Play – create – innovate: have fun, make money

Have you ever seen a keyboard made from bananas? Playing with technology can stimulate creative thinking: a much needed quality in the field of Service Innovation.

banana piano from http://www.kickstarter.com

The picture shows a keyboard made from bananas, one example of what a creative thinker could do with Makey Makey; an invention kit which can be used to turn everyday objects into touchpads and link them to the internet.

Makey Makey was supported by Kickstarter a funding platform for creative projects including art, design, fashion, music and technology. Other innovative projects include a mask to make your dreams more lucid and a 3D printer kit that anyone can build.

‘From play to innovation’ is the title of a course at Stanford University where engineering students “Learn to enhance the innovation process with playfulness”. Students learn theory and practice and how to apply “design thinking to promote innovation in the corporate world.”

In the book ‘Think, play, do’ Dodgson, Gann and Salter examine the idea of ‘play’ as part of the design process through a series of commercial case studies. They identify the use of ‘Innovation Technology’, such as modelling and simulation, visualisation, virtual reality and rapid prototyping, as tools for playing with alternative designs. They also discuss the importance of “combining craft and code” (p 135) i.e. having people with deep knowledge and experience of their discipline as well as the ability to play with the innovation technology.

‘Think, play, do’ includes a section called ‘measuring play’ (p.109) which the authors recognise as being difficult but suggest that one “partial measure of play activities relates to the expenditure on design”.  Play can increase creativity and decrease the time taken to weigh up alternative designs; thus potentially reducing the cost and increasing the quality of the chosen design.

Play – create – innovate: have fun and (potentially) make money!

Reference:   Dodgson, M., Gann, D., Salter, A.,  2005,Think, play, do, technology, innovation and organization,  Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-926809-6

Acknowledgement: Thank you to Babis Theodoulidis for pointing me to Makey Makey

Case Studies in Service Innovation – new book

Recently published book part of the Springer Series ‘Service Science: Research and Innovations in the Service Economy’

CASE STUDIES IN SERVICE INNOVATION

Case Studies in Service Innovation provides the reader fresh insight into how innovation occurs in practice, and stimulates learning from one context to another. The volume brings together contributions from researchers and practitioners in a celebration of achievements with the intention of adding to the wider understanding of how service innovation develops.

Each of the 21 cases presents a brief description of the context in which the innovation occurred, the opportunity that led to the innovation and an overview of the innovation itself, also addressing how success was measured, what success has been achieved to date and providing links to further information.

The book is organized around five major themes, each reflecting recognized sources of service innovation:

  • Business Model Innovation: new ways of creating, delivering or capturing economic, social, environmental and other types of value;
  • The Organization in its Environment: an organization engaging beyond its own boundaries, with public private partnerships, sourcing knowledge externally, innovation networks, and open or distributed innovation;
  • Innovation Management within an Organization: an organization actively encouraging innovation within its own boundaries using project teams, internal governance of innovation, and methods or tools that stimulate innovation;
  • Process Innovation: changes in service design and delivery processes, such as consumer led innovation or consumers as part of the innovation process, service operations management, and educational processes;
  • Technology Innovation: the use of technology, including ICT enabled innovation, ICTs that are themselves innovative and support the delivery of new services, new ICT services, new ways of delivering services associated with ICT products, and technology other than ICT.

The final part of the book is given to four extended cases allowing for a more in-depth treatment of innovation within a complex service system. The extended cases also illustrate two important and growing trends, firstly the need for, and benefits of, a more customer centric approach to service innovation and secondly the need for better understanding of public services and the role of public-private partnerships in identifying and achieving innovation.

Case studies in Service Innovation is also available as an e-book.