Levels of Innovation Section: OLL 3
The purpose of the learning is for you to develop your own learning. There are a number of tasks that you should complete before you undertake the next section. You can work through this section at your own pace. It is expected that you would take up to 3 hours to complete this section. You must complete this section before you move to the next section.
Open the presentation “Processes of Innovation” and listen to the commentary. You should take some notes. Then answer the question in your workbook.
Read the article “Looking for Innovative Solutions ” then answer the question in your workbook
Looking for Innovative Solutions
We are at the stage where we start to pull together various elements that we have covered so far. Looking for innovative solutions to problems requires engagement of a variety of concepts. By understand the concepts we looked at like knowledge push/need pull, pattern recognition and TRIZ it becomes much easier to find solutions.
Sources of solutions are all around you. This was discussed in Unit 2 OLL 3 when we looked at TRIZ; Altshuller noted that over 70% solutions to problems can be found in solutions to previous problems. This means that most of the solutions to every day businesses are all around us. In this task we will look at a number of possible areas that you would find solutions.
We have explained in an earlier unit how “need push” often led to innovations. The shortage of rubber during the First World War enabled wider discoveries around the properties of plastic. Had that shortage not occurred that it is unlikely that plastic would be as wide spread as it is today. Crisis drives people to look for solutions in areas that they may not normally look. It is often a crisis that triggers the search. By looking at how others have responded to crisis similar to yours there is a strong chance that you can find a solution.
Your competitor’s advertisements may not seem like the place to find a solution to your problems, but when you think about it your competitors have face similar problems to you and may well have found solutions that you have not yet discovered. An example could be that that you are looking for ways to attract a wider range of customers. You competitor may have already discovered a particular group to target and this would be evident in an advertisement. Your competitor may have identified a benefit that their product brings to a new group of customers and this is the focus of their advertisements. The same benefit would also attract new customers to your business.
Many people with small businesses are reluctant to spy on their competitors. However, unless you gather information about your competitors it is virtually impossible to know what they are up to. A small independent retailer faced fierce competition from two franchise businesses. All three sold identical products and there was no advantage to be gained by changing the products. By visiting both competitors the independent retailer was able to identify that customer service in both franchises was very poor. The independent retailer was able to differentiate their business by introducing a higher quality service.
Many solutions to problems emerge accidently. The most widely known is Post-it notes. Yet there are so many more examples. Viagra started off as a drug for angina and one of its side effects were to improve the sexual function for males and females, the colour mauve never existed until a chemist trying to find a cure for malaria accidently created the colour mauve. Pacemakers that regulate peoples heart beats was invented when a scientist accidently connected the wrong resistor in an instrument designed to record the sound of heart beats. By being curious about what is going on around you and a little pattern recognition could help you discover something that was intended for a purpose different to the one you use the product for. Another example on a much small scale was when a flower arranger transporting their arrangements regularly had 25% of their product damaged in transit. They tried building a wooden and metal racking system. While it reduces damage it also reduced space, which meant far fewer arrangements could be carried. The solution was found in the business owners’ garden. They found a roll of deer fencing when clearing some scrub to extend the area for growing flowers. The deer fencing was perfect; it was light, took up very little space and was able to take the different sizes of the arrangements without modification.
Changes to Regulations and Rules
Many people see changes to rules and regulations as obstacles to growing your business. However, they can also be sources of innovative solutions to problems. A manufacturer in Viet Nam use to make machine parts from a hard high impact resistant plastic. The market for these products was very limited. However, they were able to move into motorcycle helmet manufacturing was able to expand their product range when it became compulsory for everyone to wear helmets when riding motorbikes. The business went from producing no helmets to producing over 2 million helmets a year.
