The Power of the New Renaissance

Companies that develop new products and services do their best to meet the needs, wants, and desires of society today. These needs change, and products and services that meet wants of the past will not perfectly fulfill future desires. No one can predict how society will evolve, but human beings have a hand in directing that evolution through the design of products and services. The common thread that connects the advancement of products and services, such as the OXO vegetable peeler and Starbucks coffee, to technology changes such as the Apple iPod for music delivery, to the Prius hybrid and future alternative-powered vehicles, is that they must be designed! These designs are all part of the human-driven evolution that exists in con­nection with or in spite of natural evolution. For better or worse, they drive economies of production and consumption. The cycle will not change, and innovation will continue to evolve, because the social, economic, and technological (SET) factors are constantly changing.

These opportunities are complex and multidimensional. Solutions today must be skillful translations of an increasingly sophis­ticated global market that is informed and educated by an interna­tional infotainment network that relays the latest trends instantly to the far corners of the earth. Solutions today require innovation with respect to all aspects of a product—its connection to human emotion as well as its technical ability. No one can afford to be a disciplinary ostrich achieving isolated excellence, because design requires the integration of a vast and diverse set of skills. Just as important as the skills of creating are the skills of understanding others in the context of ever-changing SET factors. A product is developed by people for people. The human dimension is central to the process and to the outcome.

Leonardo da Vinci was part artist, scientist, and engineer. He painted; developed anthropometric data; designed machines for flight, weaponry, mechanical work, and more; and even conducted ethnographic-based studies for his work. da Vinci was more than an inventor, someone who painted, or someone who made discoveries; he has become the symbol of a broader, more expansive way of think­ing and working. The term Renaissance man has been used to describe him as a person who was the epitome of a period in time when Europe emerged from the Dark Ages, and his ideas represent­ed a multidisciplinary way of thinking. we are in a new economic age that is in need of a new Renaissance in product development, one that leverages multiple minds working in concert. A “Renaissance” image that is more appropriate to our time than “Renaissance man” is that of a “Renaissance team,” a group of people dedicated to mak­ing the most of the art and science in all that they create and design. The people highlighted in this book as the new breed of innovator understand the power of teams to achieve extraordinary innovation. They were not born innovative, but they learned how to excel as lead­ers of innovation.

Everyone who embraces the principles and ideas of pragmatic innovation—an interdisciplinary collaboration, a structured process of exploration, a balance between art and science, a focus on experi­ence and fantasy—can grow into this new breed of innovator. Those who understand and practice these principles are the people who will define the directions of new products, who will lead the design of the new experiences that form the global economy of opportunity, and who will inspire others with their vision and understanding of a process that yields extraordinary innovation. These are the people who will design the extraordinary things to come.

[1] Postrel V I. The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness. HarperCollins, New York, 2003. p. 67.

[2] The InnRoad. A film produced by R. Lambert and presented by Advanced Elostomer Systems, 2004.

[3] Cooper, R. G. Winning at New Products: Accelerating the Process from Idea to Launch. Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, 2001.

[4] Simon, H. A. The Science of the Artificial. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1969.

[5] Cagan, J. and C. M. Vogel. Creating Breakthrough Products: Innovation from Product Planning to Program Approval. Financial Times Prentice Hall,

Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2002.

[6] Moore, G. Crossing the Chasm. Harper Perennial, New York, 1999.

[7] Wasch, H. “Armstrong cycles hope across the miles.” ESPN. com, 2004.

[8] Overholt, A. “Thinking Outside the Cup.” Fast Company, Issue 84, July, 2004 p. 50.

[9] Cooper, R. G. Winning at New Products: Accelerating the Process from Idea to Launch. Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, 2001.

[10] Ralston, A. Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Atria Publishing, 2004.

[11] If you practice product development and want more information, the tools and theory of this process are detailed in Cagan, J. and C. M. Vogel. Creating Breakthrough Products: Innovation from Product Planning to Program Approval. Financial Times Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2002.

[12] Provisional patents, discussed further in the next chapter, give a company a year of protection at a reasonable cost before it needs to invest in the more expensive full patent.

[13] Traffix Devices, Inc. v. Marketing Displays, Inc. 532 U. S. 23, 2001.