The process of innovation has many stages. Many will say that the first steps consist of recognizing a need for change and brainstorming on new ways to make those changes happen. Followed by continuous observation and prototyping. Prototyping is essential to testing out ideas after brainstorming. It allows the group to visualize the idea more concretely before constructing the invention. This is the stage where changes can be made that include more physical and rational reasoning. There are many ways a prototype can be executed. More commonly is through drawings, computer software, or physical 3-d form.
The key to these first couple of stages are the people involved in the process and the environment that houses such ideas. As discussed last week, teamwork is essential to the brainstorming process. However, in order to maximize the innovation efforts, the environment has to be right. Thomas Kelley, in The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm,calls this the “Greenhouse” effect (Kelley, page 129). He states that a greenhouse for innovation is “a place where the elements are just right to foster the growth of good ideas. Where there’s heat, light, moisture, and plenty of nurturing. The greenhouse we’re talking about, of course, is the workplace, the way spaces take shape in offices and teams work together” (Kelley, page 129). He gives many examples of how different companies can foster a working area that gives way to great innovation, but there are a few aspects that is most common in any industry.
One aspect of creating a work area that is conducive to producing innovative ideas is considering the layout of the workspace. Keeping in mind, that teamwork is essential to the innovation process, having a space that will allow teams to gather is important. Some examples of team friendly workspaces are layouts that have a central location that makes it easy for team members to congregate. Also, position offices and cubicles in a matter that will allow team members to easily join one another while maintaining personal space in situations where focus and concentration is needed. Lastly, remember that diversity is needed as many different perspectives are necessary, allowing different departments to easily access one another is just as important.
Finally, providing work spaces that fosters creativity and functionality can help with the prototyping stage of innovation. Kelley suggests that the workspace should be simple, movable, and buildable (Kelley, 2016). He gives examples of where he used blocks, that were used for sitting and partitions, as pieces in a prototype for elevators for the company Otis (Kelley page 135). Using things that are easily accessible is common in the prototyping stage. Furnishing the workspace with things that can be used multi-functionally can drastically help in the innovation process.
All in all, many steps are needed to facilitate a great practical idea. In order to generate the best ideas, the environment has to be one that is effective for team building, creativity and functionality. Kelley states that “being innovative and successful is more than hiring the right people and buying the best technology. You’ve got to create a culture where space matters (Kelley, page 153).
Kelley, Thomas and Littman, Johnathon (2016). The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm. Published by Doubleday Broadway Publishing