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Are You Using This Innovation Technique That is a Favorite of NASA?

Posted by Plish on October 25, 2018

I just saw the movie First Man, about Neil Armstrong and the quest to put a human on the moon. (Good movie 🙂 )

What struck me again while watching the movie is that the main innovation technique NASA uses to put a person on the moon is also one of my favorites.

SEGMENTATION

There are other names for it, but it comes down to this: break down a bigger problem, device, situation, etc. into smaller components that are easier to handle and design solutions for.

NASA uses segmentation extensively in the Apollo program.  The best way to illustrate it is by looking at the Saturn V rocket diagram below.

What’s with the red thingie?

That’s the component that ultimately mattered at the end – it’s the capsule that brought the astronauts back to earth.  The rest of the rocket components ended up on the moon, in orbit,  in the ocean or burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere.  They weren’t necessarily less important, but their jobs were specific to specific phases of the project.

apollo

Why throw it all away?

The physics of getting something into space is relatively straightforward.  Take something  and accelerate it to escape velocity.  The problem is that the the heavier the payloads, the more fuel that’s required, and the more fuel that’s required, the heavier the rocket  becomes.  It’s a nasty catch 22.

So, to solve the problem, you break things into modules.  Launch the rocket, when it gets to a certain speed, you get rid of part of the rocket, and use different fuels to propel what’s left (which now weighs less) even faster, and so on.

What’s the key then to Segmentation?

The key is that each component contains only what is necessary for that stage in the launch, or more generally, for each step in a process. By doing this, the design can be streamlined and optimized.

For example, the lunar module (shown below) had very specific tasks:

  1. Dock with the Command Module
  2. Land on the Moon
  3. Take off from the Moon
  4. Dock with the Command Module
  5. Separate from the Command Module

lunar_module_diagram

Landing gear and pads are only required for landing. Descent engine is for landing.  Ladder is for getting onto the surface of the moon.

Once business was complete on the moon, the upper half of the module left the lower half on the moon and was now smaller and lighter.  Its job was now to rendezvous with the Command Module, dock, and transfer the astronauts back into the Command vehicle.

It then was jettisoned.  None of the Lunar Module was brought back to earth – well except for the astronauts inside.  (There’s an interesting non-obvious segmentation going on here  – even the crew was segmented!  Only two astronauts went to the moon and back.  The third astronaut stayed in the command module.  Sending all three to the moon could’ve been done, but the segmentation solution was safer, more elegant and more efficient)

It’s about optimization

Next time you’re confronted with a problem, try Segmentation.  Break down the problem into stages and see if each can be solved with specialized solutions – all inter-related, but standalone in their ability to achieve a goal.

There’s a tendency to design products so that they solve all the possible problems a user might have.  What happens then is that the product can get unwieldy, lose its elegance and often its appeal.

Keep it elegant by  using Segmentation!

This coincidentally opens the door to modularity.  You can then sell modules that do entirely different, or complimentary tasks.  Why sell a frying pan with a lid that’s permanently attached with hinge?  Sure you may find it useful but the lid is only used under certain circumstances.  The rest of the time it’ll be clunky and difficult to manage.  Keep it separate.

Segmentation has always been a favorite innovation approach of mine.  Try it and I’m sure you’ll agree!

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Posted in creativity, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Want A New Year’s Resolution to Increase Your Innovation Output? – Try This

Posted by Plish on January 2, 2018

Happy New Year!!

Yes, it’s the new year.  A fresh slate.  It’s time for that time honored tradition of making resolutions.

In the world of innovation, there is one resolution you can make that will result in more creative ideas, more really creative innovations.

But before we make that resolution, Let’s Toast with a Heineken!

Heineken’s interactive, Ignite beer bottle is a thing to behold.  It’s not just a passive hunk of glass that holds a liquid.  It’s an active participant, sensing and responding, thus encouraging certain behaviors.

But their work has gone beyond the bottle.  Heineken also uses IoT and AR to increase sales and optimize the sales and distribution process.

The point here is that Heineken is not just seeing themselves as providing beer.  They see themselves as providing an experience.  From the store to the nightclub, they understand that people have lives, they act in certain ways in certain situations. When designing products with this in mind, not only does Heineken see improved sales and distribution, but people enjoy the product more!

What does this have to do with the New Year’s Resolution?

