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Product And Process Design And Delivery: Invention Through To Innovation

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

EM Skills and Real World Concepts

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1019.1 - 10.1019.5

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Paper Authors

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Stanton Cort

author page

Gary Wnek

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Product and Process Design and Delivery: Invention Through to Innovation

Gary E. Wnek1 and Stanton G. Cort2 1 Department of Chemical Engineering 2 Department of Marketing and Policy Studies The Institute for Management and Engineering (TiME) Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio 44106


Many product/process design courses, including ours, focus heavily on ideas like the stage-gate and quality function deployment as their conceptual foundation. It is clear that effective realization of innovation depends heavily on creative and rigorous generation and capture into the innovation of many very early and sometimes ill-defined ideas, sometimes referred to as the fuzzy front end. Despite its importance, however, this critical first step receives scant treatment in most product/process design curricula. We suggest that this early, inventive stage merits considerable attention, and believe that tools exist (e.g., TRIZ) to demonstrate how early, ill-defined ideas can be injected quickly and rigorously into the innovation management process. Our presentation will outline approaches to consider invention through to innovation as an important perspective of product/process design and delivery strategies.


The National Innovation Initiative defines innovation as ‘the intersection of invention and insight, leading to the creation of social and economic value.’1 Innovation is a national priority, central to economic growth in an increasingly fast-paced and global environment. The process of innovation begins with invention, and is only realized when a market develops. As noted in the 75th anniversary issue of Business Week, 2 innovation (1) can be taught, (2) can be managed, and (3) can be spurred. The same BW issue states that ‘inspiration is fine, but above all, innovation is really a management process.” Indeed, it is a topic not only critical to industry but also worthy of academic pursuit in both teaching and research, and sits squarely at the intersection of engineering and management. We suggest that the early-stage process of invention be appreciated in similar terms. If commercially profitable inventions are low probability occurrences, the innovation process must capture into its initial analysis as many ideas as possible. Since effective invention can also benefit from and requires both support of senior manager and effective management of people and resources, when the invention idea enters the culling process it must be in a form that operations, marketing, financial and other managers can understand. However, this critical definition and structuring process is typically not emphasized, at least in coursework. This may be because creating initial, business-

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Cort, S., & Wnek, G. (2005, June), Product And Process Design And Delivery: Invention Through To Innovation Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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