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Innovation models and preferences
The models below my help you to think about your own practice. For any model to be useful you will need to translate it to your context.
Research and Innovation, at Leeds, are the responsibility of the same Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor David Hogg. As part of his induction presentation to new staff, Professor Hogg uses the following diagram to show the relationship between research and innovation.
This Pathway is related to the idea of Technology Readiness Levels. This idea was originally developed by NASA but is now used by a range of United States government departments (defence, energy, Federal Aviation Authority, etc). There are nine levels and they are briefly described below:
|1||Research begins to be translated into research and development. Basic principles have been observed and reported.|
|2||Practical applications of the basic principles can be identified, invented / innovated. The application is speculative and there is no proof or detailed analysis.|
|3||This level moves into proof of the concept and is a more active R&D phase.|
|4||This level involves integrating the basic elements of the technology to establish if the whole system will work.|
|5||The basic elements of the system are integrated and validated using some simple whole system test scenarios|
|6||The first prototype is produced for more extensive testing in a realistic environment.|
|7||The prototype is tested in a full range of environments to demonstate that it is operationally ready.|
|8||Technology is proven to work and through a full set of tests and demonstrations involving more that one prototype.|
|9||Technology is applied in its final form and is fully proven through successful operation (beyond trials).|
Although this relates to technological innovations, it is worth remembering that research (and therefore universities) tend to operate in the lowest 2 levels. However, companies who take on those innovations tend to begin their interest at levels 4 to 5 – which leads to a gap. Therefore, researchers either need to expand their activities into levels 3 and 4 or convince a company to invest earlier in the process. For a researcher to bridge the gap in either way involves developing new skills.
When you are thinking of how you can develop your skills in this area it is worth taking stock of what skills you have and the preferences you exhibit in the ways you innovate. One way to think about this is via a model developed by the former Head of Innovation Management at SRI International (a not for profit research organisation established by Standford University and a group of Californian industrialists). The model suggests that there are 4 different innovation styles:
- Modifying; this is incrementally refining and optimising previous solutions
- Experimenting; this is combining and testing new unique combinations
- Exploring; discover new and novel possibilities
- Visioning; thinking through the perfect future
Reflection point: When you are faced with a problem in your research which of these 4 innovation styles describes the way you normally try to overcome this problem?
The model uses a self-assessment questionnaire to place your preferences on a chart to show how strongly you prefer using each style. The model suggests that Visioning is opposite to Experimenting and Modifying is opposite to Exploring. Therefore if you have a strong tendency to use Visioning you probably don’t use Experimenting too often etc.
Another way to assess your innovation preferences is via your Myers Briggs type. There are 16 different types made up of your preferences on four dichotomies: Extraversion and Introversion (E or I), Sensing and Intuition (S or N), Thinking and Feeling (T or F) and Judging and Perceiving (J or P). If you don’t know your type SDDU has 3 certified practitioners who can assist you. In relation to innovation it is the 2nd (S or N) and four (J or P) dichotomies that play a role.
In this model there are 4 different types of ideas:
- Efficiency Ideas; finding the most efficient way to do something but not radically changing the process
- Refining Ideas; these ideas tend to focus on getting the same outputs with a better process
- Adopting Ideas; this is the process of looking for new ideas from external sources
- Different Ideas; truly different and new ideas that no one else has thought of or been able to implement. These often involve intellectual property protection.
Looking at the combinations of the two dichotomies:
- people with S and J in their type tend to prefer working with Efficiency ideas
- people with S and P in their type tend to prefer working with Refining ideas
- people with N and J in their type tend to prefer working with Adopting ideas
- people with N and P in their type tend to prefer working with Different ideas
These letter combinations also suggest which area of the Innovation Process you prefer working in. The innovation process has 4 phases; Define the problem, Discover solutions, Decide which solution(s) are worth pursuing, Deliver the solution.
- people with S and P in their type tend to prefer Defining the problem
- people with N and P in their type tend to prefer Discovering possible solutions
- people with N and J in their type tend to prefer Deciding which solution(s) are worth pursuing
- people with S and J in their type tend to prefer Delivering the solution
Reflection point: Given your Myers Briggs type, what sort of ideas are you likely to prefer working with and which part of the process to deliver those ideas could you have a preference for?
Action point: If you notice that you do tend to prefer a certain type of idea and a certain area of the innovation process, what actions could you take to work with other ideas and other parts of the process?
This page is maintained by Dr Ged Hall.
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Last updated 20/01/15