The IPC/EIPC Roadshow: Design for Excellence and “Creovation”

by: Cheryl Tulkoff, CRE, DfR Solutions

While it ran, I absolutely loved reading Lucy Kellaway’s fictional Martin Lukes column in the Financial Times. “Creovation,” a combination of creativity and innovation, was one of many great buzzwords Lukes invented that unwittingly mocked management practices in industry. Even though it’s been years since the column ran, that word has stuck with me.

When people think of innovation, they frequently think of the “big idea” or product while overlooking the fact that innovation is really a process. They think of innovation solely in the creative sense rather than considering the importance or even existence of an innovation methodology. Countless examples exist of good products that never succeeded in the marketplace or failed to live up to expectations while lesser ones thrived. Many of these failures could have been eliminated through use of a creovation process.

A true innovation has two core elements. The innovation itself must be both something that is different and something that adds value. It is not enough simply to be new. The goal of the innovation process is to create value and minimize failure by truly understanding the customer and markets and by not creating a solution in search of a problem. So how does this tie into Design for Excellence (DFX)?

Good design is first and foremost a creative process. How an idea gets translated into an actual solution for a customer is a true engineering challenge. The electronics industry is fortunate to have resources like IPC that provides guidelines that enable meeting the functional challenge while also meeting cost and production challenges. Remember, it’s not enough to be newer or better if the product isn’t affordable or reliable. Combining the creation and innovation (creovation again!) processes is critical for commercial success.

blogDFX considers all aspects of design relevant to the total product lifecycle. Since so many critical decisions are made early in the design phase, DFX can also be described as the process of assessing these issues beyond the base functionality before physical prototypes are even made. Base functionality is simply meeting the customer expectations for function, cost and size. The other lifecycle issues include manufacturability, reliability, testability, sourcing and environment. These are the issues that keep products thriving for the long term and they lend themselves well to innovation process.

The IPC 1-14 DFX Standards Subcommittee has made great progress in developing a new DFX standard to successfully guide companies from design to market. Accompanying that effort is an educational outreach program that’s going worldwide. Please join me as I provide information of DFR, DFM and DFX in IPC/EIPC June Summer Workshop Roadshow!

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