Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oliver's Garage

Here is an engaging, true story involving an eleven year old boy, a set of Lego bricks, three garages, and an innovation process. The story illustrates how, using P-TRIZ, any business process can be improved, yielding an ideal design.

We recently had our car vandalized while it was parked outside of our home. Our kids were upset, so we tried to turn a negative experience into positive learning. I asked my son Oliver, then eleven years old, to design a system that would help to protect the car from future attack. Being a boy of a certain age, he dreamt up a rather sophisticated solution, and, of course, went on to build a model of it using his extensive collection of Lego bricks. His solution consisted of a variety of deadly weapons and other military grade equipment, including laser cannons, infrared detectors commandoes, and helicopters. It was a very exciting design.

Oliver was pleased with his solution, but I felt he could do better if he used the theories of innovation. So I asked him a simple question. “Oliver,” I asked, “What are the useful and harmful features of your solution?”

Download a PDF (22 pages) for the full story and pictures of Oliver's Garage.

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