Tag Archives: Innovation Management

Innovation Chat with Cristian, Top Innovator and Winner of LapTime Club 2014

After the final selection of LapTime Club 2014 Cristian Cascetta was the author of the second winning idea.

SEE ALSO: Innovation chat with Alessandro, one of the 2014 LapTime Club Winners

He thought to embed a knowledge management system in WinTAX to open up all this knowledge and make it available to decision makers using Search Technologies.

Being an innovator means to have an idea that can make the state of the art of something easier and more understandable for others. By the way, to simplify a process and to make the urgency hidden in it clear for people can be a great challenge, but Cristian made it thanks to his active and enthusiastic contribution to the community. He had the opportunity to share his own idea with other innovation enthusiasts like him, improving and shaping his initial proposal thanks to community comments and reviews, becoming also a Top Innovator for his high level of engagement with the community itself.

Cristian-Cascetta-Magneti-Marelli-LapTime-Club

Discover more about Cristian’s experience and suggestions through the following interview.

HELLO CRISTIAN, LAST YEAR LAPTIME CLUB APPRECIATED YOUR LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT AND THE INNOVATIVENESS OF YOUR SUGGESTIONS BY ANNOUNCING YOU ONE OF THE LAPTIME CLUB 2014 WINNERS. WOULD YOU TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU ARE DEVELOPING YOUR WINNING IDEA AND HOW MAGNETI MARELLI IS SUPPORTING YOU IN THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS?

It’s a dialogue. We are bridging Magneti Marelli’s world of ultraprecise data analysis and high accuracy manufacturing  with the quite fuzzy world of information retrieval, unstructured documents and natural language processing. We share the final goal of leveraging sense making of data to empower decision making.  In the last three months we analyzed together potential innovation directions and now we are defining a first minimum viable product or maybe – hopefully! – a first killer application.

I’m bringing in my expertise in information retrieval and document systems analysis and I’m getting back from Magneti Marelli precious insights into motorsport needs and requisites. It’s a bit cliché, but in these months I experienced in first person how much motorsport forces you to confront with extreme operating conditions and incredibly fast paced processes. It’s so inspiring that it helped me to re-frame other ideas I’m working on in my more “traditional” domain, finding at least two or three interesting innovation directions.

COULD YOU TELL US WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL APPROACH TO THE INNOVATION PROCESS? 

It’s all based on observation and listening to people. I try to put on the anthropologist hat and get rid of prejudice, looking at things with a fresh eye. It’s a great humility exercise, you don’t have to be scared of looking sometimes terribly naive or to ask too simple questions, and if people think at you like a sort of strange version of Lieutenant Columbo, who matters?

DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN WAY OF CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING?

 No, in fact I try to avoid to embrace too familiar paths. Obviously like everyone I have my own comforting rituals, spaces, objects and practices helping me to put myself in a mixed feeling of relax and enthusiasm to attack a new challenge.

 Usually I start reading very much, not necessarily staying on topic, sometimes also freely divagating, but trying to keep alive a present feeling of the problem I’m confronted with. It helps me to make fresh connections and find alternative paths to my problem.

TELL US ABOUT 3 KINDS OF PEOPLE YOU PREFER TO WORK WITH.

1-Technicians. 2-Technicians. 3-Technicians!

When you are engaged in new projects or you are trying to innovate, you have the chance to meet a wide range of professionals. Many of them, designers, marketing guys, entrepreneurs have a positive attitude in expressing creative ideas, no matter how crazy these ideas are.

Technicians are often in a more reserved attitude. Sometimes they’re scared of not being clear, or of expressing their ideas in a too technical language, sometimes it’s a matter of fear of not doing your job if you’re too creative. I like to talk with technicians and push them to force the boundaries. And every time I find so much unexpressed value in those conversations, a real gold mine!

WHAT ARE THE 3 FUNDAMENTAL THINGS THAT YOU ALWAYS PUT IN YOUR ‘INNOVATION TOOLKIT’?

The first is abstract thinking. I’m very influenced by my history of technology and philosophy of technology education background. Abstract thinking helps you to keep thing in motion instead of rushing into the first – often biased and sub-optimal – working solution. Philosophy of technology forces you to search for deep structures in socio-technological systems, these structures help you to go beyond the barriers of hyper specialistic, often fragmented, engineering domains.

The second fundamental tool for me is cross-industry innovation. It’s like: “Ok, I’ve this technical problem, no matter if it’s not so relevant or instead it’s a core problem for this current project. Let me start by searching for an industry where the solution of this problem is a matter of life or death.” It’s always very inspiring and if you stumble twice on the same industry for different problems related to your project, then it’s very likely you’ve found one of those deep structures I mentioned above. Or, even better, you’ve found a new potential market for your idea!

Thirdly, I’m very interested in innovation methodologies. I really appreciate Triz the Russian “theory of inventive problem solving“, but I’m not strictly influenced by a specific methodology, instead I cherry-pick from different approaches depending on the current problem. What I like in innovation methodologies is that they help you not to overestimate the importance of intuition and creativity and to focus instead on the innovation process. When you work with or you meet creative, innovation-driven, interesting people – I’ve the chance of being in this happy situation – you can be overwhelmed by creative ideas. Innovation methodologies help you to channel all this energy.

COULD YOU GIVE 3 SUGGESTIONS FOR STARTUPPERS, INNOVATIVE THINKERS AND FOR ALL THE LAPTIME CLUB MEMBERS?

