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7.1 Introduction

The last activity was a demanding task. People I asked to do it during the writing of this unit, found it took a lot of concentration but it brought up lots of ideas, feelings and suggestions for action. Most of them were also concerned their rich picture might not be good enough. I imagine you will share some of these reactions. If you share any of these concerns, remember there are lots of ways of drawing a good rich picture and almost all rich pictures can be improved. Improving your rich
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6 Part 2: 2 Immersing yourself in complexity

The first three activities in Figure 4 are to plan a strategy, then to immerse yourself in an example of complexity, and then represent that complexity through drawing a rich picture. I've selected a rich picture as the focus of this task because it is a means of bringing you into a r
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2.3 Taking responsibility for your own learning

Not much of this unit conforms to the traditional pattern I mentioned earlier – the theory-example-exercise pattern. In particular, you will find you are expected to discover much of it for yourself. Why is this? This is a legitimate question and deserves a full answer. One year, a student at a residential summer school complained I had not taught him properly. I was, he told me, an expert and so why did I not demonstrate how to tackle the problem he was working on and pass my expertise on
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18.2.2 Compatibility

An innovation that is compatible with the experiences, values and needs of its potential buyers will be adopted more rapidly than one that isn't compatible. For example mobile phones have spread rapidly because they are compatible with social and cultural trends towards faster communications, increased personal mobility and the desirability of high-tech gadgets. However the car seat belt, patented in 1903, wasn't adopted on any significant scale until the 1970s (Author(s): The Open University

11.5.4 Analogy

Analogy draws on similar situations to provide ideas for invention and design. Alexander Graham Bell used the analogy of the human ear when designing telephone apparatus to receive sound. As mentioned above, his first receivers were much better than his transmitters where the analogy with the ear didn't work as well. When devising their flying machine, the Wright brothers used the analogy of soaring birds twisting their wings to restore balance. They designed the wings of their aircraft to be
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5.8 Dominant design

In most examples of evolving technological innovation there is a period when rival designs are competing to outperform each other, both in what they do and how well they appeal to the consumer. Certain features of a product or process come to be recognised as meeting key needs and they are incorporated in subsequent improved versions of the design. Other features might meet too narrow a set of needs to be economical and are dropped.

Gradually what emerges is a dominant design, wh
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5.4 Product champion

Throughout the development of this innovation Edison endeavoured, by means of persuasive argument and demonstrations of progress, to convince those people who were in a position to help further the success of the electric light that it had great potential. These people included financiers who could provide capital for more research and development, industrialists who might install it in their factories, and politicians who might agree to the large-scale city installation of a lighting system.
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5.1 Introduction to key concepts

Before I go any further I will establish the meaning of some of the key concepts that you will encounter throughout this unit.

The key concepts elaborated in this unit are:

  • inventor

  • invention

  • design

  • product champion

  • entrepreneur

  • improver

  • innovation

  • dominant design

  • robust design

  • lean design

  • radical
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4.1 An explanation

I will now elaborate on my answer from Exercise 1. I'm doing this because my internet search revealed more than I've written in the above answer, and to show that the invention of the telephone and its use by consumers is not as plain and simple as you may think. You we
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2.2 The inventive drive

What events and ideas spurred people to come up with thousands of inventions in the last 100 years?

Ron Hickman was a do-it-yourself enthusiast who damaged a chair being used to support a piece of wood he was sawing. Instead of merely being annoyed at the accident he set about designing and building a prototype of a combined workbench and sawhorse to prevent further damage to his furniture. This became the Workmate (Author(s): The Open University

2.1 Everyday life

Picture an everyday scene. You're in a high street coffee shop. All around you people are drinking coffee. Some people are chatting with friends, others are using their mobile phone. A few individuals seem to be working – consulting their laptop computers, scribbling notes. In a corner of the coffee shop an internet cafe has been set up. At one table a couple of teenagers are laughing at a message in a chat room, while at another table an old chap searches the Web for something.

Now
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Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • explain invention, design, innovation and diffusion as ongoing processes with a range of factors affecting success at each stage;

  • explain how particular products you use have a history of invention and improvement, and appreciate the role that you and your family, as consumers, have played in this history;

  • define key concepts such as invention, design, innovation, diffusion, product champion, entrep
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Module team

The T552 course team

Andy Lane, course team chair and author (1999) Karen Shipp, course team chair (2002)

Rosalind Armson, author and critical reader

Jake Chapman, author

Eion Farmer, author and critical reader

John Hamwee, author

John Martin, author

Laurence Newman, course manager

Wendy Fisher, author

John Hudson, author

Graham Paton, author

Roberts, author

Christine Bla
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1.3.8 Diagrams for communication

Commonly used diagrams for communication follow conventions that are widely understood, many diagrams used for connectivity as previously discussed also lend themselves to use in communicating ideas. A diagram developed for communication:

  • is large, clear and well laid out;

  • has shading and/or colour for emphasis;

  • has a title; and

  • has a key to the meaning of all the symbols used in the diagram.


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1.3.7 Diagrams for planning and implementation

The first principle in planning is: be clear about your own direction and purpose – in other words, your values and why you are doing anything. You can use the technique of asking why? And then why? of the answer. And then why? of the answer to that. Keep repeating this process until you get back to your underlying values to create an objectives tree or network to help you define the direction in which you wish to go and the steps necessary to get there.

In an objectives
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1.3.6 Diagrams for diagnosis

As the detail of the connectivity revealed through a diagram increases, many diagrams can be used for diagnosis by comparing a diagram of what should be happening with what is happening. This approach has been developed in detail by Bignell and Fortune (1984) to analyse systems failures. They argue that all satisfactory systems have functioning decision-making, operational and performance monitoring systems and that many failures can be explained by a failure in one of these aspects, even whe
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1.3.5 Diagrams for further analysis and quantitative model building

To gain further understanding of the connectivity in a situation, a multiple cause diagram can be converted into a sign graph by indicating whether the cause has a positive effect or a negative effect by adding the respective signs. Not all multiple cause diagrams lend themselves to this treatment as you need much greater knowledge of the situation to be able to be sure about the causal chains in a situation and the effects they are likely to have. Sign graphs are particularly useful
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1.3.4 Diagrams for connectivity

Relationship diagrams offer one way of putting more order into your understanding of a situation. Each element of a situation is named in an oval and lines between ovals indicate that there are relationships between the particular elements – but no more than this!

Systems maps are another way of developing one's understanding of a situation. Systems maps are essentially ‘structure’ diagrams. Each element or sub-system is contained in a circle or oval and a line is d
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1.2.4 Conveying information to others

Diagrams are used extensively in most types of texts, but why do authors use them? There are two main reasons:

  • to illustrate what something looks like;

  • to demonstrate how objects or ideas or quantities are organised or related.

But there is also a subsidiary reason I hinted at. Authors also use diagrams:

  • to decorate and enhance the text to make it more pleasing to read.


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12.1.1 Survey questionnaires

Questionnaires are lists of questions that enable information to be gathered efficiently from a relatively large number of respondents. Most questionnaires require a fixed type of response, such as a choice between available answers, or along a scale of response. For example, a product design questionnaire might suggest, ‘I found the product easy to use’ and provide a five-point scale of response from ‘agree strongly’ to ‘disagree strongly’. Or a question might be, ‘how often do
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