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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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5.5 Entrepreneur

From this it is clear that money is a key requirement for transforming an invention into an innovation. Money pays for the people and equipment needed to refine the invention into a practical working prototype, and money pays for manufacturing it.

A key role in providing this vital monetary support is played by the entrepreneur. This is a persuasive individual or group providing the resources and organisation necessary to turn the invention into an innovation.

Entrepreneurs
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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 i
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4.7 Has telephone design changed over time?

As you can see from Figure 5 the design of the telephone has changed considerably over its lifetime, reflecting the improvements in technology, materials, components and manufacturing processes. Figures 1(a) to (f) show some of the early progress.
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4.6 Was the telephone an immediate success?

By the end of 1876 Bell had managed to build an experimental device that could carry a conversation across 2 miles of wire. The following year the first operational telephone line was erected over the 5 miles between Charles Williams’ factory in Boston and his home in Somerville. It was done there because Bell had conducted some of his experimental work in Williams’ electrical workshops a couple of years earlier. These first telephones were still fairly crude devices and arranged in pairs
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4.3 Who invented the telephone?

The popular image of Bell inventing the telephone, while it has some truth, is by no means the whole story. The two most significant players in the invention of a practical working telephone were Bell and Elisha Gray.

Gray was the co-owner and chief scientist of a company that manufactured telegraphic equipment. Bell's patent description had sound transmission as a minor purpose. But Gray's caveat declared that the main purpose of his device was ‘to transmit the tones of the human voi
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2 Part 1: 1 Living with innovation

You can experience this free course as it was originally designed on OpenLearn, the home of free learning from The Open University: Author(s): The Open University

1 Part 1 Investigating the innovation process

You can experience this free course as it was originally designed on OpenLearn, the home of free learning from The Open University: Author(s): The Open University

Learning outcomes

After studying this course, 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, entrepre
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References

Bignell, V. and Fortune, J. (1984) Understanding Systems Failures, Manchester, Manchester University Press.
Buzan, A. (1974) Use Your Head, London, BBC Publications.
Checkland, P. (1981) Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, London, Wiley.
Fisher, W. and Hudson, J. (1997) Using diagrams – a diagram , unpubli
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Conclusion

This free course, Systems diagramming, provided an introduction to studying Computing & IT. It took you through a series of exercises designed to develop your approach to study and learning at a distance, and helped to improve your confidence as an independent learner.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 1 study in Author(s): The Open University

4.2 Diagrams for understanding

Diagrams for understanding are best developed within the creativity phase, though sometimes you can go straight on to using a diagram more suitable to the connectivity phase. Most diagrams for understanding begin at the centre of the sheet of paper and work outwards. Buzan's (1974) spray diagram is built up from an initial idea with its branches; these branches have their own branches and so on until you reach the detail at the end of each twig. This technique is particularly useful fo
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4.1 Systems diagrams and diagrams helpful for systems work

Diagrams are used extensively in systems thinking and practice. All of those types included in the animated tutorial, as well as other types not covered there, can or have been used in systems studies. As mentioned at the beginning of the course the use of diagrams is very personal. For instance I find it helpful to group diagrams into three sorts depending o
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3.9 Key points

Diagrams can be helpful in:

  • understanding a situation;

  • analysing a situation;

  • communicating with others about that analysis;

  • planning to deal with a situation, both logically and creatively; and

  • implementing, monitoring and evaluating those plans.

They are therefore used at different times and in different ways within the same investigation and many investigative meth
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3.7 Working with other people's diagrams – reading diagrams

Reading diagrams is an equally useful skill to that of drawing diagrams. Not only does it help you understand what other people are trying to convey, it also helps you be critical of the diagrams you draw yourself. In some cases diagrams are used to make the text look pretty or appealing and do not add to the understanding of the reader (hopefully not the case with the diagrams here!). Even when they are used more effectively there is a need to be critical of what information is being conveye
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3 Why do people use diagrams?

Influences on how we perceive diagrams

A few people find diagrams unhelpful; but many people who regularly use words find the discipline of conveying ideas in diagrammatic form both sharpens their understanding of the ideas and opens their eyes to alternative views. Diagrams are, like words, intensely personal ways of sharing information and seeing someone else's ideas in diagrammatic form can give a new view of what they are trying to communicate. Diagrams can also suggest new a
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2.3 Structure and process

Diagrams are normally intended to describe either structure or process and not both. Table 1 gives a classification of diagram types by structure or process. Another way to view this is to note that there are diagram types that represent largely static relationships and those that represent situa
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2.2 Features of diagrams

As there is variety in the types of diagrams we can see and use we need to think more broadly about what diagrams are trying to represent. One distinction which follows on from the discussion above is:

  • Analogue representations: these diagrams look similar to the object or objects they portray. At their simplest they are photographs of real objects and at their most complicated they are colourful, fully labelled drawings of the inner workings o
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2.1 Diagrams as models

Diagrams come in many forms and uses, but for systems thinking and practice it is useful to think of them as models (meaning ‘representations of reality’ in everyday usage). The term ‘model’ is used in a variety of contexts, even when there is a more commonly used term especially appropriate to its own context: models of terrain are usually called ‘maps’; models of electrical components wired together are usually called ‘circuit diagrams’; and models of the configuratio
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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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