It was seen that the works of founders of States, law-givers, tyrant-destroyers, and heroes cover
but narrow spaces and endure but for a time; while the work of the inventor, though of less pomp,
is felt everywhere and lasts forever.          - Francis Bacon Preface to a Treatise on Interpreting Nature




The Design of Everyday Things

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How to Design Breakthrough Inventions

A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley


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Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 2010

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
     - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You can learn how to be you....  All you need is love."
     - Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Sometimes, less is more.

Imagine a dark June night in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and a hillside full of fireflies.  At first, each flickers independently.  Then pairs, then threesomes, flicker together.  Soon tens of thousands flash as one, in rhythm.  They have no leader, yet their synchronized light show couldn't be better.  Just individual fireflies being themselves.  As glorious as these creatures are, they aren't unique.

Nature is filled with self-organized complex systems.  Rhythmic breathing synchronizes the heartbeats of a mother and her unborn child.  An athlete playing "in the zone" amazes onlookers.  Doctors use sandwiches of spontaneously synchronized superfluids (Josephson junctions) to noninvasively pinpoint brain tumors or sources of epileptic seizures.  Can independent inventors self-organize, to level the playing field of innovation and compete with big corporations?  Albert Schinazi thinks so, and offered to help us synchronize ourselves into a lean mean innovation machine.

The Idea - Intentional Sharing
Spontaneous order goes by many names in the business world - self-organization of complex adaptive systems, chaord, collective intelligence, crowd sourcing, grass roots organization, open innovation, open sourcing, open space technology, self-help groups, wisdom of crowds, etc.  In this case of a group of inventors, each person would think and act independently while sharing in a process of deciding how to profitably bring inventions to market.

     "Fish got to swim, birds got to fly." - Oscar Hammerstein II
Inventors who want to self-organize need to have two traits.  One trait is a commitment to innovate, actively and productively, in one way or another.  The more diverse the people, the better.  People who know accounting, business, creativity, different technologies and designs, human behavior, intellectual property law, manufacturing, marketing and public relations, product development or distribution, regulations, sales, or anything else related to innovation all have something to contribute.

     Dialog
The second trait is a commitment to dialog - to gathering and sharing information about innovation and to working toward a consensus on how to innovate.  At each moment, each person is learning (listening), teaching (speaking), or both.  Conflicts and mistakes help everyone learn about the environment of innovation (which changes over time) so they can keep trying to succeed.  Everyone brings something to the table and shares in the potluck dinner.  One person brings two loaves of bread, another three fishes, another only hunger.  Sharing multiplies the loaves and fishes so that no one goes away hungry.

How It Works
A meeting facilitator tries to create the conditions that help people self-organize.  A day-long meeting might go like this.  A facilitator, such as Mr. Schinazi, starts by explaining how the meeting will proceed.  He asks everyone for problems that they want people to work on during the meeting, and for a time and place to work on them.  Each person then decides which, if any, discussions to attend.  Each discussion group works on its problem and decides which post-meeting actions to take.  Someone in each group records the important points of the discussion and, by the end of the meeting, the facilitator combines all of the recordings into one summary document.  Just before the meeting ends, everyone gets a copy of the summary document and gathers to talk about the highlights of the meeting and the actions they will take.

Examples
Several websites use collective intelligence to solve difficult problems - Article One Partners (improves patents by finding prior art), Breakthroughs to Cures (improves medicine by improving the medical research system), FoldIt (discovers how proteins fold; people of average education outperform computers), Innocentive (solves problems for organizations by expanding their sources of innovation), and Quirky.com (develops product designs).

During a 3-day, 300 person, company-wide strategy conference, an idea from a security guard led to new products that netted Rockport Shoes $18 million during the first year of sales.

Dee Hock, founder and former CEO of the VISA credit card association, used self-organization to build a trillion dollar company.

Learn more about this kind of self-organization at The Chaordic Commons, Open Space World, or StartUp Weekend.  If you are interested in self-organizing with other inventors, please contact Mr. Schinazi.

Thank you, Mr. Schinazi for telling us about this interesting topic.

Patent Drawings by Richard McVicker

Some inventions patented by our members:

Bob Brand
3,179,907 Tuning system for television receivers
3,219,933 Television tuner switching system
3,241,072 Tuning control system
3,538,466 Television tuner cast housing with integrally cast transmission lines
4,503,740 Optical cutting edge locator for a cutting apparatus
4,503,896 Dog system for veneer slicer
4,601,317 Veneer slicing system
5,511,598 Veneer-slicer with remotely controllable blade angle adjustment
5,562,137 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,590,700 Vacuum flitch table with self-cleaning vacuum valve
5,678,619 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer from a tapered flitch
5,680,887 Veneer slicer with timing belt
5,694,995 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,701,938 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,819,828 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,868,187 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,395,843 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,552,750 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer sheets from a flitch

Rick Hanson
6,240,579 Unitary pedal control of brake and fifth wheel deployment via side and end articulation with additional unitary pedal control of height of patient support
6,253,397 Deployable siderails for a wheeled carriage
6,256,812 Wheeled carriage having auxiliary wheel spaced from center of gravity of wheeled base and cam apparatus controlling deployment of auxiliary wheel and deployable side rails for the wheeled carriage
6,264,006 Brake for castered wheels
6,507,964 Surgical table
D474,446 Sterilizable battery component

Bob Humbert
4,281,368 Keyhole illuminating apparatus

Ron Jackson
4,886,110 HVAC zone control system
4,943,039 Adjustable clamp
4,987,409 Level sensor and alarm
5,132,669 Level sensor with alarm
5,381,989 Adjustable spring clamp
5,944,098 Zone control for HVAC system
6,145,752 Temperature monitoring and control system
6,322,443 Duct supported booster fan
D347,596 Audible security alarm
D376,747 Door security device

Jerry McQuinn
D689,343 Universal Nutcracker

Richard McVicker
3,261,937 Three position snap switch utilizing interference blade means
3,319,477 Timer Escapement
3,332,704 Manually propelled treadmill vehicle
4,625,616 Thumb pick
6,309,076 Light barrier, screen or reflector
D240,237 Sculpture or the like
D356,653 Yard light
8389839 Thumb pick

Bill Pangburn
5,943,831 Device for Hauling Objects

Al Robbins

3,882,960 Ride quality control for surface effects craft
3,946,689 Air dynamo pressure regulation and modulation device for surface effect ships and air cushion vehicles
6,588,702 Lighter-than-air device having a flexible usable surface

Matt Thie
4,844,446 Multiple-compartment currency stacker-sorter
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
7,298,280 Lighted fluid flow indication apparatus
7,617,826 Conserver

Richard Tucker
5,833,751 Powder coating booth having smooth internal surfaces
6,840,367 Material handling and manufacturing system and method
6,976,835 Manufacturing system and process
7,018,579 Manufacturing system and process

Don Walls
D707090 Torque key lever
RE36209 Door lock apparatus

Dave Zedonis
5,637,926 Battery powered electronic assembly for wheel attachment

Patent Document of the Month

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