Everything.   Great innovations come from great ideas that dive into the depths of reality.  In Heineken’s case, these innovations come from a shift in perspective.  They look beyond the obvious and embrace the breadth and depth of the product experience.

At the heart of these innovations is a realization that for every action there is not only a reaction but a pre-action, and there are reasons for these actions.

Let’s Buy a Hammer

I want to buy a hammer to drive a nail into a wall.  Chances are, I don’t just want a nail in a wall.  I want to hang a picture.  But, I don’t just want to hang a picture, I want to beautify the room, or bring back a memory.  You see where this is going.

Most hammer manufacturers are making something to drive a nail.  It’s why hammers are virtually unchanged for decades.  They focus on efficient nail driving. But,  the nail is more than that, and in fact, it’s part of the process to create an experience – it’s not just about driving nails. (Other companies have realized that.  Nail-less hangers and non-marring adhesives all get at the ‘hanging’ part of the process.  But they still don’t necessarily see the whole picture. HA! No pun intended 😉 )

Heineken, on the other hand, is exploring the many tentacles of before, after, during and why.  Beer is purchased and consumed in specific contexts.   It’s not just a bottle.  It’s part of an experience.  We share a toast.  We drink in clubs.  We clink bottles.  We savor and feel the beat of the music.  The bottle is in the midst of all this, and it’s a shame that it’s been a passive part of that experience. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  

The bottle can enrich the experience. 

It can participate in the club environment – it can sense and respond, and because it does, it creates it’s own feedback.  We gain pleasure from experiencing the bottle and its contents, so we encourage and repeat certain behaviors.

At the end of the day though, it’s not about bottles. It’s about innovative products and services that bring exciting and memorable experiences.

So let’s make that Resolution!

I resolve to look for, and design for, the Truth behind the Reality.

whoa…. that’s deep.

Not really.   It’s just a more thorough way of innovating.

Explore context. Explore ritual.  Explore relationships.  Explore meaning.

Personally I like the AEIOU framework:

A: Activities are goal directed sets of actions – things which people want to accomplish

E: Environments include the entire arena where activities take place

I: Interactions are between a person and someone or something else, and are the building blocks of activities

O: Objects are building blocks of the environment, key elements sometimes put to complex or unintended uses, changing their function, meaning and context

U: Users are the consumers, the people providing the behaviors, preferences and needs (Christina Wasson, quoting E-Lab, 1977)

Courtesy of https://www.10000ft.com/design-recipes/aeiou-research-framework

There are other systems like POEMS, POSTA, etc., but the point of them all is to find and design for the truth behind the reality.  Look at the big picture – don’t settle for the obvious!

The Reality: I want drive a nail into a wall

The Truth Behind the Reality: I want to take a step to beautify a room with a picture from a vacation to remind everyone of the great memories there

The Reality: I want to have a cold beer at a night club

The Truth Behind the Reality: I want to have fun!  I want a night of memories, a night of interaction!

The Reality:  A surgeon wants to cut a hole in the skin

The Truth Behind the Reality: A surgeon wants to quickly and easily place a device. The surgeon wants the patient to feel better so that she can go to her grand-daughter’s wedding in a week.

Where do you think the innovations are going to come from?

Designing for “The Reality” or for “The Truth Behind the Reality”?

Sure, innovation can come from just designing for “The Reality”.  In a world where all that is needed are nails driven into a surface, a new design of hammer – a nail gun – will be hailed as an innovation.    But let’s look at the “Truth Behind the Reality”:    How will people with nail guns interact with each other and the nails?  What about being able to use it in cold, or heat, or rain, or underwater?  Are we just putting up boards or building a house that will be a home? What about types of materials being nailed?  Who is buying the nail driver?  Are nail drivers even necessary?

See the difference?  Ideas will start flowing once we look under the surface.

The choice is yours

You can choose to design for “The Reality”.  You can make another hammer, another beer, another beer container.

But understand the “Truth Behind the Reality” and you will design products and services that Ignite experiences.

Make the resolution and stick to it.  

I resolve to look for, and design for, the Truth behind the Reality.

The world will thank you!

 

 

Posted in creativity, Design, Disruptive Innovation, innovation, Innovation Tools, observation, problem solving, Research, Service Design, Technology, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are You Innovating for This Shifting Healthcare Paradigm?

