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How expert engineering teams use disciplines of innovation

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Petre, M. (2004). How expert engineering teams use disciplines of innovation. Design Studies, 25 (5), 477 – 493. (Design Studies Award for Best Paper in 2004.)

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Original abstract: Innovation happens deliberately more often than it does by inspiration. This paper describes disciplines applied by effective multi-disciplinary engineering firms in nurturing innovation in order to produce intellectual property in a variety of domains, from telecommunications to medical instruments. The report arises from a series of in situ observations and interviews in 12 engineering consultancies in the UK and US over 2 years. It describes strategies that expert designers use to ‘get out of the box’ of familiar thinking, to identify gaps in existing products, and to go beyond ‘satisficing’. It describes the supportive engineering culture in which these strategies are embedded. Finally, it identifies the characteristics which distinguish the highest-performing teams.

Rubric for the reading group: Everyone attending is expected to read the paper in advance. Please bring a copy with you, preferably annotated with interesting reflections. The format of discussion will be a brief invited introduction/critique by two members of the group, followed by general discussion and informal mixing.

This talk is part of the Crucible/Microsoft HCI Reading Group series.

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