Posts Tagged ‘Innovation’

24 September, 2009

The cover story in BusinessWeek’s September 7th edition was titled “The Radical Future of R&D”. One of the articles in this edition was about science and job creation, “How Science Can Create Millions of New Jobs”.

The premise of this article is that the overall innovation pipeline is faltering. This is mostly due to corporate under-investment and short term needs for capital gains on R&D activities. In short, companies have moved costly or volume production to low cost areas and for the past two decades there has not been anything to really fill the void. So, the assumption of this article is that a renewed, intense investment in science needs to happen for major job creation to happen to cope with current unemployment, projected population growth, and urbanization.

If you think about it (although conventional logic would say different ) when was the last BIG thing? The last big driver that caused a shift in the economy was the spread of the  internet in the mid-90s. There was another article a few months back, also in BusinessWeek, called “Innovation, Interrupted” that examines the actual lack of innovation over the past decade.

The article talks about accelerating innovation and the author’s own recommendations for venture capitalists, government, industry, and academic roles in these efforts. The idea of accelerating innovation is compelling.

You can argue that a w0rld where you have to report on return on investment at quarterly intervals may limit risk and innovation. Conversely, you can argue that in order to innovate profitably, you need to quickly identify that single, viable idea, and accelerate its introduction to market. On an earlier blog I suggested that the “Edison model” of innovation may not be the ideal anymore – we can’t fail a thousand times before we succeed, we need to decide quickly on the ONE idea and bring it to market as quickly as possible.

In terms of PCB development, we can measure success both by bottom line (cost, time) and top line. Top line represents opportunity. If we can enable accelerated time-to-market, not only are we enabling better premiums in the marketplace but we are also enabling more time to innovate for current and future projects.

I invite all of you to visit the re-designed multimedia section on mentor.com for PCB. There you will see customer testimonials, on-line demos, and on-demand webinars. We fully believe that we are enablers of a radical (and better) future of R&D and product development.

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11 June, 2009

I was reading an article in EE Times about Thomas Edison and Innovation in April, and I began noticing that there has been lots of talk about Edison and his drive to innovation and that many of his methods should be deployed today. It got me thinking, is the Edison approach really applicable to today’s world?

Thomas Edison was a major engineering icon and exemplifies the best in innovation, risk-taking, inventiveness, and perseverance. This is a man whose legacy will span time from both his inventions through his founding of General Electric, the industrial powerhouse. Thomas Edison represents the best in the American entrepreneurial spirit.

However,  I do think, in light of today’s hyper-competitive world the quote attributed to Edison’s methodology about making 10,000 mistakes is not completely accurate for today’s process of innovation. Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

I think in today’s world we should say that we have 10,000 ideas that we rejected and focused on just one good idea to bring to market as quickly as possible.

Obsolescence is a huge issue in the electronics industry, today’s hot product is quickly eclipsed. As PCB developers we focus on that one good idea and get it developed in an efficient and productive way that allows us to take full advantage of market opportunities. We need tools and technologies that facilitate this process of innovation.

We, at Mentor Graphics, like to think of ourselves as “enablers” – we enable you to push the process of innovation forward. One area we do this in PCB is through multi-designer simultaneous layout with our Xtreme PCB and Auto Routing solutions. This enables multiple designers in distributed teams and geographies to simultaneously layout and route PCBs.  The result is significant cycle time reduction for layout and routing. Peter Dill, Sr Engineer of IBM Laboratories in Zurich was a winner of the 2007 Technology Leadership Awards. The board was highly complex and time constraints during routing risked or eliminated the ability to test.  By enabling a multi-designer approach, Dill and his team were able to go from 3 days for a pass to 7 hours. Another example was Alcatel Shanghai Bell reducing layout time by 60%.

So, enabling innovation is really what our jobs are about. The speed of change is getting faster. What is new today will be obsolete tomorrow. We don’t have time to make 10,000 mistakes. I think we need to quickly identify the one out of 10,000 ideas and get that idea developed and move on to the next innovation. Being able to connect a team is one piece of the puzzle.

Stay tuned, this blog will look at other ways we can facilitate the process of innovation.

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