Monday, October 31, 2016

Innovative Software Product Design and Development [Concepts, Principles and Guidelines] - 01/10


Bloom's Taxonomy
Bloom's Taxonomy was proposed by Benjamin Bloom (Along-with Other Collaborators) to classify educational objectives based on levels of complexity and specificity. There are three main domains into which these objectives are classified:
  • Cognitive Domain (Knowledge Based)
  • Affective Domain (Emotive Based)
  • Psychomotor Domain (Action Based)
In 2001, the Bloom's Taxonomy was revised into the below form.


It is the lowest level in the hierarchy and emphasizes on memorization without understanding. Learners will have to absorb, remember, recognize and recall information. However it is a building block for other levels as Learners must be able to absorb and remember things before moving up the hierarchy.

Remember and Understand go Together, but Understand goes one step ahead. This emphasizes comprehending whatever is learnt. Learners should be able to describe the material presented and also be able to grasp and interpret prior learning.

The emphasis is on applying concepts, laws, methods, rules, theories and any newly learned information to situations with minimal direction. Learning outcomes require a higher level of understanding than Understand.

This is a higher level than Apply becuase here the emphasis is on understanding the content and structure of the information. Learner will have to breakdown information into various component and understand the relationship between each part of information. This may also involve understanding the abstractness or principles involved in each component of information.

The next higher level for a learner is Evaluate where ability to judge the value of a material applicable to a current situation. The ability to justify a stand or decision through comparing, contrasting, summarizing and criticizing are applicable here. The outcomes here are very high in the cognitive hierarchy, requiring all abilities below it in the learning hierarchy plus the judgement based on criteria

The highest cognitive abilities or outcomes are associated with Create. The ability of a learner to use all of the levels of the hierarchy to investigate, author, formulate, assemble and design absolutely new or original work.

Edgar Dale's Cone of Experience (Cone of Learning)


Edgar Dale was an American Educationist who developed the Cone of Learning in 1946. It is an effort to estimate or deduce the (amount of) information one can remember based on how they encounter information. The actual numbers (percentages) mentioned originated in 1967, based on a published study/article. 

The above figure is self-explanatory. On the left hand outer side of the cone,  details on what an individual or learner will be able to remember based on the actual activities carried out is provided. On the right hand outer side of the cone,  the outcomes of the learners on what they learner will be equipped to do (or be able to do) as a resultant of these activities. The center of the cone (or the cone itself) provides examples of the 'type of activities'. This includes examples of activities that are usually done by learners or advanced learners.

Make Meaning vs. Make Money

As per Guy Kawasaki, The essence of Entrepreneurship is to make meaning. The abstract or the important points in this regard:

- Companies that have their fundamental mission to make the world a better place have the greater chance to make a difference and to succeed.
- If you make meaning, there is a greater chance that you will make money. If you set out to make money, you may make neither money nor any difference to the world (meaning).
- Three ways to make meaning: -Increase the Quality of Life, -Right a Wrong, -Prevent the end of Something Good 
- If you are not doing any of the three above, then you may have to rethink about your organization's purpose to be.

Buyer's Market vs. Seller's Market
A Buyer's Market is one in which the supply far exceeds the demand. In such a market, the chances of good lying on the shelf for a long time and the prices being lower than usual are the usual outcomes or characteristics.

A Seller's Market is the exact reversal of the above conditions. This is the one in which the demand far exceeds supply. The seller's have an upper hand under such circumstances and the chances that there is a shortage of good due to quick sales of available goods and that too at a higher price than usual.

Old Thinking vs. New Thinking


Check your Innovation Quotient #01 : Can you Identify 20 (at the least) different ways of dividing a SQUARE into 4 Equal Parts (Equal Parts = Equal Area)

Greatest Innovators #01 : Albert Einstein : Einstein: The Story of a Genius - Documentary


There are various approaches to define Innovation. Innovation can have various or different meanings to various or different people. Since there are so many definitions for Innovation - As a student, I present the top 10 along with the sources or individuals who defined them. You may find individuals and sources from all walks of life providing their own perspective or a definition of Innovation itself. The remaining for you to find from the Internet as a TODO through your own efforts.

