The fat man walks slow – Innovation EWMD Lisbon Conference

By 18. November 2008 No Comments

The resume of the 24th EWMD International Conference in Lisbon is not surprising or new: It takes more than two for Tango and more than three for an innovation. As we have seen, most of the inventors and entrepreneurs are charismatic and visionary people with a lot of power and energy to survive the first obstacles.Innovation is driven by individuals with all their power, passion and will – but to make them a real success, it needs a financer (bank, company, investor), the expert (researchers, R&D labs and teams) and the absorbing customer who has a need and the money to buy. As Claudia Schmitz, President of EWMD International, showed in four historical examples: If there is no need – there is no idea to solution. Most of the inventors had the need or a desire to solve a problem:  New York Activist Margaret Sanger was the driving force behind “The Pill” which came to market in 1960, Marion Donovan developed the Nappies and later called Pampas in 1951, Josephine Cochrane designed and build the first Dishwasher in 1886 and Hedy Lamarr, the actress from Vienna, invented the technical basis for the mobile phone with her “Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum”. Her need though was different as she invented it for the US-Army to stop the torpedoes from Nazi Germany in the 40ies, but was ignored and forgotten till the industry used the patent later in the 80ies.

As Prof. Soumodip Sarkar pointed out in his Key note speech: “Only 10 % of all innovations are Radical Innovations. Most of the Innovations are incremental, that means an ongoing development of existing products and processes to a better result or use.” He made clear that innovation has more to do with failures than with success. If there is no desire to find the solution, 5.127 failures in prototypes will not be made, as reported from the inventor Dyson for his “Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner” in 1983. Most inventors have a long CV of failures. Sarkar pointed out that all innovation has to do with the sense of business: survival and growth. If you do not adapt to the environment, change constantly, you will not survive. So this is the driving force – and – if companies and people are too much in their comfort zone, they will just sit and eat. “The fat man walks slow” was the key message to speed and culture and an answer to the question: Why is it so difficult to innovate in the large cooperations?.

Dr. Kaus Rischka is a chemist and does research on Bionics to find the perfect glue for human repairs like broken legs and new teeth. His experience of researching at Fraunhofer in Bremen was easy and clear: You need a lot of personal contacts, of opportunities to talk about your ideas, to get in contact with experts of different disciplines in order to find partners you need. You need to get out of your laboratories and learn the language of your future disciplinary partners. It is all about communication, networking and understanding.This way he found the missing links: the medical partner, the industrial partner and the financial partner.

The other speakers had also very interesting subjects and personal experience to share. The text and pdf will be uploaded on the web-page of /events soon.

The pre-workshop about Intersection Innovation by Waltraut Ritter from Hong Kong was given at the Business School in Lisbon and introduced the participants to the intersection of Franz Johansson, who wrote the book: The Medici Effect – now free to download from his web page. Celemi – the specialist of dialogue learning – used the book as the basic to the discussion about innovation in companies. Most of the Dialogue is about your belief system and culture in the company and starts questioning about how we think and create the new.

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