What is Your Contradiction?

by David Quimby | at MinneBar 14 | 9:25 – 10:10 in Tackle | View Schedule

Start with a contradiction. If you plan to invest several years of your precious time in a product / service opportunity that doesn't solve a contradiction, keep looking. If you are pursuing a product or service innovation and you aren't planning on a multi-year commitment, keep looking. Whether you're in a small enterprise or a large enterprise -- find an opportunity that is worth a multi-year commitment.

A contradiction is two opposing forces or dimensions that apparently can't be improved simultaneously. We usually optimize across contradictions instead of solving them -- by increasing one variable while decreasing the other variable. Optimization is not the same as resolution. Optimization produces incremental innovation; resolution produces radical / disruptive innovation. Optimization can be a distraction from discovering significant, long-term product / service value.

Many innovations improve one variable in isolation. Some innovations even improve two variables -- although the two variables are not inherently in conflict with each other, and they may even be un-related. Incremental innovation. Improve two variables that are inherently in conflict with each other. Radical / disruptive innovation.

Solving a contradiction addresses the two critical elements of a viable business model: Customer value (delivering two dimensions that previously required a compromise) and competitive advantage (delivering customer value that the competition has not discovered and / or is not equipped to deliver).

This approach is a variant of a broad domain that is known as systematic innovation. I will describe the basic model of systematic innovation. I will describe how the systematic approach is more effective than un-systematic approaches. I will describe how this particular systematic approach is more effective than other systematic approaches -- it solves a contradiction among systematic approaches!

I will describe how prominent innovators have used this approach to disrupt entire eco-systems in medical technology and information technology. I will describe how I used this approach to discover a Web middleware innovation that is currently generating a healthy royalty stream. We may even explore an application or two on the fly if you want to iterate some ideas.

Join me as we discover product / service value with systematic innovation. If you haven't discovered a contradiction that you can solve -- keep looking!

David Quimby

I am a principal at Innovation Radiation, where I practice systematic innovation, experimental design, and technology forecasting. I solved a contradiction early in the 21st century. I am a patented inventor in Web architecture. I collaborated with Doug Engelbart, the inventor of the graphical user interface (GUI), at Stanford Research Institute. I have assimilated into organizational life in realms such as Deloitte Consulting, Best Buy, and Bank of America; while I appreciate the benefits of organizational alignment, I've found that I flourish beyond the constraints of conventional organizational boundaries.

I am a co-founder of Minnesota Change Management Network. I earned a master’s degree in organizational behavior and socio-technical systems at UC / Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics and developmental economics at UCLA. I've climbed Mt. Whitney; I've done trekking in Thailand, a photographic safari in Kenya, and sea kayaking in Alaska; I've traversed the U.S. and Canada by motorcycle. I've also expanded my cultural horizons with extensive travel in Europe, South America, and Australia.