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2.2.1 Define invention and innovation.

The process of discovering a principle. A technical advance in a particular field often resulting in a novel product.
The business of putting an invention in the marketplace and making it a success.

Some inventions:

Read these:

Not all companies that come up with great inventions are good innovators, take Xerox's PARC research centre for example, they invented personal computers and the GUI interface long before Apple Inc. In fact Apple bought the GUI from them and made into what it is today! The Xerox star.

Look up two inventions (not innovations) and write a paragraph about why and how they changed our world.

Look up two innovations (not inventions) and write a paragraph about why and how they changed our world.

2.2.2 Outline the stages of innovation.

Developing an idea into a viable product; its production; marketing and sales; followed by redesign; and the cycle or spiral continues.

"There are millions of ideas around the world at any time. Some of them have the potential to be viable; more have the potential to be viable but do not have the people behind them who can make it happen. So an idea has to be developed before it becomes an innovation."

"The first stage of the innovation process is the development of an idea into a concept that has the demonstrated potential to be commercially feasible. The idea must be fleshed out to the point where technical, financial and management considerations have been incorporated into the concept, so that the practical application of the concept can be clearly plotted."

The second stage is the production, where the product is manufactured or manufacturing begins.

The Third stage is marketing and sales, "a primary activity associated with pre-sales tasks. Activities within marketing and sales often include: sales management; selling; market research activities; technical literature development (such as user guides and brochures); customer focus groups; convention activities, and more."

The fourth stage is redesign: reasons for .... develop products that better meet customer needs, make it easier to manufacture, availability and cost of materials, improve safety, more user friendly, shelf or product life, improve properties, changing or different markets, distribution - packaging, weight, green design and clean technologies and recycling issues

Finally, once the product/concept has gone through redesign the cycle/spiral begins all over again until the product becomes mature or obsolete.

2.2.3 Discuss the importance of science to invention and innovation.

Science explains how the world is.

The importance of science to invention and innovation is evidently unquestionable. Most delelopments we produce in the field of Design are attributed to scientific breakthroughs, which in turn allow the designer to produce these advancements. Science is a vital aspect of any design project taking place within a classroom, to NIKE shoe factories. It is the aspect that allows us designers to distinguish between the better materials, shapes, sizes and various other factors that come to consideration when we come to developing a project.

2.2.4 Discuss the importance of technology to invention and innovation.

Technology uncovers new possibilities for materials, manufacturing techniques and processes.

Advances in technology aids invention and innovation which leads to new or cheaper products through advances in materials, manufacturing techniques, and processes. Moreover, the advance in technology improves product quality. The Internet and mobile phone are emerging communication technologies which were non-existent thirty years ago. Due to the increased scientific research, there has been an exponential increase in the advancement of technology recently.

  • The IDE group looks at science and technology in innovation.
  • 2004 top picks for innovation and technology.

2.2.5 Explain why the majority of inventions fail to become innovations.

Consider marketability, financial support, marketing, the need for the invention, price, resistance to change, and aversion to risk.

the Apple Newton, a precursor to the iPad, lasted a short time on the market


  • Low product demand or not readily saleable

Financial support

  • There is little monetary backing from the organisation or an outsider.
  • The invention would need more sponsors to financially aid the product.


  • Is the process of getting products from the producer or vendor to the consumer or buyer, which includes advertising, shipping, storing, and selling. Poor marketing strategies or wrong target markets.
  • Invention would need to be advertised as a product the public would want.
  • Trends in innovation.

The need for the invention

  • Examples include alternative energy resources to combat our insatiable need for oil however if oil prices are low or there is a ready supply of oil then the alternative energy invention will not take hold.


  • Affordable, cost effectiveness or value for money ... therefore it may be too expensive to purchase, or to manufacture and the consumer may not see it worth its cost compared to its use.
  • Keep in mind, the product's price needs to be equivalent to the income of the specific age group that would buy the majority of the product.

Resistance to change

  • People and organisations can be resistant and reluctant to change, feeling comfort and security in the familiar thus resist new ideas/products.

Aversion to risk

  • "Risk aversion is a concept in economics, finance, and psychology related to the behaviour of consumers and investors under uncertainty". ( 2007)

Being successful at innovation ...

  • Top ten reasons for failure from Think smart.
  • Article from Innovation tools
What is innovation - from the experts.

2.2.6 Explain the relevance of design to innovation.

For continued innovations (re-innovation), products and processes are constantly updated (redesigned) to make them more commercially viable and to give consumers choice and improved products.
iPhone generations

Design is vital to innovation due to innovation being the key to developing products and services. Design-led innovation allows the organisation to focus on the customer as a strategy for development and a collaborator in mutual service innovation.

