Assistant Professor Technology
Kent State University
Improving the Fuzzy Front End of Product Development for Continuous Innovation Incorporating TRIZ
In this article, Dr. Coates explores why have famous companies failed to innovate on a continuous basis. Putting aside socioeconomic disasters, downstream product development failures, or rollout blunders, many legacy companies have failed because they lack the front end management and technology systems that allow for a continuous flow of new products, processes, or services that outperform their competitors. Many had great beginnings and now have questionable futures. He discusses the development of a model for continuous innovation has been developed from a variety of sources, where TRIZ plays a critical role.
Why have many legacy companies been unable to innovate continuously? A study of several famous companies that have stumbled in innovation reveals that it is not just one activity but a multitude of them that are not executed well. That is why "if it were easy everyone would be doing it." Innovation has been defined as invention brought to the market. The federal government has tried to measure innovation and found it very difficult. Work is ongoing to collect information on important factors for innovation but most measure factors that are results versus critical skills that drive innovation. A model for continuous innovation has been developed from a variety of sources, including the author's 40 years in the appliance industry. The model incorporates four key parts and arguably the most important part is problem solving and problem identification. This is where TRIZ plays a critical role since problems poorly solved or not solved lead to weak invention and innovation that can be trumped easily. The details of the model will be explained with associated forms that are useful for implementation.