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What is Your Contradiction?

by David Quimby | 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 mathematical economist and systems analyst. I have rotated through various cycles at the extremes of large enterprise and small enterprise as a technology executive and a software entrepreneur. My expertise includes knowledge management, technology forecasting, and systematic innovation; I am also a thought leader in the application of systems engineering to organizational design.

I have conducted business process re-engineering (BPR) in the large-enterprise domain and I have led large-scale technical integration in the context of mergers and acquisitions. I am a co-founder of Minnesota Change Management Network (MNCMN); I have presented to professional communities on various topics around data science, product management, business architecture, and systems engineering. I am a patented inventor in the user experience and Web middleware domain; I collaborated with Doug Engelbart, the inventor of the graphical user interface (GUI), at Stanford Research Institute.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics and developmental economics at UCLA and a master’s degree in organizational behavior and socio-technical systems at UC - Berkeley.


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