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Dynamism in Innovation

Dynamism in Innovation

| On 30, Apr 2008

Jack Hipple

What’s dynamism? It’s the changing of a product, system, or service in response to “something” or a pro-active management of a product, service, or organization in response to both anticipated or unanticipated conditions. In my opinion, it is one of the most powerful and least utilized innovation thinking tools. First of all, if we look at the history of products, technology, or services, we see a constant movement toward a more dynamic state. Examples:

  1. Table saws. There’s a series of patents from 1991 to 1995 (to three different companies!) showing the transition from a 180 degree linear table saw to one that tilts at a 45 degree angle to one that rotates in a 360 degree fashion, allowing the cutting at any angle.

  2. Airlines. The price of a seat, on most airlines, is now a function of not only when you book, but where you want to sit and what competitors are doing at any instant in time. A few airlines change their meal selection on longer flights based on average airfare on the plane (I.e. Dallas to Orlando vs. Dallas to JFK–what’s the difference?).

  3. Shavers. Norelco has come out with a electric shaver that, for the first time, rotates all blades in a 360 degree fashion.

  4. Outsourcing. Numerous companies now outsource what they believe to be variable needs and positions to protect their paid staff from layoffs and downsizings.

  5. Soda/pop machines. In a short lived, but famous, example, Coca Cola was planning to change the electronic pricing on their soft drink machines at the Atlanta Olympics to change in response to outside temperature–the hotter it is, the more you pay. The Wall Street Journal got wind of this, published an article, and that was the end of that idea, but an interesting concept, don’t you think? Not exactly supply and demand pricing, but a version of it.

  6. Laptop power cords. It used to be one charger for any laptop and if you lost one, very expensive. Now Targus and others have one charger with 10 different adopters to fit virtually any laptop.

  7. Pants and luggage. It was not too long ago that expandable waists in pants and slacks became widely available and also the built in expandability of luggage size through the use of a temporary zipper.

  8. Automobile systems. Wipers change speed based on car speed. Radio volume changes with speed. Braking light intensity changes with brake pedal pressure. Seats automatically adjust to user based on key entry.

  9. Software. Most word processing software that we use has the capability to recognize the style in which you typing a document and begin to indent, etc. automatically.

  10. Call centers. The speed with which your call is answered is a function of your status as a card holder.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Dynamism or the ability of a product or service to change—automatically, if possible, is a well known successful ideation stimulant. When I look at the many of these example, I ask myself the question, why so long? Sometimes we wait for a customer to complain and that’s long after the need is really there. Don’t wait! Take every product or service you are involved with and ask yourself–how could we make it more dynamic? More responsive? To what? When? And think about dynamism from many different perspectives–engineering design, product functionality, different users, different time and conditions. If you don’t make your product or service more dynamic, someone else will! Don’t wait for a customer to tell you–they may not as they don’t know how to do it. You probably do.