10 Steps To Creating Cutting-Edge Technology
Though each technology invention is unique in its own right, there are certain commonalities to be found in the innovation process. We've simplified a 10-step approach for moving from concept to useful product after numerous lessons gained in taking up the labor of technological innovation for several years. To provide practical examples, I'll relate to my work with Mobile Inspection Forms.
1. Identify A Gap In The Market
The closer you are to a problem's solution, the more likely you are to solve it. Unmet and concealed wants abound in the world, with individuals accepting pain in the absence of a better option. Symptoms typically mask the main problem, thus solutions are difficult to come by. PCS saw an unmet need to expedite the inspection reporting process after receiving hundreds of thousands of inspection reports, as regulatory requirements were placing strain on current systems and raising the stakes. We confirmed the requirement by interacting with a number of inspectors and understanding the limitations of existing systems firsthand. The fundamental pain areas in present tools and procedures might then be investigated.
2. Investigate A Solution's Consequences
When you fix one problem, you frequently generate a slew of others. Have you merely addressed a symptom? Was there a deeper need for the solution that made it unwelcome? Needs do not exist in a vacuum. They're intertwined with other issues that are being addressed with exorbitant recompense. It pays to have confirmed every assumption feasible and understood the impacts of the solution as soon as change begins to occur and old systems are uprooted. Great inventors like Sakichi Toyoda have developed a valuable framework for root cause analysis: ask "why" five times, and the response to the fifth "why" generally pinpoints the fundamental cause. The first four responses provide information on the problem's background and symptoms. The inspection reporting process provided several opportunities for improvement, but we needed to be certain of why particular procedures were in place and what altering them would entail. We had to prove that by eliminating typical mistakes like wrongly formatted station numbers, erroneously labeling the report, and saving over a previous report, Mobile Inspection FormsTM really reduced the time spent by inspectors preparing reports and that those reports were more accurate. These factors would show whether or not technology's impacts were helpful. A simplified approach not only saved inspectors a lot of time, but it also automated a lot of what office managers used to do. We had to understand assumptions and implications we hadn't thought about the hard way a few times before getting it properly.
3. Collect Stakeholder Requirements
Initial technological needs are driven by a well-defined problem in context. Now comes the difficult task of uncovering people' secret expectations for technology. When people utilize technology, what do they expect? What aspects of it may make their lives easier? Harder? What is it about technology that concerns them? We spoke with some seasoned inspectors to learn what they liked and disliked about the current Excel solutions. Basic engagement with UI/UX prototypes lets people express their expectations and creates buy-in so they can anticipate what will happen next. This will save you time in the future.
4. Collaborate With All Stakeholders To Design And Plan
Many inventions begin with a hazy idea of a problem and arrogance about a solution: a low-impact formula. Estimate what it will take to truly fix a well-defined problem with the help of technical experts, business advocates, and individuals who are close to the issue. We brought timetables, budgets, and a seasoned inspector and business advocate to the table after many complete iterations to assist ensure we were on the correct track at every phase. It is critical to assemble a high-functioning team. Here, frankness and modest estimations are essential. If the problem isn't genuine or you don't have the bare minimum of resources to tackle it, save everyone's time and move on to a problem where you have a higher chance of succeeding.
5. Frequently Build And Deliver Using Clear Requirements
The engineers work their magic here. Clear needs and expectations, combined with a challenge to address a genuine problem, create an environment conducive to true creativity. Because technology is produced one functioning component at a time, with a lot of risk and failure in between, having precise parameters makes it easier to communicate and communicate about the inherent dangers of innovation. The initial development deliverables and evaluations for Mobile Inspection FormsTM were too widely apart, which sent the development team out on their own building with much too little contact. We were finally able to resolve this issue by clearer responsibilities and excessive communication. Break down the development process into smaller functional units with explicit requirements and communicate often. When a feature will take a lot of time to create and isn't mission vital, it's better to break it down into smaller chunks and collect input rather than spending a lot of time on it and then re-building it.
