Biomimetic file 193: Leapfrogging

How innovation increments management is crucial to keeping a competitive edge

0ce4fd4d779cadcb75369a350b538d20Image source: pinterest.com

Highlight: “To improve the maneuverability and agility of jumping robots, several researchers have studied steerable jumping mechanisms…This steering ability enables robots to reach a particular target by controlling their jumping direction… The key design principles were adopted from the frog-hopper’s power-producing hind legs and the moment cancellation accomplished by synchronized leg operation…”

Insight: Frogs are known for their ability to move by making significant jumps. Unlike many species which would use a more energy saving linear type of motion, frogs focus their energy on a few but distance covering moves to secure their escape from preys.

This type of leaping motion is inspirational and can be applied to business innovation strategies. Indeed, the need to innovate is a constant battle for corporations that need to keep themselves ahead of the competition. There are three possible options: to make regular small improvements to their existing products (the most commonly seen), to make very significant improvements (or even provide a completely new approach) but at less regular intervals or sometimes a mix of the two.

The reality is that true innovations can only come from significant leapfrogging improvements which in terms push others to top-up their games. Game changers are less common and industrial wars through practices such as reverse engineering are all too common leading to the small increments (low innovation) model that we observe in the market place.

Are you planning to release an upgrade? If so, perhaps think of your strategic objective; if the idea is only to keep yourself competitive and follow the flow, than choose the small increments strategy. However, if you intend to be a game changer go towards the leapfrogging alternative. Noteworthy is that revolutionary improvements are also associated with a significantly higher risk factor as they will disrupt and possibly confuse the consumers as opposed to the much safer small increments strategy which appeals to an already convinced customer pool…

More information here

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species or natural systems on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…

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Biomimetic file 160: Oceanic Bio-inspired Turbines

Why a different way of thinking is required to generate an innovation breakthrough

biwaveImage source: BioPower Systems. A breakthrough*: an important discovery or event that helps to improve a situation or provide an answer to a problem.

Highlight: “A wave power unit inspired by the way kelp strands sway with the ocean’s flow has been installed off Port Fairy, Australia. Wave power is still in the development stage with multiple, very different designs jostling to prove themselves as the prospect most deserving of mass production. The installation of Sydney-based company BioPower’s design, known as the bioWAVE, represents the arrival of a new, and radically different, contender…”

Insight: It often takes a radical different way of thinking to move forward. Societies improvement seem to follow a nonlinear pattern by which an innovative idea rises and eventually succeeds; it is then copied and slowly improved overtime until an innovative contender initiates a new cycle.

Renewable energies have been “stuck” for some time in the improvement phase and it is time for radical innovations to move ahead rapidly. Indeed, while typical solar and wind energies have improved significantly in efficiency over the last decade or so, the basic ideas used to capture the energy have made little progress. At the end of the day radical thinking is key to progress, it is just that some ideas succeed at gaining societal acceptation (which leads to business success) while others don’t…

While idea generation is a complex process that sometimes just comes from chance/inspiration, a framework can be set to help the process: basically it requires asking oneself some simple questions:

  • Is the conventional approach the only way to reach the desired outcomes? Can I think of anything else?
  • Is this new way (if any) feasible (technologically and financially)?
  • Is my idea innovative at all (has it been done before)?
  • How to start and progressively aim for that goal?

The great thing about biomimetics is that it is a good way to put the above framework into application, especially the idea generation part. Indeed, nature offers countless examples of processes which can inspire applications that benefit us and the best thing is that it is still virtually untapped which also means that nature inspired designs are almost always innovative (at least for now)…

Are you planning to release a product/service? If so, perhaps ask yourself the above questions and see if you want to go the mainstream way or perhaps be a bit more daring an try the innovative way. However, keep in mind that the innovative path is often associated with greater risks but if successful the returns will be greater and more satisfying…

More information: here

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…

bluestrike logo

www.bluestrike-group.com