CAD Manager's Newsletter (#476)8 Sep, 2021 By: Robert Green
Day-to-Day Innovation Offers Steady Benefits
Gradual, incremental innovation wins the day by giving users small changes that are easy to implement, plus increase efficiency.
Years ago, I noticed how often the words innovation and innovative showed up in software marketing. Like the “paradigm shift” or “productivity enhancement” buzz phrases before them, it seems that all the software companies want to talk about these days are their “innovative” solutions. This led me to examine what innovation really means and how I can best leverage it as a CAD manager to make my company better.
As CAD managers, is innovation really part of our job? Well, isn’t implementing new tools and unfamiliar workflows in a user community that’s set in their ways an act of innovation? My answer to this question is a resounding, “Yes!” In this edition of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll lay out strategies for using gradual, incremental innovation to boost your company’s CAD performance and your career prospects at the same time. Here goes.
Image source: klenger/stock.adobe.com.
Radical vs. Incremental Innovation
Most times when we hear about innovation, the implied meaning is big changes brought on by radical new tools or technologies. This “radical innovation” concept gets all the attention, yet radical innovation is almost impossible to actually implement. Do you think ditching 2D CAD for BIM 10 years ago was easy? Was being the first company to implement 3D printing easy? No way! Radical innovation is hard because of the following factors:
Big costs. Radical innovation often means new tools, new hardware, involved IT integration, and extensive research to achieve upper management approvals and funding.
Immature software. Radical new software tools are invariably full of functional gaps and bugs, and often require learning new customization tools. As an example, Autodesk purchased Revit in 2002, yet substantial adoption of BIM tools didn’t make any real progress for another 10 years. In fact, we’re still reading about barriers to BIM adoption today — nearly 20 years later.
Extensive workflow changes. Radical changes in tools cause changes in workflows which in turn requires lots of training and staff adaptation. Why? Because radical innovation makes you discard what you already know to implement something new that you don’t know — and that can be a very disruptive process.
Unknown disruptions. Radical innovation is an unknown, so the problems you’ll find are unknown as well. These problems can delay project execution and drive-up costs as you wade through the unknowns to find solutions.
What’s the conclusion on radical innovation? Simply that no CAD manager can drive radical innovation on their own because the risk of disrupting production and financial resources required can only be approved by those above us.
What CAD managers can execute is a more modest process that I like to call Gradual Incremental Innovation, which is cheaper, less risky, and within a CAD manager’s span of control. Let’s explore.
Applying Incremental Innovation
As a CAD manager, I know that my management team expects me to accomplish the following key objectives:
So, my question now becomes: “What new tools, techniques, training sessions, and workflows do I have the authority to implement that can help me meet these objectives?” Please note my emphasis on having the authority to implement your innovations — otherwise you’ll be stuck waiting for upper management’s approval.
The answer to the questions I posed above will form the basis of your incremental innovation plan. The plan will use innovative solutions to known problems that will be incrementally applied, as time permits.
Read more for Robert Green's three-step process for mapping out an incremental innovation plan, plus how to get users excited about the plan and follow it.Read more »
Tools and Resources
VIRTUAL EVENT: 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM 2021
Plenary Session: September 9, 1pm EST
Metal Parts Software
WEBINAR: CIMDATA: Complex Products are Safer with PLM and Digital Twins
VIRTUAL CONFERENCE: HxGN LIVE Design & Engineering
What's New from Our Sponsors
What Will AEC Offices Look Like Post-COVID-19?
Is your company ready to get back to the office or are you ready for something different? Read more »
What's New at Cadalyst.com
Data Collection Steps Up for AEC
Herrera on Hardware:
CAD Programming: Intro for 2021
About the Author: Robert Green
For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX. Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!
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