A methodology for radical innovation : illustrated by application to a radical civil engineering structure
Van Dyk, Cobus
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Radical, far-beyond-the-norm innovation engages unknown developmental frontiers outside the familiar fields of standardised practice, requiring new and broad perspectives. This implies significant uncertainty during problem solution – the more radical, the greater the uncertainty. No systematic procedures for managing radical innovation exist. Research managers agree that traditional, standardised innovation approaches do not provide sufficient support for managers to cope with the degree of functional uncertainty typical of radical innovations. An efficient approach for delimiting and describing its uncertainties and managing the development process during the radical innovation process is sought. This thesis synthesizes a methodology for radical innovation from Systems Engineering and Management of Technology theory. Its application in a case study illustrates how it facilitates efficient strategic decision-making during radical innovation. Systems Engineering, by its comprehensive perspective, provides a valuable non-intuitive framework from which required radical innovation functionalities and uncertainties are identified, delimited, characterised and developed. Management of Technology concerns the core theory of technology; its perspective on technology provides the radical innovation process with a means of characterising and delimiting status, potential and uncertainty of functional, technological elements in the system. The resulting Radical Innovation Methodology is verified through application to an emerging renewable energy concept, the Solar Chimney Power Plant, which responds to a demand for innovation aimed at sustainable energy generation. The radically tall chimney structure required by the plant, proposed to stand 1,500 meter tall, serves as a fitting case for illustrating the methodology. Addressing and solving of challenges and uncertainties related to the radically tall structure and associated costs are required toward competence of this concept in a global energy market.