Trendhunter (where I contribute from time to time 😉 ) Trendwatching, and Cassandra with their Cassandra Daily Newsletter.  The trends on these sites can be quite provocative and are great for jump-starting creative thoughts.

Steps 2 and 3!

2.  List the main positive and negative attributes of your product.

3.  Look for intersections between your product attributes and the trends and create products that enhance the positives or negate the negatives

For example.  Let’s say that your company makes paper-based notebooks.

Positive Attributes: Convenient; Creates hard copy; Can be used with various media (pen, pencil, paint, crayon, etc.);  Highly secure; Can be digitally copied (copy machine, phone picture, etc.); Difficult to forge; Low-cost; Recyclable; Personal

Negative Attributes: Needs to be on hand to use; Must do additional work to digitally archive; Uses/wastes paper; If recycled then must be copied; Have to purchase at stores either in bulk or as needed but then have to run to the store; ???

 

Ideas:

  • Have a QR code 10 pages from the end of the notebook that automatically orders (when scanned) more notebooks before running out (Better than a subscription service because it’s on-demand) This data can be used to then understand ordering patterns.
  • Enable customization of notebooks (paper designs -lined/graph/etc, covers, etc.) via online portal or app
  • Have a sensor embedded 10-20 pages from the end that when written on automatically purchases another notebook and mails it
  • Use non-wood pulp papers
  • Create an online community where people can design notebook covers for each other
  • Deliver notebooks by drone
  • Create notebooks from text messages
  • Create an augmented reality app that enables someone to ‘write’ on various products/locations/etc. to capture ideas virtually
  • Create a wearable that can tell what you’re writing and store it digitally, automatically
  • Provide notebooks that are customized for online courses and heighten student interactivity
  • Notebook covers contain solar panels and/or batteries for recharging digital devices.  These can also be charged via movement/carrying.
  • Use biometrics to lock/unlock paper notebooks
  • Create luxury notebooks
  • Personalize notebooks with a chamber that contains a friend/family member’s DNA from a kiss (think lipstick on an envelope…remember snail mail? 😉 )
  • Create Notebooks from pulp made from trees or branches that grew on property that held emotional import
  • Grow bamboo (at home?) or more likely,   you pay an amount to lease a portion of a bamboo field from which pulp is harvested to create your own notebooks. It’s a notebook/paper co-op (I LOVE this idea.  Anyone that wants to do it, please contact me 🙂 )

As you can see, just by bouncing notebook attributes against the various trends, I came up with 16 ideas for new products.  (Not only does this process supplement existing product lines, but you can use it to create brand new markets.  Just start with some existing product line attributes, bounce it against trends and create new products irrespective of what your industry is!)

There’s no excuse for being left in the dust of technology and an evolving world.  Follow this simple 3 step process, and you’ll find yourself successfully creating products as the world changes. 🙂

***

 

Here are some other tech trends for your reading enjoyment 🙂

Inc.com

  • 3d Printing
  • Active Participation in Advertising
  • Changes in Healthcare Funding
  • Reshaping Education via Online Training
  • Online Portals Reshaping Retail

Forbes

  • The Device Mesh (Connected products of all kinds)
  • Ambient User Experience (Seamless experiences spanning devices)
  • 3d Printing Materials
  • Obtaining Information from Everything
  • Advanced Machine Learning
  • Autonomous Agents and Things (Next gen Siri, Cortana, etc.)
  • Adaptive Security Architecture
  • Advanced System Architecture (Computers that function more like brains)
  • Mesh App and Service Architecture
  • Internet of Things Architecture and Platforms

A pdf Report from Deloitte touches on much of the Forbes stuff and more

 

 

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing, brainstorming, Co-Creation, Creative Thinking Techniques, culture of innovation, Disruptive Innovation, innovation, Innovation Tools, Maker Movement, problem solving, Social Responsibility, Sustainability, The Future, Trends, Uncategorized, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do You Want to Be More Creative? Please Help Me Help You With Your Creative Problem Solving and Creative Thinking

Posted by Plish on April 25, 2015

Hi, it’s me!

I’ve always been fascinated with how things work: machines, products, nature, the universe, and yes, even people. (It’s the scientist in me).

At the same time, I’ve always enjoyed making things: products, games, art, music, food and more! (I’m inspired by the muses 🙂 )

Most of my professional career I’ve been designing medical products for everything from family owned companies, to Fortune 500 companies, and I’ve done it well. These products are helping countless people live better lives, and their healthcare providers do their jobs more effectively.

I’m party to over 20 patents in the US and Internationally, and have been awarded multiple corporate awards for products that have made these companies millions in profits.  And, all the while, I was devising and refining my own methods of idea generation and product creation.

Working in the Corporate world was a great experience, but I wanted to grow and share my journey in creativity. So, in 2008 I ventured out on my own and formed ZenStorming™ LLC.

