Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How An "Impossible" Aviation Challenge Led To An Innovation Breakthrough

How An "Impossible" Aviation Challenge Led To An Innovation Breakthrough "On June 13, an enormous, ridiculous-looking pedal-powered contraption wafted itself into midair and made history. The helicopter, called Atlas, was designed to win an aviation challenge--the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition--that had defeated scores of aircraft designers and engineers for 33 years. The task sounds simple: Create a human-powered aircraft that can hover three meters in the air for at least a minute without drifting outside a 10-meter square. But satisfying those constraints meant designing an aircraft like nothing you’ve ever seen:"

"This kind of innovation strategy often goes by clichéd names like "lateral thinking" or "thinking outside the box." But according to Robertson, "the box" was actually the key to succeeding where 33 years’ worth of other designs had failed. Atlas won the Sikorsky prize by zeroing in on the right box to think inside--and then rigorously, intensely, and persistently analyzing it. "Achieving the so-called 'impossible,'" he says, "is a matter of removing unnecessary constraints, and understanding what’s in the box.""

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