Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Innovation Methodologies: From Dilemma to Die lama!

It was James Lovelock the environmentalist and originator of Gaia hypothesis (*) that got me thinking about why different methods of studying and testing phenomena lead to different results and outcomes.

In his book ‘The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning: Enjoy It While You Can.’ He tells of the infighting amongst the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). How approximately one-thousand lead scientists (and the institutions they represent) are in strong contention about the actual physical numbers of climate change (temperature rises, sea levels, rainfall, et al) and the outcomes that will amount from such changes (population displacement, food supply, economy, etc).

The point he makes clear is that for the most part, each scientific institution uses different methodologies, producing different mathematical models, giving different results. Simply that different strokes lead to different folks. Hence the IPCC’s contention!

Well, it is the very same for innovation, whether a new product, core-technology, novel service system, even new ways in education, medicine and even law.

I know this, because of my many years as a design engineer spending considerable time overseeing the performance testing of new gadgets. That different ‘Design-of-Experiment’ methodologies give slightly (and sometime dramatically) different performance results and outcome.

The main point here is harmonisation!

I'm not talking about the test parameters and targets here. They are specified in the numerous international qualification and certification standards (IEC, BSI, ISO, WEEE, JAR/FAR, etc). But harmonise the system!

First, it is important to select a method that is empirically based. A technique that is based on real physically measurable numbers rather than pure or abstract mathematical modelling.

Second, chose a method that is systematic (See side-bar 'Get Real: Rapid Prototyping').

Third, by all means improve the system, but harmonise and keep that same system when comparing results with former (and latter) results. That is, if each time you test a new product (or service system), you use a different set of test methods you are going to get different results and outcomes over time. 

In fact, we can take a leaf out of The Dalai Lama’s iPAD of philosophy, the Dharma,’ saying ‘that which upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe.’ As well as referring to Law in the universal sense, the dharma designates those behaviours considered necessary for the maintenance of the natural order of things.

Hence: Innovation Methodologies: From Dilemma to Die lama!’

(* The postulate that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling the chemical and physical environment).