Recently, I was a part of Systematic Creativity and TRIZ Basics online class presented by professor Leonid Chechurin from LUT. One of the first questions in the class was to give our own definition of the difference between the invention and optimization. I found it quite interesting especially given the fact that I never thought of that. The result of my reflections are below.
Optimization – gradual change of an existing system, process or solution by upgrading or downgrading existing properties to a new optimum or, in other words, to a new expected outcome. Thus, optimization is the process of reaching a new optimum or a new balance of interests.
Invention is the process of reaching another level of novelty. Invention is a gradual or radical change of the existing solution by adding, upgrading or downgrading the existing properties until a new nonexistent level of problem resolution is found. Novelty is the distinguishing factor between these two.
These processes are different, thus, call for different mindset, expected result and tools.
What would you say about this definitions? How do you define optimization and invention?
No matter what sweet marketing reasoning says (Levitt, Kotler and alike), firms do not seek a customer per se, as a human, for who customer is with his life, troubles and routine to help him (see profound discussion by Fromm 1994). These issues are left to government backed social care and church at the best. See how many customer needs are ready to be met around the globe and too few companies ready to meet them because there is no financial interest – the customer needs need to match companies’ goals. Firms seek a customer that will buy their product. It is not the customer needs that company aims to meet. Contrary, it is company goals a firm aims to meet by addressing dehumanized customer demands (Fromm 1994). In such context, customer need is of any interest as long as they allow gain opportunities. Just as companies are not interested in customers per se, customers are equally interested in companies only for the reason of a product. The correct stress and priorities changes the tune; it scatters marketing tinsel away leaving crude reality.
And the reality is plain: companies sell products, be that goods, services, know-how, even when they are dreams. Product is the finite outcome of organization’s existence. The transfer of value from firm to customer and from customer to a firm is the blood that runs through the veins of economy. All activities of a firm directly or indirectly support the goal of facilitating transaction of values – money for product. No transfer – no customer. It is “Capitalism 101.” The role of marketing is to convince the fool to trade – the rest is lyrics.
Fromm, E. (1994). Escape from Freedom (repring, r). Henry Holt and Company.