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Tools for Innovation: Lateral Benchmarking . Jonathan Weaver UDM Mechanical Engineering Department [email protected] References. Lateral benchmarking or ... what Formula One taught an airline . Murdoch, Adrian , Management Today, 11/01/1997

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tools for innovation lateral benchmarking

Tools for Innovation:Lateral Benchmarking

Jonathan Weaver

UDM Mechanical Engineering Department

[email protected]

  • Lateral benchmarking or ... what Formula One taught an airline. Murdoch, Adrian , Management Today, 11/01/1997
  • Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step, Edward de Bono, ISBN 0-06-090325-2.
i am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity not to know what can t be done
"I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity not to know what can\'t be done."
  • Henry Ford (1863-1947) was an American inventor and industrialist who founded the Ford Motor Company. He was the father of modern assembly lines and mass production. Ford\'s introduction of the Model T revolutionized transportation. During his lifetime, Ford was awarded 161 U.S. patents.
  • Editor\'s Note: An infinite capacity not to know what can\'t be done. Imagine putting that in an employment ad today! And yet, it is that innocence, passion and vision that made Henry Ford one of the greatest inventors and business innovators of the past century. [Cont. next slide]

Imagine our surprise on an inventive excursion this weekend to discover that weavers in the 1800s used a device, looking suspiciously like a computer punch card on looms to weave a variety of colors into patterns. The binary system used on these old-fashioned looms is basically the same one employed in computer science!

  • Henry Ford had an uncanny ability to envision how parts and systems used in one profession or field, could be used in another with only minor adaptation. He unabashedly borrowed from the meat packing industry as well as the inventions of Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and a host of others.
  • Don\'t overlook simple processes and tools from the past and those from other fields when you set out to create something new. Every new idea has a springboard, and some of the best ones come not from the complicated inventions of the 21st Century, but the simple ones of the past where the function is clear.
  • Sue McPhail, APR, President, Ideaology; Innovation Quote DuJour 20090915
southwest airlines refueling
Southwest Airlines Refueling

“Dallas-based Southwest Airlines used to have a problem. Most of its aircraft were on the ground between flights for an average of 40 - expensive - minutes. Although it had benchmarked its refueling processes against other airlines, it found it was already one of the leaders. Some sort of quantum leap for improvement was needed, so it looked outside the airline industry for the most efficient refuelers in the world - Formula One racing. Adopting the turnaround processes used during pit stops, Southwest Airlines can now refuel an aeroplane in 12 minutes.”

Lateral benchmarking or ... what Formula One taught an

airline. Murdoch, Adrian , Management Today, 11/01/1997

what is lateral benchmarking
What is Lateral Benchmarking?
  • Benchmarking is a process in which organizations evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice, usually within their own sector
  • Lateral benchmarking involves looking outsideyour industry for inspiration and ideas which can be adapted to your products and services
  • Lateral benchmarking provides a low-risk way to innovate while still providing features considered innovative by the customer since the competing products lack them
what is lateral benchmarking cont
What is Lateral Benchmarking? (Cont.)
  • Vertical vs lateral thinking
    • In more typical vertical thinking, one explores the design space until any potentially promising solution emerges, then proceeds to vertically and refine that concept as much as necessary as to beat it into acceptance
    • In lateral thinking, one first explores the design space laterally as far as possible, putting as many conceivable solutions on the table as possible, before further exploring (vertically) the more promising of those solutions
  • Lateral benchmarking can be thought of as a tool to focus your lateral thinking
some examples
Some Examples
  • Bicycle disc brakes borrowed from auto industry
  • Studying showers to improve clothes washing machine (eliminating agitator and sprinkling from the top) (Calypso)
  • Auto interior designers studying office chairs, child seats, beds, etc.
  • Heated cupholders in 2007 Chrysler Sebring
  • IDEO studying pit crews to improve emergency room design
note to other users
Note to Other Users
  • Obviously there isn’t much meat here yet; if anyone has some ideas of what to add (in particular, examples), please pass them along!