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Mapping the Innovation Space Part Two: Individual Solutions Drives Infinite Disruptive Innovations

by Dr. John Cooney and Barry Winkless Hdip, MSc


This paper expounds the need for a new paradigm for innovation at the problem space. It suggests that innovation needs to move beyond standard practice towards individualistic solutions that exceed consumer expectations.


Innovation as we know it is dead. It needs to move to another dimension in order to create benefit along the value chain. The emphasis has traditionally been placed on a project approach for example concept-plan-quality-make-sell. Furthermore, innovation has largely operated within the “past experiences comfort zone” (c) due to psychological inertia. Moreover, “conformity factors” such as project success, customer, technical and financial performances have become the norm. While the importance of each factor is completely justified, they have enforced competing organisations to introduce product or service offerings for customers that are ‘like but not like’ previous innovations. As a result Innovation is now best fit for “standardization” and rapidly approaching what Peters (2003) calls ‘Sameness’. Here innovation reflects an age where the voice of the customer is seen as the Holy Grail. However, the reality is that the customer is not ‘always right’. In fact many customers are not aware of what they want or indeed what will ‘turn them on’. Consequently there is a need to move beyond both the Kano paradigm of basic, performance and excitement needs and the concepts of WoW.

Evolution of the Customer

Just as art has evolved and developed from a one-dimensional world to a three dimensional cacophony so too has the customer canvas. We cannot any longer look upon markets as segments or categories. Fundamentally it is the 'group solution' and 'group focused innovation' that causes discontent with product offerings. We are moving towards a new paradigm we are moving towards individual solutions, individual innovations. We are moving beyond customization. In essence we are moving towards...

We have arrived at the age of 'Infinite Disruptive Innovation'- where disruptive innovation at the problem space (Figure 1) is not the exception but the reality. Innovation is now more about embracing the standard deviations. The innovation space often lies outside 'the 'past experiences comfort zone'. In essence we are moving from normality to anomaly.

Click here for larger image

Lets link Infinite Design for You and Disruptive Innovation. In effect they can be considered as two sides of the same coin. By designing for the individual we create a personal infinite disruptive innovation. This results in the creation of 'Wham Bam What Was That' (c) innovation solution. for numerous segments-

Design For You

Design For You (DFY) addresses issues in the Problem Space, outside of the 'past experiences comfort zone'. It is important to reiterate that the Problem Space is a need for innovation, a managerial or technical problem-simple or complex, or a perceived need for something to happen. Fundamentally DFY- is comprised of Three elements and it is by creating 'Beyond Excitement- Wham Bam' in each of these elements that we create Infinite Disruptive Innovation in the problem space.

Figure 2: Design For You Elements(c)

Careful manipulation of three elements (Figure 2)- function, design and benefit will allow the organisation to ensure that basic, performance and excitement expectations are met and superceded. Where the solution is individual, where the solution encapsulates Design For You principles.


Mapping the innovation space requires a different perspective and a different mindset. By focusing on the individual we can create Infinite Disruptive Innovations and we move towards a Design For You paradigm.


Peters, Tom (2003) 'Re-imagine- Business Excellence in a disruptive age', Publishers: DK
Winkless, B and Cooney, J (2004) 'Mapping the Innovation Space One: Novel Tools for Problem Definition in Product Innovation', July 2004, Triz Journal.

Copyright Winkless B, J & Cooney, J, M

This article originally appeared in the TRIZ Journal. Dr. John Cooney is an expert in Systems management and innovative management practices. He is published extensively in this area and has also presented at international conferences on systems approaches and innovative management approaches. Barry Winkless is an expert in Triz innovation methods, as well as in Kano, QFD and DOE. He has worked on numerous innovation projects. He has published extensively, and has also presented at a number of international conferences. He is a memeber of the Global Coordination Group of ETRIA- the European Triz Innovation Association.

The authors currently work for Altran Technologies Ireland. They are currently completing a book titled 'Design For You- Mapping the space for infinite disruptive innovation', which will be published in November 2004.

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