In my previous post I promised to introduce Rapidinnovation — a school of practice on innovation, which exists but not made know to the world so far. I feel the time has come to reveal this school of practice.

For the last 31 years I have been solving problems in engineering and manufacturing industries. Though it wasn’t exactly the profession I started out with but over time the love for solving problems snowballed into an insatiable passion. Soon the passion overflowed and spread to almost all areas of various types of manufacturing industries working on a variety of difficult, wicked and seemingly unsolvable problems.

Unique solutions were found that gave stakeholders benefits year on year. But there was something that was odd. The way the problems were solved did not match any of the existing methods and so called processes of problem solving and innovation. It did not follow BPR (Business Process Reengineering) techniques. Neither did it use Six Sigma or TQM (Total Quality Management) tools. Nor did it apply tools of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) or TOC (Theory of Constraints). Neither did it completely resemble Systems Thinking or Design Thinking nor did it completely follow the traditional lines of CBM (Condition Based Maintenance) and RCM (Reliability Centered Maintenance) for addressing or solving machinery failures and problems. 

Soon, I understood that there was something unique in my Rapidinnovation practice, something “unnamed”. It is definitely working in some way to which I could not put my finger upon for a long time. But the point was it was giving nothing less than outstanding results all the time. My teacher and mentor Prof Henry then named it Rapidinnovation, where the acronym stood for Reliability Availability and Performance Improvement through Design Innovation (Rapidinnovation).

That more or less defined the purpose and the approach in broad brush strokes. The purpose of innovation was clear. Any product of innovation, whether soft or hard must be reliable for the intended purpose (must not fail while working), must be available to perform for the desired time and also provide the desired Performance (for example, protect ecology, ensure safety, ensure value, alleviate sufferings, improve productivity etc..). And the approach to achieve the objectives would be through Design Innovation or Design Thinking

The area of application was also clear, which is as follows:

Innovations must be based on the ‘NOW‘ (N). Innovation must be based on ‘Present Failures‘ (F). Innovation must solve some ‘Present Problems‘ (P). And NFP innovations must be guided and informed by reality. Otherwise it is mere distorted thinking or imagination to cover some unreal risks.

Looking more closely, I soon realized that it is different to all other schools of thinking on innovation. The difference was that while other schools insisted on specific tool set, techniques, processes Rapidinnovation was based on a few principles. The other important difference was stress on human understanding. While other schools of thought grossly ignore this aspect of development of human understanding which is the corner stone of Rapidinnovation approach.

To summarize, the important issues of Rapidinnovation are:

1. It is based on the basic premise of ‘interconnected’ and ‘interdependent’ whole.

2. It is based on a few principles of “becoming”, “flow”, “balance” and “change of states”.

3. It is based on the development of human understanding rooted in ‘non-fear’ rather than heavy use of tools and techniques

However, it does not do away with domain knowledge expertise though at the same time it urges one to do away with firmly held notions, ideas and pet theories, which when often repeated exhibit hidden fears rather than confidence to make sense of reality, so essential to problem solving and innovation. In brief, it strongly discourages Fear Induced Innovation (FII).

There is another thing. Innovation is not only about ‘exploration’ that seeks new perspectives and ways. After an innovation is designed, implementing and putting it to proper use is ‘exploitation’. Exploitation is doing routine things efficiently whereas ‘exploration’ forces us to think differently. So the two parts of innovation are ‘Exploration‘ and ‘Exploitation‘. For balance, both are equally needed. One can’t be separated from the other.

Since we need both Exploration and Exploitation we need both the skills of the left and the right brains. We need to think in both parts and the whole. We need explore as well as exploit. We need to be effective as well as efficient. 

Clearly we have now come to the ”inclusive” age not the age of excluding this or that or trading this for that or insisting on ‘one true way’ or exhibiting ‘holier than thou attitudes’. It is therefore time to get free of jargons and sound bites (efforts to create sort of myriad ‘self identities’) of all sorts and focus on what needs to be done to get inclusive results that help many. This is because Ideas and concepts of ‘exclusion’ do not resonate deep within and stir the human soul to do what it was always meant to do — create and adapt.

And following the trends towards increasing openness and collaborative efforts Rapidinnovation conveys ‘Openness‘ that allow people to create their own approaches, tools and techniques within the given principles of understanding the dynamics of Nature and Life. Weighing it down by any dogmas, insisting on specific tools and techniques would be not only unfortunate and counterproductive but also disastrous. It must remain open to reality and must remain contextually relevant to the time of application helping people solve their problems both personal and professional by their own ‘free will‘ within the given contextual constraints of apparent ‘determinism‘ aiming at balancing the dynamic paradox of the opposites. 



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