The idea of biomimicry is a very timely one. We've seen a lot of biomimicry-based innovation on this web site, in the form of robots that mimic biological life forms. More recently, I've often heard it said that customers can be a good resource for innovation, if the customers are correctly trained to help the design engineers.
What does TRIZ stand for, is it an acronym? Whatever path you take for inspiration in a design is a good way. Unlike Edison, I say calculate and simulate is the best way to go. Never try the "10,000 things that don't work" first.
Thanks for your inputs, apresher and everyone else. If you'd like to learn more, Eogogics is offering a free one-hour weblive class on 25 April, and you can sign up at www.eogogics.com. It won't be a sales presentation, and I'll be the guy presenting it. If you want more information, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For everyone who left a post, my apologies for taking so long to reply. I've been overseas training in these areas, and I am just now catching up.
Joseph, I enjoyed your article and appreciate the three methods that you touched on. However, I was a bit confused regarding the use of "brainstorming" and "approaches to brainstorming" as to me, they seem quite similar. Could you please provide a good working definition of brainstorming as it pertains to your article? I think that would clarify it for me - thanks!
Brainstorming generally refers to an unfettered flow of ideas, with quantity being more important than quality. The thought is that many ideas will result in one or more good ones, and the concern is that the ideas should not be evaluated or critiqued during the brainstorming session as this might tend to slow the flow.
One of the disadvantages of brainstorming is that the conversation can go off on a tangent. The other approaches suggested here tend to focus the brainstorming in particular areas, generally resulting in more useable suggestions.
All of this is explained in more detail in Unleashing Engineering Creativity, and we'll touch on it during our Weblive training session on 25 April at noon Eastern time. You can sign up for the course for free at www.eogogics.com. I hope to see you there.
Thanks for the explanation, Joe. That makes perfect sense to me and clarified the points you were making in the article. I can recall countless engineering meetings where our brainstorming went down bunny trails that got lost in the forest and didn't emerge for hours! Focus can be a very good thing...
It sounds like that will be a fascinating training session and I love the title - I have always enjoyed the creative aspects of engineering and being able to think "out of the box" is crucial for a test engineer. Thanks again for a very interesting article and I hope to make the Weblive training session if my schedule permits.
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