1. Innovation is “The creation of new products and/or services” [Investor Words]
2. Innovation Lowers the costs and/or increases the benefits of a task” [Yost]
3. Innovation is A patentable solution (external verified uniqueness) with a differentiated business model that changes the basis of business for that specific industry sector. [Ray Meads]
4. Innovation is To dare to challenge mainstream thinking and behavior pattern.” [Lars Christensen]
5. Innovation is “The practical translation of ideas into new or improved products, services, processes, systems or social interactions” [The University of Melbourne]
6. Innovation Tournaments: A new match between a need and a solution [Christian Terwiesch and Karl T. Ulrich]
7. Innovation is then Simply new technology, i.e. the systematic application of (new) knowledge to (new) resources to produce (new) goods or (new) services [Maciej Soltynski]
8. Innovation is The successful exploitation of new ideas” [Ber]
9. Innovation is The creation of something that improves the way we live our lives [Barack Obama]

That one definition that is accepted by most: Innovation is a) something fresh (new, original, or improved) b) that creates value

It is important we also quote from Wikipedia: 

Innovation is defined simply as a "new idea, device, or method". 

However, innovation is often also viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more-effective products, processes, services, technologies, or business models that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term "Innovation" can be defined as something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that "breaks into" the market or society. It is related to, but not the same as, invention.

Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value, more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.” [Sir Ken Robinson]

Wikipedia provides the following definition:

Creativity is a Phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a literary work, or a painting).

Creativity and Innovation
It is very important that one is able to appreciate the difference between Creativity and Innovation before getting ahead with further topics. 

Value + Creativity + Execution = Innovation

Something new is not enough for the definition of innovation. There are plenty cases where something new has no new value ( a new color of a product or a new chemical produced that does nothing). Sometimes, the value creation results because the item is simply useful to us. We can create a lot of fresh or new things that are of no use and no value. It must create value to be innovation. Also note that the “something” could be a process, product, or service and can start as small as your ideas and thoughts in your brain. In that case, it might just be innovative thinking.

This piece form Business Inside Australia is apt in putting the right thought process across in an Organizational or Corporate Context, including Software Product Companies.

[The main difference between creativity and innovation is the focus. Creativity is about unleashing the potential of the mind to conceive new ideas. Those concepts could manifest themselves in any number of ways, but most often, they become something we can see, hear, smell, touch, or taste. However, creative ideas can also be thought experiments within one person’s mind. Creativity is subjective, making it hard to measure, as our creative friends assert. Innovation, on the other hand, is completely measurable. Innovation is about introducing change into relatively stable systems. It’s also concerned with the work required to make an idea viable. By identifying an unrecognized and unmet need, an organisation can use innovation to apply its creative resources to design an appropriate solution and reap a return on its investment. Organisations often chase Creativity, but what they really need to pursue is Innovation. Theodore Levitt puts it best: “What is often lacking is not creativity in the idea-creating sense but innovation in the action-producing sense, i.e. putting ideas to work.”]

I will leave you with my personal favorite Quote:

Creativity is the Seed, Innovation is the fruit

Barriers to Creativity
Functional FixednessThe inability to use an object for something that it is actually meant for leads to Functional Fixedness. When one understands that a specific thing can be done only in a given way or that an object can only be used for what it was actually intended for, it leads to Functional Fixedness. 

Practical Mindedness

Some individuals have the habit of wanting to execute the idea as quickly as it would have occurred to them. This would stifle creativity. It would be in best interest, most times, that we let the idea mature by asking further and probing questions to ourselves. This may lead to a discovery that no one could ever achieve before.

Fear of Ridicule

This is true, especially for Organizations. If an Organization (or Individual) is not able to take risks then they will usually be working at their sub-optimal potential. It may happen that there is success sometimes and the other times, they may fail. Often, the learning potential from failure is far greater than from a success.

Resource Myopia
Resource Myopia is usually a short-sightedness where the individual see thing as they are, rather than how they may be. We are usually unaware of our own strengths or of close our eyes to the resources that are actually at our disposal.

