Innovation mindset – How to create opportunities out of nowhere
When something is not right, or right enough, it is usually easy to seek a solution. But what when all seems OK? Where do you start looking – for opportunities, not solutions.
That is what innovation mindset is all about. Let us see it with the help of an example.
Say, you manufacture the simple hinges that are used in the door of this cupboard of mine.
If you are not getting any complaints about the hinge, can you not do anything to improve your business/product? That is what innovation is all about.
Since there seems to be no problem, what can you do about it? What is important is not what you suggest now but HOW YOU THINK THIS THROUGH. Is there some technique for such cases? Something that makes it learnable and repeatable?
Yes, there is. In TRIZ, it is called Function Analysis. What function does this hinge fulfil? It allows the door to be attached to the cupboard in a way that it can open and close, as required. If that can not be improved (since there seems to be no complaint, as of now), what do we do?
TRIZ tells us – let us move to function optimization i.e. give it additional functions. What more can it do? Is there something being done by some other devices, which may be taken over by this hinge? That would be economical and convenient, isn’t it?
With this changed focus, we look around and now see that we use force of hand to close the door. The hinge plays no part in it. But what if it is made to i.e. keep the door attached to the cupboard AS ALSO help in automatic closing of the door, when just nudged towards it?
Oh, why not. All it needs is some made of a spring mechanism that pulls the door towards the cupboard. Two jobs done by a hinge. With that opportunity clear, it was simple to design such a hinge.
As you would have noticed, once the focus of thinking became clear ie. find a way to get the hinge to also pull the door inwards when slightly nudged, it was quite easy to find a way to do it.
It was not a problem of technology but one of getting the right focus. Once that is done, technology will almost always make it possible.
This illustration may not be one in which a major opportunity was exploited. However, I hope it serves to make the point that we need thinking techniques to generate opportunities, as much as we do to solve problems.
TRIZ is the ONLY discipline that makes it possible. Get those techniques. TRIZ has several techniques that allow you to create money making opportunities where earlier you only saw a drab metal hinge.