For many businesses customers are seen only as a source of income. Yet of all the places to find solutions to problems your customers are the most likely source. Many business owners do not realise that quite a few of their customers know as much about the business as the owner. In a small shopping area there is four fish shops selling fresh fish. One of the retailers in order to differentiate themselves decided to buy a much broader variety of fish, some of it more expensive than normal. Customers began asking about the different types of fish, particularly how to cook the fish. However, the owner was unable to answer their questions and the sales of the new varieties of fish never took off. Then one day the owner overheard a customer talking to a second customer and explaining how they might cook the new variety of fish. The second customer bought the fish. The owner spoke to the first customer and discovered that they were once a chef. The owner of the fish shop got the first customer to explain to the staff of the fish shop how to cook the new varieties of fish and write some recipe cards which they gave to customers who bought the new varieties of fish. The business expanded not only with customers buying the new and often more expensive fish, but also began to attract new customers.
All of these sources tend not to run in isolation from each other but are interlinked quite strongly. For example a crisis might trigger a conversation with customers. Or changes to the regulations or rules may trigger a crisis and in looking for a solution you accidently discover a solution for another problem.
You should now answer the question in your workbook
Open the presentation “Valuing Innovative Solutions ” and listen to the commentary. You should take some notes.
Read the article “Case Study OLL 3 ” then answer the question in your workbook
Case Study OLL 3
This case study was first introduced in the SDL1 for this Unit. It applies the concepts in this task and will continue to be part of the next few tasks.
You run a small online business selling small items that fit in an envelope. Previous you ran your business from a large garage in your garden. Each you would print the orders on separate sheets. The taking one order at a time you would collect the items from the shelf place them in an envelope before sealing the envelope and placing the item in the postal collection box. It took no more than 2 minutes to complete the order.
However, your business has grown and you now run your business from a large warehouse. You still print each order on separate sheets but due to the size of the warehouse it now takes 3 minutes and 30 seconds to complete each order separately. This additional 1 minute and 30 seconds means that over 15% of orders are going out a day late and you cannot catch up. Customer complaints are beginning to affect your rating online.
The ideas ranged from employing extra staff, putting popular products close to the front of the warehouse, introduce a catalogue system so staff knows exactly where products are, baskets or trolleys to collect items, changing the delivery times, prepacking items and many others.
Type of Need
This is an everyday problem that requires a specific solution.
Importance of need
Extremely high, this sort of business is reliant on high levels of customer satisfaction, price differentiation is almost impossible to achieve as online retailing is very transparent. If the rating drops below 93% of 4.5 stars then sales will drop.
Cause of need
The need was caused by the relocation to larger premises. While moving meant the number of products sold could double, it also created several logistic problems this being the main one. We used the 5 whys tool.
There were three parameters, one was cost. Moving the business had used up the cash reserves and until sales increased through more products there were no funds to spend. The second parameter was time, the solution had to be found and applied within two days. The last parameter was that the solutions had to be viable at least until sales and therefore profits reach a level that cash reserves were replenished and there was enough to consider alternative solutions.
Several solutions were considered and tested. In the end the most cost effective solution was to purchase 3 supermarket shopping trolleys. They worked for a number of reasons. Firstly was size, although most products sold are quite small once they are in the envelopes they are quite bulky. The shopping trolley was able to take more filled envelopes than a staff member could carry, and when the trolley was full it was still relatively light enough to push back to the despatch area. The child seat was ideal to hold the empty envelopes and the order lists in an orderly way. The trolleys were robust and quite cheap.
Using the 5 factors presented on valuing a solution read the case study and consider how the solution could be analysed in terms of the value to the business. You need to answer the question in your workbook.
Open the presentation “Organising your business to be innovative ” and listen to the commentary. You should take some notes. Then answer the question in your workbook.
Open and read the article “Time Poor ”. You should take some notes. Then answer the question in your workbook.
Open the presentation “Resistance by Customers ” and listen to the commentary. You should take some notes. Then answer the question in your workbook.