It’s science meeting muse.

I help companies come up with ideas for new products as well as share my methods for creative thinking and problem solving. I have an extensive network of talented designers, engineers and manufacturers that help me bring ideas from conception to reality. And I’m loving every minute of this creative ride!

I also develop tools (and often share those right here) to help people in their creative endeavors. I’m also developing some premium tools.  But, rather than assume I know what you need, I want to hear it from you.

I want to know what it is that you struggle with.

I want to know what could help you be more creative and grow as creative person.

Please take this uber-quick survey.  Your email address isn’t needed, but if you share it (It’s safe and secure and will be kept in confidence – I promise!) I may very well contact you to chat some more, and you’ll definitely be the first to know when these premium tools roll out, so you’ll get special deals!

Thank you so much for your time!!

Wishing you fruitful growth in your creative endeavors~

Plish a.k.a. Mike, Michael, Mickey, Plishka, Dude, Mickeyplish, Mikey, Misha, Myxash,

Posted in 3D Printing, Brain Stimulation Tools, brainstorming, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Printing with Paper – the 21st Century Way

Posted by Plish on March 4, 2015

People are finding new uses for 3d printing daily. One of the downsides with 3d printing is that materials and methods are often expensive, and/or not eco-friendly. Another downside is that printing in true color is difficult.

Mcor Technologies is changing all that.

They’ve developed a way to true color print 3d objects using eco-friendly inks and adhesives at a fraction of the cost of other 3d printing technologies.  Disposal is also friendly as the product can be thrown into the recycling bin when the print is no longer needed.

How does it work?

Simply put, a sheet of paper is printed (in color) and the shape of the printed part is cut out of the paper.  Next, adhesive is placed on the paper and another sheet is placed on top. Print color, cut and repeat until the entire piece is printed.  For a better explanation of the process, check out this pdf from Mcor.

The biggest limitation that I can see with this is the build volume. At 9.39 x 6.89 x 5.9in, it’s not a bad build volume but it’s not huge. It’s limited by the thickness of a ream of paper.  On the upside, the parts can be designed to be separated into multiple pieces and then glued together.

Some great examples of how the technology is being used and its capability can be seen in this pdf.  There’s also a really impressive medical case study from University of Louvain in Belgium.

Here are some more examples of what can be printed.  What do you think?

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Posted in 3D Printing, innovation, Innovation Tools | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dear RadioShack, It didn’t have to end this way…

Posted by Plish on February 5, 2015

It’s official.

RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy.

Call me naïve, but I really don’t think this had to happen.  I realize I’m ‘Monday Morning quarterbacking’ (Why DID Seattle throw that pass on the one yard line?!?!  I digress….) but RadioShack had made some bad choices.

RadioShack’s bankruptcy, which has been expected for months, follows 11 consecutive unprofitable quarters as the company has failed to transform itself into a destination for mobile phone buyers. Its sale agreement with Standard General could spare it the fate most retailers suffer in Chapter 11 – liquidation.

A destination for mobile phone buyers.  Seriously?  You can get a cell phone at WalMart for pete sakes!

RadioShack made multiple attempts at rebranding, as if a logo or name change was going to pull them out of obscurity. It wasn’t enough.

As someone who has literally gone to RadioShacks my whole life, the one thing that RadioShack fell away from was what made it famous in the first place.

RadioShack was trailblazing as a Maker store long before people even used the term “Maker.”   Yet, as the years passed, the only things that qualified as maker-esque were buried in the far corners of the store, literally collecting dust.  Most employees, it seemed, liked techie stuff, but weren’t that well versed in maker-esque components that were on their shelves.

I went over to Google Trends and looked at a few search terms to see how often people were Googling certain terms since 2010 (I didn’t put these all on one graph because there were scaling issues)

3dprinting

3D Printing

ardui

Arduino

diy

DIY

makerspace

Maker Space

raspberru

Raspberry Pi

 

Every trend is going up.

But, not this one: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 3D Printing, Brands, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Maker Movement | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

3D Printing in the Future of Healthcare

Posted by Plish on December 2, 2014

RSNA 3D Printing Presentations

Some  RSNA attendees listen to presentations by Radiologists, Researchers and other Physicians who are using 3d Printing in their practices and research

 

Today was my 3D Printing day at RSNA.  Spent the morning listening to some amazing work being done (Chaired by  Dr. Frank Rybicki), and the afternoon taking in the rest of the show.

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First were presentations covering how flows of blood and other substances through blood vessels, could be confirmed using models.

Dr. Tam shared how 3d printing could be used to plan for, and create parts for, medical procedures.  He uses printed models in approximately 5% of his cases right now.  He also did an enlightening study that showed that when presented with 3d models, the majority of physicians in the study changed their surgical approach.  A model is indeed worth a 1000 pictures (or more!)