Three are too many! I don’t have three suggestions. What I can say is that I rarely found such open-minded and true innovation driven attitude as with Magneti Marelli guys. When I started to follow LapTime Club community I was a bit anxious of proposing ideas in such a selective and exclusive domain as professional motorsport. What I feel now that I had the opportunity of discussing by person about my idea is that total outsiders like me are not only welcome, but they can bring in real value from other industries and experiences.

So, my advice is to accept the challenge and propose your idea. Sure, Magneti Marelli tech guys are very demanding and challenging, but what you’d expect? It’s motorsport, after all!

Cristian-Cascetta-Magneti-Marelli-LapTime-Club-Idea-2014

Thank you Cristian for sharing with us your experience and continue to enrich the LapTime Club community with your ideas!

A 3-step Guide to Create Innovative and Breakthrough Ideas

In today’s economy, the ability to quickly think about and share new and fresh ideas is becoming more and more strategic, both for people and organizations. But as research led by Wharton’s Jennifer Mueller and recently reported by Harvard Business Review blog suggests, many people tend to have some bias against really innovative thoughts

Mueller’s team found that people often claim to want new and creative ideas, but when presented with those ideas in an uncertain environment and asked to evaluate them, the more novel ideas often get a lesser rating. Further research also showed that managers and senior leaders especially tend to reject the very ideas customers want.

In order to solve this criticality, Adobe Systems has recently launched the Adobe Kickbox, a new program to spur innovation from within the organization.

SEE ALSO: How to Evaluate a Great Motorsport Idea?

Kickbox Adobe

The top of the box features a clever fire alarm image with the words “Pull in Case of Idea” written on it. When you break open the seal, you’ll find instruction cards, a pen, two Post-It note pads, two notebooks, a Starbucks gift card, a bar of chocolate and (mostly importantly) a $1,000 prepaid credit card. The card can be used on anything the employee would like or need without ever having to justify it or fill out an expense report.

But in addition to tools, how to successfully keep on thinking about and trying to implement breakthrough ideas?

3 effective tips to become a Top Innovator

#1 Welcome the unfamiliar

Try to break your habits, which make you comfortable while limiting  your horizons. As suggested by Kaihan Krippendorff on Inc.com:

Most of us do our best work when we’re someplace familiar, using tools we know well.

In this case, however, a major reason you’re in a rut (and thus need a breakthrough) is that your brain associates your surroundings with all the stuff you’ve done and the thoughts you’ve had in the past.

#2 Remix the problem

Changing the question often becomes really important to approach the problem from another perspective. Here’s an example from the robots industry:

Gentile was once asked by some researchers to help them figure out how they might commercialize robots they had been working on. When Gentile stepped into their lab, they eagerly walked him over to their robots that were swinging their arms in their best effort to mimic human movement. But Gentile got distracted by some computer screens across the room where he saw stick-figure depictions of the robots moving seamlessly. He asked, “What are those?” and learned that the researchers had developed software to read and depict their movement. Gentile’s eyes gleamed and he said, “Forget the robots!” He had changed the question from “How can we commercialize robots?” to “How can we commercialize the software?” The idea led to a new form of more realistic animation for video games and movies.

#3 Re-use your knowledge and leverage your best skills

Sometimes, invent “simply” means repurpose the old. Companies and innovative projects tend to grow by leveraging assets they have built in old businesses to create new businesses.

Why don’t you test yourself?

LapTime Club, the social innovation community designed and built by Magneti Marelli, is entirely built on user-generated passions and breakthrough ideas.

Join the community and fuel your lateral thinking, coherently to the different challenges already launched!

* David Burkus, Inside Adobe’s Innovation Kit, hbr.org
** Kaihan Krippendorff, 4 Steps for Breakthrough Ideas, fastcompany.com
*** Geoffrey James, How to Come Up With a Breakthrough Idea, inc.com

Come on board: how to optimize an Open Innovation project?

Open Innovation Magneti Marelli Motorsport LapTime Club

As underlined by professionals, experts and researchers*, open innovation projects are built on:

“a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology.”

This translates into enhanced innovation capabilities but also into new challenges, because innovation requires experimentation. Nevertheless, the new open approach to innovation is having a great success among an increasing number of international companies, providing new insights and fresh ideas from the outside.

SEE ALSO: Open innovation as a strategic leverage: an interview with Riccardo de Filippi, Head of R&D Magneti Marelli Motorsport

It is important to remember, that the scope of and open innovation project consists not only in finding ready-to-go solutions, but also in discovering hidden needs and potential problems to fix, which may become opportunities for new products and services.

As you already know, Magneti Marelli LapTime Club is an international open/social innovation community, created and designed in order to increase sources of inspiration and new ideas for the motorsport, automotive and racing world. Not only its launch, but also its constant optimization and evolution is driven by the identification of real needs, through the active participation (ideas, comments and engagement) of Members.

After the first successful months of the LapTime Club activity, now it is up to you: we would like to hear your opinions and suggestions to enrich your experience. The goal is to gain a better understating of the general perception of the LapTime Club project while trying to draw its future evolution scenarios.

Either you are or not a Member of the community, we invite you to take a short survey, that will take about 5 minutes to complete and can be accessed at the following links until 1st March 2015.

Are you ready to come on board and become the driving force of the project’s future?

* H. W. Chesbrough (2003), Open Innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.