Do you have a problem? I mean that respectfully, of course. But really, what is your problem? And is it just you or is the problem with everyone else?
Quite often we are faced with difficult challenges that we are not sure how to solve. But how new is this problem you are presented with or have you seen this before?
New (big N) new (little n) or Better ?
We solve problems and challenges for our clients. We call this co-design. But the first question we always ask is, ‘Is this problem new to them only or is it new to everyone?’
If the problem is new to them, then there is bound to be a solution already that we can improve on. But if it’s New to the world or even just the aged care industry then the problem might not be as easily or readily solved!
New (cap N) to the world!
When Italian inventor Alessandro Volta developed the first practical method of generating electricity, the voltaic pile, it was seen as a predecessor to the modern battery. Subsequently, Volta’s glowing copper wire he used to demonstrate the pile is also considered to be one of the earliest manifestations of incandescent lighting.
Volta’s two inventions were of course New to the world. New (cap N) meaning never seen before. But rarely are inventions commercially viable. At best they are working prototypes. Or at worse just patented drawings.
Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan both created the first commercially available light globe. However, the sticking point with incandescent light globes was with the filament lasting only a few seconds. Swan based in England took out a UK patent for his light globe. But Edison seized on Swan’s design flaw and improved the filament in his light globe, and effectively won the battle to go to market with the better light globe. Later, both formed the company Edison-Swan United, which became one of the world’s largest manufacturers of light bulbs.
Edison and Swan didn’t invent the light globe. But both made it better than earlier attempts, with Edison bettering everyone with his filament design.
A light globe moment
The light globe is a great example for showing how innovation works. Quite often we can think that a rocket to Mars is needed when a longer lasting, more energy efficient light globe is better. Building and/or improving on technology that already exists is far easier than inventing something else entirely.
The incandescent light globe was the first to market. Then the CFL become the better globe. But now LEDs are leading the way in cost efficiency and longer performance.
Making something better can be far easier and more economical than inventing.
About the author
Anthony Carroll, Senior Marketing and Innovation Manager at Mirus Australia is an expert in human-centred design. Anthony regularly teaches at the University of Sydney, Centre of Continuing Education on this very subject and is an Expert-in-Residence for Mirus Australia Gold Partner innovAGEING. This post is part of the ‘Change doesn’t have to suck’ series which highlights the positive attributes change can bring to our lives, in the communities we live and work in and the world!
We will be discussing change at Aged Care industry events. See where we are speaking or visiting next by visiting our Events page See you there! #CDHTS #MakingAgedCareBetter