Methodology

Adapt Existing Solutions, Don't Always Invent

One way to reduce risk is to leverage solutions that already have been deployed successfully elsewhere. Sometimes breakthrough results demand inventive solutions. Sometimes, however, success can be achieved more efficiently by borrowing ideas from others and creatively deploying these ideas in new systems and applications.

GEN3's Function-Oriented Search is a problem-solving tool that uses functional criteria to help identify existing technologies in leading areas of science and engineering. To successfully apply the tool, we begin by identifying the functions in the system that need to be improved. These specific functions are then translated into generalized functions that will become the targets of an external search.

But, where should we look?

The focus of Function-Oriented Search is on relevant industries or knowledge domains that face functionally similar challenges to the client's system. Typically, the most rewarding domains to explore are those industries where:

  • The function is absolutely critical to the survival of the industry, and/or
  • The function is subjected to much harsher conditions and requirements than in the client's system.

Under these conditions, there is a greater likelihood that investment already has been focused on solving this functional challenge.

What's next?

Typically, Function-Oriented Search produces a range of potential solutions, each with its own set of adaptation challenges. By stratifying solutions along two dimensions – potential efficacy of the technology and degree of difficulty to implement (time and resources) – we illuminate the choices available to the client in a way that facilitates decision making. Subsequent work is then focused on proof-of-principle activities that are mostly built around solving adaptation challenges.

And, the benefits?

Successfully deploying Function-Oriented Search enables the client to reach far outside its industry to identify enabling technologies that could be critical for unlocking breakthrough innovation. Further, it brings a double benefit of both increasing speed to market and lowering risk, as the technologies have already proven successful in other applications.

Read about our other core innovation processes and guiding principles.

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