May 26, 2009

Changing Dependancies at Greener By Design

I attended the Greener by Design conference in San Francisco last week. The afternoon speaker from the first day, Amnon Levav from SIT International, explained the set of tools his company has developed to come up with new innovative solutions to problems called Systematic Inventive Thinking. SIT's philosphy is that inventive solutions share common patterns, and therefore, these tools help one identify the patterns they are in and other patterns to look at for solutions.

I can best explain how one of SIT's tools, Attribute Dependancy, works by using an example from Tom Szaky of TerraCycle, another presenters at the conference. TerraCycle was created by looking at waste differently. Instead of waste being something you pay someone to take "away", TerraCycle's business plan is to take waste, process it, and turn it into a useful product. TerraCycle changed the dependancy from waste being the end of a process to waste being the beginning of a new process. It changed the way a company relates to waste. Attribute Dependancy is about creating dependance on something that wasn't there before. It is a great tool to get new ideas flowing in your ideation sessions.

May 1, 2009

Collaboration Saves Time and Money

I came across a great article called “Tips for Improving Product Development” in which the author, quoting from a recent report by the Aberdeen Group, explains the top three actions a company can take to better manage the product development process. The three actions are: standardize the process for approving and releasing product designs to manufacturing, centralize access to product design data, and engage all project stakeholders in the change approval process.

I want to focus on the last two actions which, I believe, emerge from organizations that reward collaboration across the product development process. If there is collaboration within an organization, than there
would need to be centralized access to product design data for all teams to access. A true collaborative organization creates multifunctional teams in which at least one member from each product development group would have to be part of the change approval process. By embracing collaboration between all groups in product development an organization will accelerate the product development process, saving precious time and money.