What is Technology Innovation?
At first glance, technological innovations are often invisible. Think of lithium-ion batteries. Outwardly indistinguishable, better performance, lower manufacturing costs. The innovative battery technology never goes over the counter alone. Always as a “battery” product that has been around for ages. Because technological innovation is always “under the hood”
The details are mostly patented or otherwise protected. Chemical formulations and new materials are also technology innovations. The line is blurring in the case of manufacturing-relevant technologies, which are often accompanied by new manufacturing processes, i.e. process innovations.
What are the Challenges and Risks of Technology Innovation?
Creating technological innovations means cracking tough, technical nuts. The risk is obvious. The nut cannot be cracked. Developers and engineers forge ideas and concepts, but it just doesn’t work. The solution is too complicated, too expensive, too unstable or has other disadvantages.
The tough nuts are not cracked especially when nobody believes it will work. Psychological inertia then blocks any success. It is just not being tried seriously. One of the greatest challenges of all. “We tried that 15 years ago and it didn’t work out”. Experienced developers feel this hurdle more often than greenhorns. They don’t know that it won’t work. And then just do it anyway.
A solution with teething troubles often leads to ideas being discarded too quickly. The real art in technology innovation, however, is to remain visionary and eliminate problems until the solution works.
Inertia blocks Ideas
instead of Innovation & Novelty
Who is responsible for Technology Innovation in the Company?
Technology innovation is clearly at home in the domain of the technology department. The Chief Technical Officer (CTO) often is in charge. The advance development engineer, product developer or someone in research and development (R&D) will think up and implement it. So it is mostly engineers who are entrusted with technological innovation. Material scientists, chemists and physicists are among them.
Technological innovations also come from manufacturing and production. The boundaries to process innovation are sometimes vague.
How does Innovation Consulting help with Technology Innovation?
VIEW FROM OUTSIDE
That will not do. That never worked. And then someone came along who didn’t know and just did it. The task of innovation consultants is to promote belief in what is possible. And to get experienced engineers and developers out of their box. The ability to moderate and facilitate is just as relevant as an engineering background. Without a technical eye it will be difficult.
Wherever many people with a lot of experience come together, many words are quickly spoken. Taming experts from different domains and letting them work in a targeted manner towards a common problem solution is still a good idea. The innovation consultant coordinates the discussion and ensures actual results at the end of workshops. And ideally also some groundbreaking inventions.
Perspectives from other Industries
Nobody can fool a developer and technologist on his own playing field. But what happens outside of the company premises is often surprising. Innovation consultants see many industries, companies, and use cases. And they know what others have already achieved and what is currently being tried. And which patents already exist.
Breaking PSYCHOLOGIcal Inertia
A solution is quickly devised. For almost any problem. The challenge is NOT to pursue the first typical solution that comes up. It’s not groundbreaking enough. Ten times as good! At a tenth of the cost! 100 times as fast! That must be the goal. Keeping the team from falling into old patterns of optimization but creating real innovations: innovation consulting helps to do that.
What Tools and Procedures are there for Technology Innovation?
Many have heard it, some have tried it and only a few can really apply it successfully. The inventive problem solving TRIZ. The most important and comprehensive methodology in technology innovation. The best known tool is the contradiction matrix. Well suited even for beginners. At the same time, TRIZ is a toolbox that is still growing, contains at least 20 tools that every developer should know and is now also celebrating successes in other types of innovation.
Technology innovation arises particularly from the collaboration of experts from different specialist areas. Finding a common ground and language is often a challenge. A method called ‘network of problems and solutions’ is the best basis for this important task.
Parameters, benchmarks and target values are the basis for a good specification sheet. Technology innovation also needs that. The innovation QFD is the perfect tool for this.
Bionics also provides clues for future technologies and innovations. Although mostly not as easy to translate into reality as desired. But TRIZ helps again.