Dr’s Green and Mahani shared how 3d printing was used to save the life of a child whose bronchus would collapse and block airflow.  The video about this is below:

There is some amazing work at the Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. They are pushing the envelope printing living tissue. You can check out a Reuters Tech Video here.

Future directions for 3d printing in healthcare were summarized nicely by this slide:

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Number one is very provocative, and I agree with it.  While Radiologists treated the creation of 3d models as a natural extension of reading 2d images, the work required to create 3d models can be done in conjunction with intermediary scientists and engineers, so that each discipline can play to its strengths.  In the future I can see a role for “Post Processing Technicians.” These folks would be integral members of the Radiologic team whose purpose is to crunch imaging data into 3d and beyond.

I would include material science advances as an influencer in the future of 3d printing adoption.

Also, while indirectly included in the above list, cost reimbursement and FDA regulations are major players as the field matures and the technology gets adopted.

After the presentations, I visited with 3dSystems, Stratasys and Materialise ,  These companies have made, and are making, significant investments in medical uses of their technologies.   This can only accelerate the adoption of 3d printing.

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I left today excited and inspired by the work of these doctors and scientists.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

 

Posted in 3D Printing, Biology, Disruptive Innovation, Healthcare, innovation, Medical Devices, Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Maker Faire Coming to Milwaukee, Wisconsin!

Posted by Plish on July 24, 2014

 

At last!

Every year I’ve bemoaned the fact that there wasn’t a  large, local Maker Faire in Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin.

This year will be different.

Thanks to the vibrantly creative Milwaukee Community and the sponsorship of the Brady Corporation, Milwaukee will be home to a two-day Maker Faire. The event will be held at the Wisconsin State Fair Park on Sept. 27th and 28th, 2014.  Admission is FREE!!  If you’d like to do some making at the Faire, they are currently excepting applications.

For more info there is the official press release here, and be sure to check out the website.

If you plan on going, please let me know. I hope to see you there!

 

Posted in 3D Printing, Arts, Creative Environments, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Digital Manufacturing, Disruptive Innovation, innovation, invention, Maker Movement, Play, toys, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The First Day of the 2013 IDSA International Conference in Illustrated Form

Posted by Plish on August 23, 2013

Industrial Designer and Illustrator, Craighton Berman, put together these “sketchnotes” of the 2013 IDSA International Meeting – Breaking the Rules.

Thanks Craighton for the great summaries! (Click on them to open them in a new window at full size)

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LastPartofTheDay

LastPartofTheDay

Posted in 3D Printing, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, Experience, innovation, Maker Movement, Service Design, Social Innovation, Sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thoughts from the “Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo” in Chicago

Posted by Plish on July 13, 2013

I was extremely excited to check out the Inside 3D Printing conference.  I had forgotten to put it into my calendar and almost missed it.  While the speaker lineup for the conference looked interesting and provocative, for someone like myself who has been using 3D rapid prototyping technologies for somewhere between 10 and 15 years, there wasn’t enough to catch my eye for the price tag. So, I opted for registering at the door and walking the ‘expo’ portion of the conference. Besides, I had a few questions on some newer materials that I was hoping someone could answer.

When I walked through the doors I was, to say the least, underwhelmed.  I believe I counted 14 exhibitors. Some of the exhibitors I was already well acquainted with (e.g. Stratasys, 3DSystems, netfabb), others, not so much.  Nevertheless, there was some cool stuff at the show and below are some things I found really interesting, as well as some pictures of the event.

First and foremost, I was really impressed by the folks of www.thre3d.com. Check out the website.  There you’ll find what they call (and what most likely is!), “The biggest interactive 3D printing directory.”  It is a great resource for all things 3D printing.  Research manufacturers, compare products, learn about different types of 3D printing.  It’s a great resource.  While you’re browsing, if you see something that you think needs improving, let them know via the feedback tab.  They are very open to improving the service and genuinely nice people!

When you want to communicate to others what a finished design might look like, high-caliber rendering requires some serious computing power.  It’s not uncommon to start a render before going to sleep and hope that when you wake up, the rendering program hasn’t crashed and you can see the finished result.   Lagoa changes all that.  Lagoa is a cloud based rendering system – lightning fast (minutes and seconds, not hours!), real-time, reasonable pricing and even has a free subscription!  This needs to be seen to believed.  I already have a free account and am starting to play with it.

There was also a very cool 3D paper printing technology from Mcor Technologies. Using a regular ream of copy paper, this technology is much cheaper than plastic printing and great for form and fit type models – plus you can print models in full color.  You can also use them to make investment castings.  And when your model isn’t needed anymore?  Recycle it or compost it. Check out these models, and remember, that’s paper!

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Here is a video of me using this slick Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 3D Printing, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Digital Manufacturing, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, Maker Movement, Open Source, Sketching, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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