Humanity has not waited for Concept-Knowledge method to innovate!
The conclusion is unanimous: innovation is not a new phenomenon, prehistoric humans were already innovating. So why are we talking more and more about innovation, on TV, on the radio, on the internet?
Simply because today, everything is going faster! Globalization and new communication systems have democratized access to previously confidential information. For example, it is now possible to discover in a few minutes how a rocket works. This accessibility to information increases our ability to imagine new products by combining knowledge from historically unconnected domains – artificial intelligence in the automotive industry, nanomaterials in the textile industry.
In the same way, today more than ever, a company has the capacity to reinvent an industry by exploiting knowledge coming from fields sometimes far from its core activities. Bolloré (a French energy–communication–logistics conglomerate) entering public transport market with its self-service car (Autolib’, available in Paris), or Google, tackling the automotive sector with its autonomous car are two examples. As the boundaries between industries disappear, the frequency of innovations is accelerating.
This phenomenon imposes a new challenge to every company: being able to design new products at an unprecedented pace. The flash of genius of the 18th-century inventor or the hazardous search of the 20th century is no longer sufficient! Companies must have the tools to organize and manage innovation in a sustainable way.
This is what Concept-Knowlege (or C-K) is about.
What is Concept-Knowledge?
Simply put, Concept-Knowledge is a method that allows inventing highly innovative products or services – and driving the innovation process associated with it. Using Concept-Knowledge, products – e.g. a car, services – e.g. retail banking, or a process – e.g. parcel delivery – can be reinvented.
What Concept-Knowledge is to innovation, navigator’s chart is to explore the world. The methodology is used to map innovation paths to be explored, pick and choose the priority paths to engage in and spot the new knowledge learned on a path, update the map accordingly and investigate the next path.
This method brings together two worlds always separated so far: the world of creativity (Concept Space) and the world of knowledge (Knowledge space). The link between these two spaces makes it possible to increase tenfold, in a structured way, the capacity of anyone to create something new; to innovate. No need to be a brilliant inventor anymore!
Concept-Knowledge, how does it work?
It’s easy, its name says it all (almost)! It relies on two spaces, the Concept space and the Knowledge space.
The first one, the C space, is that of the imaginary, the impossible and the novelty. It is there that you tweak, transform and mutate the product (or service, or process) on which you want to innovate. For example, if you want to re-invent the umbrella, you can imagine “an umbrella without canvas” or “an umbrella that dries its user”. New concepts, which do not exist today, will always appear in the C space.
To go further and have these concepts to take shape, a second world is lacking, one that will help you to make them real. This is the K space. Let’s say you want to design “an umbrella that dries its user”. Then you will have to look for knowledge that is far from those related to the traditional umbrella that has no drying capacity. For instance, technologies used by the Dyson hand dryer could probably help you to refine this idea.
Using this new knowledge, you could then propose a new concept in the C space: “an umbrella that dries the user with a high-speed airflow”. But it is still unclear whether this concept is feasible or not. To achieve this, you need to return to the K space and determine if it is possible to use this technology to dry something larger than two hands.
By following this pattern of going back and forth between Concept and Knowledge spaces, you will obtain a completely new and achievable concept thanks to the knowledge you have acquired all along the process. Congratulations, you have designed a brand new object!
Concept-Knowledge, another method to innovate?
Concept-Knowledge is the only way to re-invent a product (or a service or a process) along its 4 dimensions:
- its value for the customer;
- its business model;
- its functions;
- its technologies.
To follow the umbrella example, Concept-Knowledge will guide you to rethink both the fact that “an umbrella is sold as a product” and the fact that “an umbrella is made of cloth fabric”. It is also the only methodology that pushes you to:
- generate a set of ideas with increasing originality on each of these dimensions (in the C space)
- validate or invalidate all of these ideas (using the K space).
Thus, for the designer, this method increases the probability of spotting and developing high-value disruptive concepts. For the management, it supports the construction of a robust strategy that protects the company against innovations from outside (new entrants or current competition) that they wouldn’t have seen coming in time.
Does it really work?
Yes, absolutely! Two examples are already well known in the aeronautic industry.
At SAFRAN, it was used to pilot a major innovation program aiming at rethinking helicopter engines (in French). More than thirty people were involved in building the future of the company. The team achieved fuel consumption gains 10 times greater than traditional gains obtained through the usual innovation processes.
THALES Group uses this method to drive innovation on “cockpits of the future”. Some cockpit demonstrators, well-known to the aeronautic world, have emerged from this work and are considered “the reference” in this field.
More broadly, the method is used by many other companies in various sectors to think about tomorrow’s logistic services, breakthrough packaging for mass-market retail, the future of mobility, future services in banking, etc.
Who can use it?
The Concept-Knowledge method can be applied at several levels of the company:
- At the management or innovation department level, in order to build an ambitious innovation strategy and keep ahead of the competition;
- At the project management level, to make a project more innovative and to pilot it effectively,
- At an engineering level, to propose innovative solutions.
Startups can also use it to disrupt an industry or prepare for future developments.
Is this for you?
Innovators may follow different ways. Either trust their intuition and hope to right every single time. Or use a proven method, offering them the opportunity to take control of the future of their projects or businesses.
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