Cross Industry Innovation

For many of the challenges companies are facing, elegant solutions already exist in other industries. Often, however, these are not included in their own idea generation. One statement we often hear is: “What can I learn from a completely different industry?” Yet it is precisely these ideas that are often the key to great innovations, or more precisely, most new products are combinations of already existing information. Technologies, application principles, products or even complete business models can be combined. The basic rule is: A new idea is more of a discovery than an invention.

There are many examples of successful cross-industry innovations:

  • BMW’s iDrive is based on the idea of the joystick from the computer industry
  • the Coca Cola freestyle drink vending machine uses medical technology dosing technology
  • the Nespresso Aeroccino milk foamer uses the magnetic drive principle of laboratory mixers
  • the Nike Shox shock absorber is technologically derived from Formula 1 shock absorbers
  • the presser foot of the textile machine manufacturer Bernina uses the optical sensor of a computer mouse
  • Beiersdorf’s Niveo deodorant “Black & White” uses a substance found in car washes

How can cross-industry innovation be implemented?
With the Model Concept – Combine – Create.

Concept (Why)

In the first step we bring the problem to a higher level of abstraction. Here questions like: What exactly is the problem? What other questions arise from this?

Let’s take the example of BMW iDive: What is the problem? The use of a screen in a car significantly increases the driver’s options. However, a complex key combination (as has been the case until now) distracts the driver from the traffic. What alternative control options are available?

Combine (What If)

In a second step we look for similar problems and possible solutions in other industries. Example: In what other situations is manual operation used that does not require special attention but controls complex processes – Answer: The gaming industry. Here the joystick is used to operate computer games.

Create (How)

In the third step, as much information as possible about the combination concept is sought and the findings applied to the company’s own products. Example: How exactly does the control of joysticks work? Are there different methods? Which materials are used?

The application of these three steps provides exciting new ideas, even though the individual steps can of course take a long time.

Now it’s your turn: What do interesting combinations for your questions look like?

With inspiring greetings,
Christian Buchholz

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