Directed Open Innovation

Phase 1a:Problem Analysis In the CoCatalyst Directed Open Innovation process there are 3 main steps which combine to deliver a deep and rigorous Problem Analysis and 3 further steps supporting Solution Identification. The activity plan for the first 3 steps is as follows:

1. Situation Analysis:
The key requirements of the project are understood, the scope of the project is agreed and solution screening criteria are determined. The functionality of the target system is described in broad terms and the overall problem situation is outlined.

2. Problem Mapping:
Depending on the system definition and scoping in step 1, the functionality of the system is mapped and sub-divided. Most technical systems are hierarchical, that is, a typical system will be made up of sub-system components and will also operate within a “super-system”. For technical systems or processes the focus is on the functional interactions between elements of system; for consumer products, the functional interactions of the system with the consumer may also be of interest. Each functional component of the system is reviewed to understand how that part of the system contributes to the overall problem. At the end of this step, a list of sub-problems is recorded, including, potentially, some sub-problems which have previously not been recognised as such. These sub-problems represent potentially new insights about the true nature of the innovation task.

3. Conflict Formulation:
A more detailed functional action map for the system is prepared which highlights the physical actions taking place within the system. Useful actions, harmful action, insufficient and excessive actions are recorded. Also during this stage, a Cause-Effect map is generated, starting with the sub-problems from step 2 (Problem Mapping) and working down to root problems for each initial sub-problem. The output of this mapping step is a list of conflicts and disadvantages in the system. Once again, during this process many new insights about the true nature of the problem situation will become clear, resulting in previously unrecognised conflict formulations and key disadvantages or limitations of the system under analysis. The insights gained during steps 2 and 3 are used to formulate statements of desired conceptual solution directions.

Phase 1 b:Solution Identification

The second three steps in the CoCatalyst Directed Open Innovation process are structured around Solution Identification and incorporate a technology scouting method known as “Function Oriented Search”. The activity plan for the second 3 steps is as follows:

4. Conflict Resolution:
Depending on the conflicts identified during step 3, certain specific TRIZ tools are used to identify potentially compromise-free solutions and to draw out physical principles, which, if used, could deliver the functionality outlined in the conceptual solution directions, prepared at the end of step 3 . These solutions and physical principles are expressed in generic function terms, enabling easier cross-industry connections to be identified during the next step.

5. Concept Validation:
Using the CoCatalyst network and various literature sources such as research papers and patents, technological embodiments of the required physical principles are discovered. Research is conducted to find how well established these embodiments are and to identify key subject matter expertise (in the form of companies , experts or researchers). Connections are made to industry sectors and research areas where the functionality required to answer the conceptual solution directions identified in step 3 is routinely required and may even be a matter of life or death.

6. Solution Selection:
The technologies and conceptual solutions identified in the previous step are evaluated against the screening criteria and are reviewed in the context of the target client application to uncover the inevitable secondary system conflicts (“yes, buts..”); these are the problems which often stand in the way of the implementation of a new technology into an existing system. A technology short-list is agreed. Concept illustrations are prepared to describe possible preferred combinations of the short-listed technologies and solutions. A project report is prepared to document the problem analysis and solution identification. The report also provides an audit trail tracking from the intial problem situation to the final shortlisted solutions.