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[ 1] Shewhart, W.
Statistical Method from
the Viewpoint of Quality
D.C.: Graduate School
of the Department of
January + February 2008
For the past few years, innovation
has been a big topic in conversation about business management.
A small industry fuels that conversation with articles, books,
Designers, too, are involved.
Prominent product-design firms
offer workshops and other services promising innovation. Leading
design schools promote “design
thinking” as a path to innovation.
But despite all the conversation, there is little consensus on
what innovation is and how to
The current conversation about
innovation is similar to an earlier
conversation about quality. As
recently as the late 1980s, quality was something businesses
actively sought but had trouble
defining. Today, statistical pro-
cess control, TQM, Kaizen, and
Six-Sigma management are common tools in businesses around
As businesses have become
good at managing quality, quality
has become a sort of commodity—“table stakes,” necessary but
not sufficient to ensure success.
When everyone offers quality,
quality no longer stands out.
Businesses must look elsewhere
for differentiation. The next
arena for competition has become
The question is: Can innovation be “tamed,” as quality was?
A key step in taming quality
was proposed by Walter Shewhart
and Edward Deming’s process
model [ 1]. Their quality cycle
is now widely taught and has
become an important part of the
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A Model of Innovation, March 2007. Dubberly Design Office prepared this 27-by-38-
inch concept map as a project of the Institute for Creative Process at the Alberta College
of Art and Design (ACAD). Written and designed by Hugh Dubberly, Nathan Felde, and
Paul Pangaro, additional design by Sean Durham and Ryan Reposar. Research by Satoko
Kakihara and ACAD faculty Chris Frey, Wayne Giles, and Darlene Lee.
The model is a direct product of interactions among the team, but it is also the indirect
product of interactions with several others who shared their insights with the authors,
including Robin Bahr, Chris Conley, Peter Esmonde, Shelley Evenson, Michael Geoghegan,
Fred Murrell, and Rick Robinson.
To download Hugh’s model as a full-size, printable PDF file, please visit: