THE INNOVATIVE POWER OF CRITICISM

Category: LTM News
March 25, 2016

New materials take long to go from research to reality. Also, they are usually over-specified on some properties, and under-specified on others. Following the traditional approach, opportunities for innovation are easily missed. Design-driven materials innovation promises a better way: by involving designers early in the material development process, and by developing material and application in parallel, new meanings of radically new materials can be explored.

One of the fundamental aspects of the LTM Project was to set up its own stream of methodological research, led by Politecnico di Milano. Initial findings point at the power of iteration, the importance of samples and exploring by doing, and the crucial role of integration and manufacture.

Roberto Verganti, senior researcher at Politecnico di Milano, recently published an interesting article on Harvard Business Review on how a design-driven approach and a critical stance favor innovation from the beginning of product development:  

"We live in a world awash of opportunities. Thanks to the web, to globalization and to approaches such as open innovation, design thinking, or crowdsourcing, organizations easily have access to an unprecedented amount of ideas. The most difficult thing in this context, is to understand which direction to go. Often, the right ideas are even already in front of our eyes, but we recognize only those that support an old path. What we need, to recognize breakthrough directions, is not to generate one more idea, but to change our lenses. How?  Through the art of criticism. The art of criticism enables us to explicitly question existing assumptions and turn them into a bold new interpretation. Taking a critical stance does not imply being negative, but going deeper, searching for contrasts between different perspectives, creating tensions, looking from a new vantage point, reshuffling things to find a new order. The article describes how to practice the art of criticism through cases and methods, such as working with a sparring partner, or clashing visions within radical circles." 

Read the full article here.


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