Trial & Error Methods in Innovation & Continuous Process Improvement

Trial & Error Methods in Innovation & Continuous Process Improvement
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  • 0:05 Innovation for Improvement
  • 1:06 Trial & Error
  • 2:18 The Cycle
  • 4:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Innovation helps drive continuous improvement in business, and one way to promote innovation is through trial and error. In this lesson, we'll examine the trial and error method for innovation and continuous process improvement.

Innovation for Improvement

Felicia owns a business that creates outdoor gear for hikers and campers. They've done really well and captured most of their target market, so many people would relax and enjoy success. But not Felicia! She's not satisfied with what her company has done. She wants them to make even better products and continue to grow and improve their processes.

What Felicia is thinking about is continuous improvement, which is the process of actively trying to increase efficiency and achievement. It's a key driver of business growth.

How can a company like Felicia's continually improve? A core tool for improvement involves finding new solutions to problems, a process known as innovation. For example, if Felicia wants her designers to create a new and better backpack for hikers, she'll want them to try new things. That is, she'll want them to innovate.

To help Felicia understand how to create a culture of innovation and continuous improvement at her company, let's take a look at one specific method of innovation: trial and error.

Trial & Error

Felicia doesn't just make gear for hikers, she loves to hike. She knows that sometimes while hiking, things go wrong. Maybe a trail is closed, or you take a wrong turn. Sometimes, you aren't sure which way to go. In those cases, Felicia knows, you have to try different things and see which one works. Try going one way and if the trail becomes impassable, modify your route and try a new one.

When Felicia tries new things on her hike, she is engaging in trial and error, a type of problem-solving that focuses on trying out new things and learning from them. Trial and error can also be thought of as a type of experimentation where you're testing new ideas and solutions.

Hiking isn't the only place trial and error works. Trial and error can drive innovation in business as well. Take Felicia's goal to design a new backpack. Her designers might want to try out a different material that's lighter weight and see if it holds up to hiking. If it doesn't, they'll have to modify their plans. Just like with Felicia's hike, they'll be using trial and error in their design process.

Thus, trial and error is a valuable method for business. Not only does it promote innovation, but it also allows businesses to try new things and discover what works and what doesn't.

The Cycle

Felicia thinks that trial and error sounds like a great idea for her company. But how does she get her employees to do it? Is there a formal process for trial and error? Well, trial and error is really a cycle. It involves four stages that feed into each other. They are:

1. Define and Design

During the first stage, it's important to define the problem you're trying to solve and conceive of and design a solution. For example, Felicia's designers want to make their backpacks lighter because it's easier to hike while carrying less weight. They decide to try a new material that's lighter weight.

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