Friday, August 03, 2012

Ten Types of Innovative Tasks

I am often asked to help with innovation: in products, technologies, or business services. When I talk to people asking me, I find that rather often they do not realize exactly what kind of innovation they want. But innovative solutions and new ideas can vary significantly and solve different types of tasks. On top of that, to use systematic innovation tools (like TRIZ), we need to know what we want to achieve to select a right process.

Therefore I use my own classification of ten categories of tasks which can be identified:
  1. Improve quality of a product, process, or service: e.g. eliminate negative, unwanted and undesired effects, increase robustness.
  2. Improve performance of a product, process, or service: e.g. raise performance of positive effects, functions, or other features.
  3. Increase “compactness” of a product, process or service: e.g. decrease physical dimensions, process or service time, reduce energy consumption, or eliminate human involvement.
  4. Improve ergonomics, usability and use comfort.
  5. Improve design, aesthetics, psychological attractiveness.
  6. Add new functions or features to existing products, process, services.
  7. Create a radically new design (form, shape) of a product.
  8. Radically cut either production or total ownership costs of a product, process, or service.
  9. Find new application areas for an existing product (technology), process or service.
  10. Create a radically new product, technology, process or service.
Some more general tasks like a general innovative improvement of a system, or patent circumvention were not included to this classification since they usually can be decomposed to one of these tasks.

In every area of innovation, a number of solutions in each category grows towards the top of this list. Statistically there are many more innovative solutions improving quality than radically cutting costs, for instance.

The question might arise: are the solutions to the tasks at the bottom of the list address disruptive innovations while solutions to the tasks at the top of the list are incremental? In most cases yes, but not always. Everything depends on a scale of change that should be made to achive a speicifc goal. Sometimes to solve a quality-related problem, for instance, decreasing a number of accidents, a radical change of a basic principle behind a product or a service is needed which results in disruptive innovation.

In addition, according to numerous requests, I made an overview of tools which are used most frequently within xTRIZ framework to support 10 types of innovative tasks. The overview can be found at:

No comments: