Innovation and Lean Development

In a recent e-mail discussion with Timothy Schipper and Mark Swets (authors of Innovative Lean Development: How to Create, Implement and Maintain a Learning Culture Using Fast Learning Cycles), I asked them both to succinctly explain to me why innovation and lean development are important skills for an organization to develop and foster. They replied jointly, and I am posting the response here as many readers will find it quite interesting:

"What you need to know about the problem or solution to an opportunity may only become apparent as you try to solve it. The key to design is the effective management of the dual exploration of both the problem space and the solution space. Rapid learning cycles bring both effectiveness and efficiency to any product or service innovation challenge. A design team faces two difficulties: the first is to understand the problem, and the second is to find a solution. There is no logical, straight line to success. The team or individual must work back and forth between solution and problem, between innovative ideas and the requirement definitions. Multiple learning cycles provide the way out of this messy problem. The problem and the solution co-evolve in the same design process."

What are your thoughts on this response?


George said...

Good point Michael, a good way to understand innovation is that the problem (or challenge) is actually composed a many smaller problems that must be overcome to solve the initial one. As a solution starts to take form, it quickly begins to uncover other problems. Thus, you mimic the Lean PDCA cycle, but in the innovation cycle.

A simple example of this was the first attempt at supersonic flight. The first thought at solving the problem was adding a powerful rocket to an airframe. When the solution was tested by Chuck Yeager in 1946 another unforeseen problem came about - extreme shaking of the airframe as the sound barrier was approached. The solution to this became the delta wing.

George Rathbun
President and CEO
INCENT Solutions

brenda said...

Interesting example George.. what you described is the ability to adapt the solution to a problem.. That in my world is called adaptive change management other understanding the value of non linear approaches play on the linear world of problem solving... these skills are critical to success in any environment that has complex challenges to solve.