Over Specialization

If an individual is over specialized, he may be stuck with thoughts that are tried and tested. He may not be able to cross-pollinate or apply thoughts from across diverse fields or spectrums. 

Vertical Thinking

Vertical Thinking requires one to solve problems through a sequential approach. Vertical Thinking which is the opposite of Lateral Thinking. It requires one to solve problems where creative and multi-directional thought processes are considered insensible. 

Habit Transfer
The transfer of habit from one activity to another allows for prermature judgement of various attributes in a situation. The habit transfer may be both positive or negative transfer.

The above are different (though each of them will fit into one of the below) from the "Blocks to Creative Problem Solving or Block to Creativity", than can be classified as:
  • Habitual 
  • Perceptual 
  • Cultural
  • Emotional

Conducive to Creativity
Then there are factors that are conducive or ones that promote "Creativity" or "Creative Problem Solving". These are self-explanatory with focus on People, Processes and Product:

01. Self Motivation : Individuals that are Self Motivated will promote Creativity
02. Committed : Individuals Committed to finding the most Creative Solution

03. Willingness : Willingness of the Individual to go the extra mile supports Creativity\

04. Quest for Success : Quest for Success allows Creativity to thrive
05. Dissatisfaction : Dissatisfaction until the Most Creative Solution is Achieved 
06. Understand : Understanding and Being Open encourages Creativity 
07. Ego Blocks : Accept Reality, Adaptability, Sense of Adequacy
08. Fluency : Produce a large number of Similar Ideas 
09. Flexibility : Open Minded and Adaptive Problem Solving Approach 
10. Problem Sensitivity : Being Aware that a Problem Exists 
11. Constructive Discontent : Agreeing that Current Solutions are not most Optimal
12. Permissive Atmosphere: Processes should allow Creative Thinking
13. Originality : Aware of Value or Creativeness of an Idea

Stairway to Creativity [5 Stage Process]

Inception : The hardest task in the creative process is not to come out with solutions, but to understand the problem completely, that is at hand. This will allow us to break down the problem into components and also question conventional approaches to solving the same or same class or problems. This also involves creating the Brief or the Scope of the Task. [Understand the Task at Hand]

Incubation : Conscious Thought Process and the Unconscious Modes of Thinking both play a vital role in achieving the most Creative solution. The unconscious mode of thinking (Intuition) allows the cognitive machinery to use knowledge, past experiences and emotions to formulate and refine ideas. [Put the Task out of Your Immediate Attention]

Illumination : There is no single way to approach Creativity, but most creative people agree that there is an urge  to change their mental state at such  a point. There is a push to change some surrounding state, fundamentally to find focus and enhance the brain's cognitive reception of intuited notions. Most experienced creatives will become aware that a new idea is arrived at or is about be arrived out. This may also be through emotional triggers or feelings that allow them to recognize potential of current direction. [Inspiration is Revealed in the Form of Intuited Notion]

Realization : The thoughts that emerged during Illumination are mostly raw in that they are fleeting thoughts and mostly have no structure or context to it. Transforming Imagination into Tangible Form and leaving what is Pertinent to create Finite Form that can be put into Action or bought to Life. [Give Your Idea Context and Structure]

Verification : Testing Ideas against the Actual Outcomes. By Exposing Idea to further Analysis and Synthesis, we are able to judge its validity and judge the result. Ideas must agree to the original reasons of their origin and motivations behind their creation. If the idea does not sufficiently answer the Brief, take what is appropriate - discard the obscure and go to the stage one (Inception) and begin again.

Check your Innovation Quotient #02 : Can you make 4 Equilateral Triangles with 6 Matchsticks? In how many different ways can you achieve this?

Greatest Innovators #02 : Michael Faraday Michael Faraday - From Electricity to Power Generation

Best Quotes on Innovation, Education and Creativity

[Sumith Kumar Puri is a Student of the Proficience [Innovative Product Design and Development] - Aug/Dec 2016 at the Centre for Continuing Education, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore]