Innovation - Not Just Another Buzz Word
Innovation - Not Just Another Buzz Word
When Dick Tracy spoke into his wristwatch or when Captain Kirk summoned Scotty to beam him up, the dream devices seemed to be another sci-fi fantasy prop – inconceivable. Everyone reading this article today uses a cell phone quite similar to Star Trek’s personal communicator and could afford the latest wristwatch phone complete with GPS if they wanted! In fact, you could be reading this article on your PDA, cell phone or computer hybrid device. Innovative indeed.
When digital impressions, virtual models and laser sintered CAD/CAM becomes like the cell phones we could not live without now, we will have experienced an innovation that may revolutionize the custom manufacturing processes of today’s dental laboratories. Material and product innovations such as Eclipse, Empress, Procera and the like have already had a profound impact. Digital ovens, induction casting machines, computers and a host of other equipment innovations have helped enable our businesses to sustain viability and drive down the cost of improved quality.
Local delivery, city wide delivery services, next day air and now instant Internet transference of CAD or digital photos continue to alter our business landscape. Our world has gotten smaller and innovations will continue to modify the way we think, act, live, work and play. Let’s look at the innovative process itself from a distance and come to understand how these changes have come about and how they will continue to develop.
Innovation requires resources, infrastructure, a culture and process. These combine in a non-linear continuum of time that moves from raw ideas through concepts and finally yields an invention or innovation that can be implemented and commercialized. Some innovations are incremental and involve the refinement or enhancement of previous products processes or services. Others, are new or breakthroughs. Innovation is unlikely to occur without freethinking, risk taking and a long-range focus. Then there is a culture that nurtures innovation. At DTI, we are always looking at and evaluating these innovations to assess their appropriateness to our mission, vision and values. Also, we look at innovations that can affect the relationship and engagement of our customers and vendor partners. In his 2002 book Innovation by Design Gerard Gayner defines the culture, process and infrastructure of innovation that can help sustain the viability even as competition arises from new geographic areas and unknown markets.
That, my friends, is my point in writing this edition of Murphy’s Law. I want our industry to be able to think objectively and unemotionally about the future of our profession and then prepare and redefine it appropriately through innovation.
We still listen to music in several forms and styles (jazz, rock, classic etc.), but the reel-to-reel recorders have given way to albums, 8 track tapes, cassettes, CDs and now MP3s. Yet during this same time the number of people exposing themselves to the live versions of those tunes at venues throughout North America has steadily grown year after year. Music still exists, the notes and chords persist, it is the delivery form that has been innovated.
The concerts are very different now than when I saw the Beatles in 1965 at Olympia Stadium in Detroit (9 years old at the time, imagine). The Fab Four just stood there and played their instruments. Now, the costuming, lighting, lasers, pyrotechnics and computer-driven special effects sometimes overshadow the act. In the end, we (the audience) are drawn in more to the event than ever before, more emotionally involved, more engaged.
The strengthening of the engagement of our customer dentists into the experience of working with a partner Certified Dental Laboratory is an innovation whose time has come. Certify, befriend and engage your doctor clients in a way that makes you indispensable to their success. If we do, our ‘live’ concerts will always be a part of their success and relationships – regardless of how the inventions and innovations modify the delivery systems. They will turn to us for advice and counsel. They will see us as an integral member of their dental team. They will be better for it, we too will win and the patient care will be the best ever.
We are the voice. Rise up and speak out.