By pertaining design-led innovation to both the organisations and the services the business provides, the firm accommodates change, thus becoming consumer-oriented in a well-organised, active, and successful way. As the UK Minister for Innovation Ian Pearson stated “The contribution of design to innovation hasn’t been emphasised enough until now, but user-led innovation always clearly demonstrated the importance of design in developing new products, processes, and new ways of working.”

2.2.7 Define dominant design, diffusion into the marketplace, market pull and technology push.

Dominant design
The design contains those implicit features of a product that are recognized as essential by a majority of manufacturers and purchasers.
Diffusion into the marketplace
The wide acceptance (and sale) of a product.
Market pull
The initial impetus for the development of a new product is generated by a demand from the market.
Technology push
Where the impetus for a new design emanates from a technological development.

2.2.8 Describe a design context where dominant design is relevant.

For example, ballpoint pen (Biro), Apple® iPod®, Coca-Cola®.

Dominant Design:

It is a concept identifying key features in designs that become a traditional standard in the market place. Dominant designs don't necessarily have to be better than other designs found on the market, however they will provide a minimum required set of important and basic features. Definition of dominant designs according to Webster's Dictionary: A standard, which becomes generally accepted after a period of rapid technological change


The “QWERTY” keyboard layout was specifically designed (to make people inefficient)to replace the flaws of the mechanical typewriter by changing the order of the letters on the keyboard. Now it is recognised as well used worldwide and preferred over the more logical and formal keyboard layouts. By the way, did you know that you can type faster one handed than on a QWERTY keyboard.

In the table are other examples of a dominant design:

Identify two design contexts where dominant design is evident ... describe how that is the case.

2.2.9 Explain the difficulties of getting a product to diffuse into the marketplace.

Consider local, national and global competition. The problems of getting novel products to market include product launches and marketing.

Mindtools on the stages of diffusion into the market.

Local, national and global competition.

  • Competitors will put pressure on novel products entering the market. If competitors already exist, marketing strategies will need to be developed to make your product popular. Product launches need to be well thought out in order to have consumers interested as quickly as possible.
  • Also, if your product is new and there is no other like it, people (customers) will still be spending money with your competitors until they are led otherwise.
  • Access to cheap labor from other countries (China or India) could mean your competitors maybe producing the product cheaper than you and therefore making things more difficult for your product to sell, because of price issues.
  • In America, taxes differentiate by state which may cause difficulties or place price pressures on your product.

Product Launch

  • Today's Launch Hurdles: Schneider reveals little-understood demographic trends, alterations in the media and retail landscapes, and changes in consumer behaviour that are making it more challenging to reach consumers with an effective launch message.

Marketing is the process of promoting and selling products. Marketing includes advertising, distribution and selling of a product.

  • "You’ll need to approach different groups with different marketing messages if you’re to sell effectively to them. In fact, your whole marketing approach (including pricing) may need to change if you’re going to get the next group to adopt your product." (Mindtools 2007).
  • If it is just an upgrade from another product- the escalation in price is limited, people will not be willing to pay so much for a new product if the only change is a minor update
  • Always remember: buyers will pay a respectable sum if the product is exciting and the 'it' thing to have.
  • For companies to be able to continue innovating you need strategy and the correct environment: Kodak is one of the companies that are good innovators “they give people the freedom to follow their own ideas and take some risk”

For a company to be completely innovative, they need to inspire the staff; the ability to create innovative products; and the ability to connect with the market.

2.2.10 Explain why it is difficult to determine whether market pull or technology push is the impetus for the design of new products.

Push and pull are present in most successful innovations. The explanation should apply only to the origin of the idea or where the idea seems to have been generated.

© Chappatte - - "Here comes the iPad"

Scientific innovation has two different paths:

  • The demand driven, “Market Pull” method.
  • The supply driven, “Technology Push” method.
  • They differ because of how they manage and organize resources.

“Technology” Push approaches:

  • Typified by programs, but not necessarily software programs
  • Internal development comes up with a patent or a technological device to fulfill the need of a customer
  • Has high market related risk because application is not known
  • Has low technology related risk because application is known
  • Innovation is created, then appropriate applications are sought to fit the innovation
  • Did the market ask "please give me an iPod with download store" or a camera phone? Most likely not; so this would be a technology push,.

“Market” Pull approaches:

  • Implemented on platforms
  • Platforms are open ended and can evolve based on changing needs
  • Has low market related risk because application is known
  • Has low technology related risk because solution is not known
  • When the market asks for better safety features in a car then this would be market pull.

Technology risk is how uncertain we are about finding a solution. Market risk is how uncertain we are about finding an application.

Technology advances often occur some time before the market knows about them. So when the new products with the new tech hits the market, the line between market pull vs. technology push is blurred.