6. Always, Always, Always
People don't know what they want until you show them, as Steve Jobs showed us. This applies to what they don't want as well. Make room for individuals to discuss what they don't like about what you're showing them, and pay attention to where they become confused or upset. We had entirely unbiased people with field expertise evaluate the system and provide input from a field viewpoint while important sections of Mobile Inspection FormsTM were built out. No matter how much effort is spent at the beginning attempting to understand the problem and gather all of the criteria for the best technological solution, the fact is that when someone tests what you produced, you will surely receive more precise and rich information. Shorter feedback cycles provide for quicker access to this valuable data. This is especially true for pipeline inspectors, thus we took care to take into account all criticism and include it into the criteria for the next stage of development.
Iteration is a necessary part of the innovation process. Sorry if the headline led you to believe there are ten stages to creating an innovative technology: this is just not the case. Every step builds on the one before it, and if you skip forward to the next one too soon, you'll end up back where you left off with your due diligence. It's possible that you've gone all the way back to Step 1 and have only learnt what not to do. However, if you completed the previous four stages correctly, it is beneficial to repeat Steps 5 and 6 as many times as you can afford and as quickly as possible. Iterate if you're unsure. Reverse the errors, and better define the contextual demands you didn't realize existed before you started. Everything should be tested. To arrange these iterations, we used Scrum, an Agile product development methodology. This framework and communication offered a clear picture of the team's resources, allowing everyone to pitch in on activities that took longer than expected. If you come into time or financial limits, it's critical to focus on what's most essential to consumers first. This ensures that the most crucial aspects are in place. You may iterate endlessly, but the feedback you receive from people who use your technology will tell you when it's ready.
8. Explain Why They'll Enjoy It
You've produced something special, and people want to know why it's special and why it exists to meet a need you're familiar with. Tell people about how innovative technology can open up a whole new world of possibilities. Show them what you've created and invite them to test it out. Congratulations if they continuously become enthused and convey the value of the solution to you without prodding. If not, return to steps 1, 2, or 3 to begin again. But don't despair: this occurs all the time. Inspectors and project managers gave us the thumbs up after three full pilot installations of our solution. We're informing the world about Mobile Inspection FormsTM and how it's revolutionizing the way pipeliners gather information on the quality and progress of midstream projects now that we've got something that works.
9. Begin With A Strategic Partnership With Key Stakeholders
The most relevant information will come from the key stakeholders who are actually using and relying on your system. This knowledge may then be included into future versions of the technology. During the deployment phase, a technology launch should proactively involve these important stakeholders, and we found it ideal to include some key stakeholders directly on the deployment team. To achieve overall success, see a technology launch as a true collaboration between the technology consultant and key stakeholders. We build a customized plan for each project when using Mobile Inspection FormsTM, ranging from online training to field personnel capable of concurrently operating as a pipeline inspector and providing on-site Tier 1 assistance each day. We pay attention to the inspectors' and project managers' demands and tailor each deployment to ensure their success. This may entail tailoring procedures to their specific requirements or speeding up program upgrades in order to deliver the functionality they require.
10. Empathy-Based Support
Nothing is perfect. Every technology has flaws, and users are quite skilled at pointing them out. After putting in so much effort to create a beautiful product, it's easy to become frustrated when what you believe is a little issue looks to be big and dramatic to someone who is unable to do their job because it exists. In terms of assistance, empathy is crucial. You must be able to connect with the individual, then work to completely comprehend their problem, accept responsibility for any product flaws, and have a procedure in place to ensure that every concern is examined and remedied as promptly as possible. We realized over time that having personnel who could sympathize with the inspectors' predicament in the field was most successful, so we dispatched our own inspectors to work alongside them in the field. PCS's Support Team is made up of experts who understand what a jeep is, what MTR stands for, and the difference between a tie-in and a mainline weld, as well as why it's important. Given the time-sensitive nature of field work, we work hard to sympathize with inspectors, understand their challenges and perspectives, and consider how we can best solve it for them swiftly. If you pay attention, they could point you in the direction of another challenge that will inspire your next breakthrough technology.