Posted by Plish on October 17, 2017

Michael Plishka Midwest Sensors

Michael Plishka speaking at the 2017 Midwest Sensors Conference

A little over a week ago I gave a talk at the Midwest Sensors Conference entitled: Sensor-Driven Healthcare: Innovative Applications Today & Tomorrow.  Besides being a lot of fun, it was great to be able to share my perspectives on the directions of cutting edge of healthcare which is being made possible by the explosion of newer sensor technologies.

But…sensors are more than hardware

Too often people think of sensors as these little pieces of electronics.  The fact is, sensors are part of an entire complex – an ecosystem if you will.  If you take the entire ecosystem into account when designing products, or at least leverage the relationships in the ecosystem, your products will be more innovative and be better able to make a splash.  So what does that ecosystem look like?

Changing paradigms – from Clinician Centered to Patient Centered and beyond

In the current Clinician Centered Paradigm (below), all sensor output, the results of all the tests flows to the Clinician and the Clinician then curates the information and shares it with the patient.  This makes the patient dependent upon the Clinician.  There is some flow back and forth, but the ‘behind the scenes’ information flows through the Clinician.

Clinician Centered Paradigm

Clinician Centered Paradigm

In the currently emerging Patient Centered Paradigm,  increasing accessibility to, and popularity of, sensor technology has created a means to reverse the flow of information, and give more power to the patient.

Patient Centered Paradigm

Patient Centered Paradigm

While the Clinician can still have the same role as the old paradigm (shown in purple), the new paradigm can bypass the Clinician entirely.   Patients can get information about themselves through various sensor technologies, and they can share what they want, when they want, with the Clinician.  Patients are the curators of their health information. The take-away here is that the Clinician isn’t driving data acquisition – Patients are.  So, any products that make the process of obtaining information, deciphering it and communicating it both to Patients, and perhaps to Clinicians, will be ahead of the game.

There’s a New Game afoot

A newer paradigm is emerging simultaneously with the Patient Centered Paradigm.  This paradigm can push the Clinician even further to the fringes of Patient health.

How?

With the growth Artificial Intelligence (AI).

future

The Future “Patient Centered Plus” Paradigm

This paradigm, the “Patient Centered Plus” Paradigm, brings Artificial-Intelligence/Deep-Learning into the mix.  This technology can take the results of millions of tests and tease out patterns that Clinicians most likely wouldn’t see.  As the outputs from these sensors get stored, sifted through, and analyzed, new insights into data will become apparent through the use of Artificial Intelligence.  Armed with this information, Patients will approach Clinicians (if they so desire) with a specific likely diagnosis, and the Clinician will then have to figure out a treatment.

Is the Clinician even needed?

In reality, yes.  There is a depth of expertise that Clinicians have that Patients won’t.  Not to mention they still have surgical expertise as well as the ability to order more in-depth tests and treatments.  However, Patients could well have a perception that Clinicians are not necessary, and in so doing, miss valuable input into their healthcare.  This could result in Clinicians being brought into the mix ‘too late in the game’ to do any good.

Clinicians need to adjust as well

There needs to be a shift in how Clinicians approach the relationship between technology and the Patient. (It goes without saying that Medical Schools will need to change their approaches to optimize the educational process in light of AI and a Patient Centered Paradigm.)  There needs to be a way to make sure that Clinicians can be a meaningful link in the Patient Centered Paradigm. But, this can’t be made possible if Clinicians cling to the old paradigm.

So where’s the danger?

There is the potential to create a divide between the Patient and Clinician.  Now that Patients are becoming more aware of, and acting upon, their new found freedom of access to their own health data through new sensor techs, removing that freedom won’t be a palatable solution.  However, leaving the Clinician entirely out of the loop is not a wise approach either.

The solution is ‘both/and’

Newer products and services should find ways of bringing the Clinician into the picture (as needed) without alienating the Patient by taking away autonomy.  It ultimately needs to be a team approach.  Sensor technologies, and in fact, all technology in Healthcare, needs to play within the newer emerging relational paradigms.  A return to a Clinician Centered paradigm is neither wise or prudent.

So where are the innovative products?

In short, take a look at the emerging paradigms above.  You can focus on the nodes, or perhaps more powerfully, focus on the verbs, the actions, the connections between the nodes.  Optimizing them has the most potential to improve the patient experience.

What do you think about these paradigms? 

Where should innovators be focusing their energies?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Healthcare, innovation, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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