2.2.11 Define lone inventor.

Lone inventor
An individual working outside or inside an organization who is committed to the invention of a novel product and often becomes isolated because he or she is engrossed with ideas that imply change and are resisted by others.

Leonardo da Vinci

Lone inventors:

  • Individuals with a goal of the complete invention of a new and somewhat revolutionary product.
  • Have ideas that are completely new and different.
  • May not comprehend or give sufficient care to the marketing and sales of there product.
  • Are usually isolated, and have no backing towards their design.
  • Are having a harder time to push forward their designs, especially in a market where large investments are required for success.
  • Their ideas, because of how different they are are often resisted by other employees and workers.
  • The last lone inventor, the television.

Famous Inventors:

2.2.12 Discuss why it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a successful lone inventor.

Most products are now extremely complex and rely on expertise from various disciplines. Most designs are developed by multidisciplinary teams.
  • Modern Products such as smart-phones, printer/scanners are very complex.
  • Requires knowledge from many disciplines.
  • It would be unlikely that a lone inventor would have the expertise in all the disciplines.
  • Most modern day designs are developed in multidisciplinary teams

Locate a modern day product and identify the disciplines involved.

2.2.13 Explain why lone inventors often find it difficult to work in the design departments of large companies.

They are often used to setting their own targets rather than working as members of teams. They can be dogmatic in their methodology and less flexible than team workers.
  • Lone inventors work alone and are use to setting their own goals.
  • Don't work in teams usually so team goals may prove difficult to adhere to.
  • Most likely be dogmatic which is less conducive to team work
  • Are not flexible.

2.2.14 Define product champion.

Product champion
An influential individual, usually working within an organization, who develops an enthusiasm for a particular idea or invention and “champions” it within that organization.

A person who takes an excessive interest in seeing that a particular process or product is fully developed and marketed A product champion can bring both expertise and enthusiasm to the project. (In small business environments, this product champion will often be the entrepreneur/owner himself.) A strong product champion will be able to balance all the issues associated with a product—economic factors, performance requirements, regulatory issues, management issues, and more—and create a winning new product. The product champion also has to guide the project through a predetermined series of viability tests—checkpoints in the development process at which a company evaluates a new product to determine if the product should proceed to the next development stage.

The product champion has to guide the project through a predetermined series of viability tests—checkpoints in the development process at which a company evaluates a new product to determine if the product should proceed to the next development stage. If it is determined that the market has shifted, or technology has changed, or the project has become too expensive, then the product must be killed, no matter how much money has already been poured into it. This is where a strong product champion makes the difference—he or she has to have the honesty and authority to make the call to kill the product and convey the reasons for that decision to the product development team. If goals were clearly defined, resources properly allocated, and leadership was strong, then the decision to kill a project should not be a difficult one.

-Business World

Profile of a Product Champion

  • Knows the customers—all of them
  • Is not too close to a single customer
  • Has business experience in the domain
  • Can speak intelligently about the issues
  • Acts as a good facilitator
  • Works and plays well with others
  • Accepts responsibility for the product
  • Defends the team’s ability to produce the product
  • Is willing to make hard decisions about scope
  • Treats the team as knowledgeable professionals
  • Sets reasonable performance expectations
  • Communicates with the team, the customer, management, sales, and marketing
  • Has a willingness to learn—from everyone
  • Doesn't trust everyone; does trust the right people
  • Doesn't think he knows more about the market than he really does
  • Can say “No”
  • Keeps his promises
  • Performs ongoing market analysis

2.2.15 Compare the lone inventor with the product champion.

The lone inventor may lack the business acumen to push the invention through to innovation. The product champion is often a forceful personality with much influence in a company. He or she is more astute at being able to push the idea forward through the various business channels and is often able to consider the merits of the invention more objectively.

2.2.16 Explain why innovators may have difficulty in obtaining financial support for an invention.

Most people with money to invest will be inclined to wait until it is clearer whether an invention is going to be successful before investing: the problem is to get them to take the risk.
  • The investor might not have sufficient understanding of the market therefore can not decide whether or not to invest and rather wait to see if the product will be a success.
  • Investors may determine whether the technology addresses a significant problem in the marketplace, what the competitive alternatives are, and whether the market is large enough to yield a significant return on the investment.
  • investors will have to evaluate the proprietary aspects of the technology, including patent position and ownership; further development work to get to the first product; assess manufacturability; and assess the potential breadth of the technology's application.


Bulleted list and italicised paragraphs are excerpted from Design Technology: guide. Cardiff Wales, UK: International Baccalaureate Organization, 2007.

Images are clickable links to its location.

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Page last modified on September 25, 2013, at 07:34 PM