You should undertake further reading on the topics in this section. We recommend that you read the following:
Dismukes, J., Bers, J. and Sekhar, J. (2012), Towards a Holistic Six-period Radical Innovation Life Cycle Model, International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management, 9:1, p1-27
Michanek, J. & Breiler, A. (2014) The Idea Agent, The Handbook on Creative Processes, New York: Routledge
Miron, E., Erez, M. & Naveh, E. (2004), Do personal characteristics and cultural values that promote innovation, quality, and efficiency compete or complement each other? Journal of Organisational Behavior, 25:1, p175 – 199
Nightingale, P. (1998), A Cognitive Model of Innovation, Research Policy, 27:7, p689 – 709
The next section is Unit 3 SDL 2
Introduction to the module
Welcome to this module on innovation. The module is designed to be used either individually or within a classroom setting. The module takes a non-technical approach to innovation and looks at setting innovation within small every day businesses. It explains what innovation and isn’t and how you can develop your skills and abilities to become better business owners. You will find the module will challenge your thinking around innovation in preparation for either starting your own business or developing an existing one.
This module can be used as a standalone module on innovation or as part of the Student Business e-Academy programme on Business start-up.
Download here related workbooks before starting the course:
All workbooks in this course please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org (MDX students), email@example.com (UMA students) or firstname.lastname@example.org (UNIST students), upon finishing the assignments.
Dr. Simon Best is a Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University, with interests in micro and small business start-up and development. Simon’s first career was 15 years as a chef; this was followed by two years as a Market Researcher and then 28 years as self-employed business owner. During his time as a business owner, Simon started businesses in Australia, Papua New Guinea, India and Viet Nam. Simon has extensive networks across many countries. Currently Simon leads the Enterprise development hub – EDH@MDX as well as lecturing in Entrepreneurship and small business development.
For discussion and course related questions visit the FORUM.
- Lectures 20
- Quizzes 11
- Duration 60 hours
- Skill level All levels
- Language English
- Students 75
- Assessments Self
UNIT 1. What is innovation?
- Lecture 1.1 What is innovation? Section: OLL 1
- Quiz 1.1 Quick Quiz U1OLL1
- Lecture 1.2 What is Innovation? Section: OLL2
- Quiz 1.2 Quick Quiz U1OLL2
- Lecture 1.3 What is Innovation? Section: SDL 1
- Lecture 1.4 What is innovation? Section: OLL3
- Quiz 1.3 Quick Quiz U1OLL3
- Lecture 1.5 What is innovation? Section: SDL2
UNIT 2. Acting innovatively
- Lecture 2.1 Acting Innovatively Section: OLL1
- Quiz 2.1 Quick Quiz U2OLL1
- Lecture 2.2 Acting Innovatively Section: OLL2
- Quiz 2.2 Quick Quiz U2OLL2
- Lecture 2.3 Acting innovatively Section: SDL 1
- Lecture 2.4 Acting Innovatively Section: OLL3
- Quiz 2.3 Quick Quiz U2OLL3
- Lecture 2.5 Acting Innovatively Section: SDL 2
UNIT 3. Levels of innovation
- Lecture 3.1 Levels of Innovation Section: OLL 1
- Quiz 3.1 Quick Quiz U3OLL1
- Lecture 3.2 Levels of Innovation Section: OLL 2
- Quiz 3.2 Quick Quiz U3OLL2
- Lecture 3.3 Levels of Innovation Section: SDL 1
- Lecture 3.4 Levels of Innovation Section: OLL 3
- Quiz 3.3 Quick Quiz U3 OLL3
- Lecture 3.5 Levels of Innovation Section: SDL 2
UNIT 4. Managing innovation
- Lecture 4.1 Managing Innovation Section: OLL 1
- Quiz 4.1 Quick Quiz Unit 4 OLL 1
- Lecture 4.2 Managing Innovation Section: OLL 2
- Lecture 4.3 Managing Innovation Section: SDL 1
- Lecture 4.4 Managing Innovation Section: OLL 3
- Quiz 4.2 Quick Quiz Unit 4 OLL 3
- Lecture 4.5 Managing Innovation Section: SDL 2