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Acknowledgements

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Figures

Figures 1 and 64 © DIY Picture Library.

Figure 2 Courtesy of Dyson (UK) Ltd.

Figures 4 and 70 ©John Frost Historical Newspapers.

Figures 4, 5(l), 18, 35, 45, 75 Richard Hearne/ Open University.
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Part 3: 5 Self-assessment questions

SAQ 8

20 Part 3: 4 Phases and waves of innovation

To wrap up this section I'll take a broad look at the innovation process. It's possible to think of innovation at different levels of generalisation. There are individual stages that innovations go through from invention to diffusion – these are sometimes called phases. At a higher level of generalisation each complete set of phases for a group of related technologies can be seen as a wave. Sometimes such waves appear close together and combine to have a revolutionary impact.<
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19 Part 3: 3 Sustaining and disruptive innovation

Once an innovation starts diffusing into the marketplace it can have differing degrees of impact. As mentioned in Part 1, although innovations generally offer progress, there are some that complement existing ways of doing things and some that are more dramatic in their impact. In his book called The Innovator's Dilemma Clayton M. Christensen (2003) labels these two types of innovation sustaining and disruptive.

Sustaining innovations are those that improve the performance of est
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18.4 MP3's diffusion depended on innovations in related areas

As well as being small and portable, MP3 devices have a number of additional competitive advantages. Digital compression allows the size of recordings to be significantly smaller without noticeable loss of sound quality so the capacity of portable devices can be much greater. Compatibility with computer systems means that music can be acquired from the internet or from a CD and easily manipulated into a sequence desired by the user.

Although MP3 players had been around for a number of y
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18.3 Characteristics of consumers and the market

As well as the characteristics of an innovation affecting the extent of its take-up, the nature of the market and the purchasing behaviour of consumers can influence success. Some people will always try to be among the first to buy a new product – Rogers (2003) calls people in this group innovators (Author(s): The Open University

18.2.5 Trialability

It helps to be able to try innovations before buying. While this isn't common for most innovations it can reduce any uncertainty the buyer might have about committing to a purchase and can increase the speed of diffusion. Buying a car usually involves a test drive that, although it probably isn't a fair reflection of the range of conditions under which the product will eventually be used, is better than nothing.


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18.2.3 Complexity

If an innovation is perceived as difficult to use it will diffuse more slowly than one that is easy to understand. For example users of early personal computers needed an understanding of a programming language in order to use their machines. For most potential PC users this made the innovation too complex to consider buying. Then a graphical user interface was developed and incorporated by Apple Computer into the Lisa computer in 1983 (Author(s): The Open University

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

17.4 Standards and their role in innovation

Standards were originally related to units of measurement. The first ‘standard’ was the Egyptian royal cubit, which was made of black granite and was said to be equivalent to the length of the Pharoah's forearm and hand. This was also subdivided into finger, palm and hand widths – one ‘small cubit’ was equivalent to six palms. But because the human forearm was the master reference this meant that the cubit varied in different parts of the world. Over thousands of years agreement ove
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14 Part 2: 5 Self-assessment questions

SAQ 4

What are the four main factors that motivate individuals to invent?

Answer

Individuals are motivated to invent by one or more factors:

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11.7 Characteristics of inventors

In their classic book The Sources of Invention (1969) John Jewkes, David Sawers and Richard Stillerman observe the following about inventors, whether working outside or inside an organisation.

  • Inventors tend to be absorbed with their own ideas and to feel strongly about their importance and potential.

  • Inventors can be impatient with those who don't share their optimism.

  • Inventors are often isolated because they are
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11.5.2 Transfer

Transfer is where a technology, manufacturing process or material is transferred to another field to provide the basis for an invention. Earlier we saw how laser technology, originally thought to have few practical uses, was transferred to a variety of different applications including surgery, welding and cutting metal, bar-code readers, and audio CDs.


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10.7.2 Follow the leader

Some companies have a defensive strategy and aim to follow the leader. Such companies hope to profit from the mistakes of the first-to-market company by devising incremental design and performance improvements and cost reductions compared with the original product. In addition they hope to exploit the new market that has started to grow, so timing is important. In the area of consumer electronics, for example, most of the inventions (radio, television, audio and video tape recording) w
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10.6 What drives invention in organisations?

Much invention and nearly all innovation nowadays take place inside organisations – from small start-up companies to well-established multinationals. This is mainly because increasingly invention and innovation require access to technology and resources beyond the scope of most individuals. But it is also because competitiveness and survival depend on the continual improvement of a company's products and processes. This provides a strong incentive for companies to invest in both the increme
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10.5 Desire to help others

This is a less common motivation but it shows not everyone is driven by money.

In 1991 the inventor Trevor Baylis saw a BBC documentary about the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. What was needed was a way of broadcasting the safe-sex message to people in areas without electricity and where batteries for a radio could cost a month's wages. Solar power wouldn't necessarily help as most people who could get to a radio listened in the evening after work. While absorbing this information he ima
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Learning outcomes

After reading this unit you should be able to:

  • appreciate diagrams as a powerful aid to thinking and acting;

  • distinguish between systems diagrams and diagrams helpful in systems work;

  • demonstrate sufficient skills to ‘read’ and ‘draw’ a wide range of diagrams, following given conventions, that help improve your understanding of a situation;

  • select diagrams suited to the needs of the situation you are investigating and the purp
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References

Bailey, R.W. (1982) Human Performance Engineering:A guide for systems designers, New Jersey, Prentice Hall.
Blackler, A., Popovic, V. and Mahar, D. (2003) ‘Intuitive use of products’, Design Studies.
Jordan, P. (2000) Designing Pleasurable Products, London, Taylor and Francis.
Norman, D. A. (1998) The Design
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13 Products for markets

Japanese car companies came to dominate in many countries in the 1980s, and this was in part attributable to their marketing research and emphasis on designing products for particular market segments. An example is the car firm Nissan, which researches national preferences for various car attributes in different countries. For instance, it is reputed to have provided its cars with softer suspensions in Germany, firmer steering in the UK, and noisier exhausts in Italy. There are other reasons
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11.1 he four pleasures

In consumerist societies, buying, using and displaying products has come to represent a certain type of pleasure. This pleasure principle has to be acknowledged in new product development and design. The designer Kenneth Grange has said that a guiding design principle for him is that a product should be ‘a pleasure to use’.

The pleasures of using a product are derived from the perceived benefits it offers to the user. Can we be more explicit in planning product benefits that are ple
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