innovation symbol


Innovation

History
Characteristics
It is For Everyone

What Is A Breakthrough?

Dictionary definition of breakthrough:
1) an offensive thrust that penetrates and carries beyond a defensive line in warfare
2) an act or instance of breaking through an obstacle or a breakthrough agreement
3) a sudden advance especially in knowledge or technique like a medical breakthrough or a person’s first notable success like a breakthrough novel

History of Discovery

Despite various studies to determine the right ingredients for breakthroughs, there is the frequent conclusion that these significant events had nothing in common. People have studied this phenomena from the standpoint of very significant innovation to just something that made enough difference and resulted in a very good result.
A review of some of those studies many years ago made a startling discovery. It is startling because it was simple yet never realized as such a valuable finding. Despite being obvious, it is profound. It is like so many things that until the root cause is understood you really cannot find the true solution. If there is one thing characteristic of arriving at a breakthrough it is thinking and by that I mean creative thinking. Now that is obvious and it is missing quite often but that is not the one thing common with all breakthroughs although it is always in the background.
If we believe thinking is just having thoughts, that is a problem because in our case of breakthroughs thinking requires CREATIVE thoughts.
Now, the obvious thing but missing element that breakthroughs have in common is that there is a problem. It is a problem that is not shoved under a rug but held up as a problem and well defined. So, if we want to have a breakthrough besides “thinking” we need a problem.
When you have root cause for achieving breakthroughs you can do something about it. So, what do we do? We will let you think about that for while. It is better if you come to the right conclusion on your own. That is a characteristic of Breakthrough Technology. This will be discussed under the subject of “Distinctions.”
tom Edison

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”Thomas Edison made this statement for a reason and if you look at his life and experiments you will see someone who worked tirelessly and largely learned by extensive trial and error. He was relentless and learned a great deal in the process.
The purpose of this site is to point out the need (especially for American companies) to get into or back into the mode of innovation, of breakthrough technology. The focus is not necessarily to achieve what the world would consider great but just to have the day-to-day American ingenuity that allowed the United States to grow as a democratic, capitalistic country. There are certain sometimes well-meaning but misguided persons/organizations working against such progress. These enemies have different names but include “bad science, greed/selfishness and power hungry people and organizations.” In any case, these are the 10,000 foot things and are hard if not impossible to change. At the ground level are companies that wish to grow and make a difference to all their shareholders and within that group foremost to their employees. Success lies in the having right people, the right tools, and the right attitude.

I have written a short e-book of about 100 pages to help in sorting through this subject of breakthroughs/innovation and it includes the brilliant thinking of some of the best minds in business. It analyzes the thinking of these well known “guru’s” in addition to that of the author and arrives at some powerful conclusions.

Breakthroughs and Teams

Today, breakthroughs generally require team efforts (it is of course obvious that within teams there will be certain individuals that are instrumental to a given breakthrough). The teams define the problem or they should since everything important to a business needs cross-functional input. They work in their respective areas defining the market, the manufacturing/producability and create various target goals, which result in the desired gain or potential profitably. Specific ideation as mentioned may be from the team or it could be from an individual or several individuals. Many programs will consist of a number of breakthroughs before the end result is realized. Some of the required breakthroughs will come from cross-functional teams and setting the stage for that opportunity needs to occur early in a project. A characteristic of these breakthroughs will be great cross-functional communication throughout the program.

Setting the table for innovation

The Long Cold Road Back

This book, mentioned above is not available to the public, but I provide a link to students of the breakthrough course. In the future, given some modest interest, the book will be available at least as an E-book.

The e-book, “The Long Cold Road Back” looks at a nine different business Guru’s who have to various degrees gained noteworthy respectability for their instruction. The list includes W. Edwards Deming, Michael N. Kennedy, Michael Abrashoff, Peter Drucker, Lance Secretan, Colin Powell, Stephen Covey, Jim Collins, and Wess Roberts. This author assumes the position of the tenth guru largely because most of the guru’s lack deep hands-on experience with many of the disciplines they discuss. Although this does not lessen their accuracy in all cases it does explain some of the differences in their conclusions. My hands-on experience can thus help to sort out differences while providing some conclusions in consideration of their differences.
guru ebook cover

Certainly, these persons were targeting somewhat different audiences and problems. Yet, at the core of each is the subject of leadership with an emphasis on growth and continual improvement. They were certainly philosophers and generally pragmatists. Did they have some common themes, common motives and common philosophies? Is there one issue that was seemingly more important than others? Innovation was one thing that was central to growth for all the gurus and of course, is incredibly obvious. Yet few company’s possess this critical ability, instead they are satisfied to gradually make improvements. This book points to how American business must move to higher ground and how they can routinely achieve breakthroughs.

“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”

waldo e

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The problem is well defined, namely build a better mousetrap and there consequently is a wonderful response. Namely, people who have nothing else to do have sat around and invented mousetraps – just like JFK (John F. Kennedy) said we would put a man on the moon within the decade and that drove a great deal of actions and of course, it happened! It does not happen without that statement, without saying it!

The JFK Statement and Ramifications

jfk

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

President John F. Kennedy, May 25, 1961

America was in the space race with the Soviets and although there was this statement, many thought it lunacy. The “folks” in the Space Agency saw the statement as opening the door, a mandate, and very exciting. The end result was that the space program drove a tremendous number of programs, new technologies and ultimately in addition to achieving the goal there were many associated breakthroughs which would sustain American business for decades.
So, one of the keys for breakthroughs has to do with saying it, saying it out loud. Breakthrough Technology is liberating because you gain great understanding of your own potential to innovate.
Breakthroughs are: not just a new design concept, they are:
1) Finishing work on time to a very aggressive schedule, or substantially ahead of time,
2) Building great internal and external (customer, supplier) relationships especially those relationships that were very difficult or have always failed in the past,
3) Much better processes that make important differences and in several categories like cost, functionality, ergonomics
4) A new business model that destroys barriers to new business opportunities, greatly improves time to market and results in great product/service launches
5) Substantially removing product and/or service costs
6) A new technology or product that rejuvenates a company
7) And many, many more things that make a “big difference”


Of course the idea of a breakthrough is something special, something of great value not just an improvement. We need to set goals higher for ourselves and our employees and yet not in any way allow stretch goals to be a negative factor in progress. How do you do that?
Well we might need a breakthrough in managing breakthroughs.

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