We love pasta. We love to design things, and I love metaphors. But pasta as a metaphor for the design process and innovation?? Common is the phrase about throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it’s done and thus sticks; so maybe the metaphor is germane. A design process, like spaghetti, ultimately must determine if the design is done and indeed if it “sticks”. So on goes a kettle of water and we’ll start cooking.
At Therafin we follow a Process of Design that consists of six major steps.
Define, Design, Evaluate, Prepare, Produce, Sell. Here is where the pasta comes in.
1. Define Step.
What are you going to make? If you don’t know then you likely won’t get pasta! So you have to set some requirements, sometimes specific like exact pasta shape and type, or sometimes looser like; I just want some pasta! Either way you have to have a direction and a reason to start.
2. Design Step.
Time to give this pasta some form! We begin with sketches moving rapidly to 3D modeling and drawings and prototypes, with which we use Alibre 3D MCAD software. The ability to make changes quickly and to check designs is the key to modeling in 3D space. In short it makes less mess than flour all over the counter.
3. Evaluate Step.
My grandmother used to make gnocchi. She would make some dough and test it in a pot of boiling water and make changes and test again. We evaluate the outcome from the Design step by reaching out to users for their review, intentionally trying to break things and maybe even chewing on it a bit! No matter what you do you always learn something. A little more flour, a little more egg, a bit more zinc chromate so it doesn’t rust – but we don’t advise eating that. It ultimately leads to a design freeze. Now we can cook!
4. Prepare Step.
So if you are going to make something more than once a recipe works great for instructing others on just how to make it! We make recipes for the making of products. You go to the grocery and start buying ingredients – we cut PO’s and buy all the raw materials. You refer to the ingredients list… we call it a bill of material – you know – the stuff you need to make it and in what quantities. The recipe then dashes off into step one, step two, step four hundred. We call this a set of work instructions. Hey you! Grab that drill and mix that stuff like this…but in your case a mixer works better for pasta.
With your shopping done and your recipe in hand you can now make dinner. For us it’s about gearing up production and making that thing we only dreamed about back in the Define step. We use fixtures and jigs and you use a pasta making machine. But unlike making dinner, it takes a lot of people and a lot of work and some bumps along the way to make sellable products. We always get it made and we always get it tasting just right.
6. Sell Step.
You may tempt people with the aroma of your pasta and maybe give them a little taste to build an appetite. We do the same with marketing literature and teasers and samples. This all important step is where we find out if the thing really sticks. The people that do this work at Therafin are creative and a little crazy but believe in what we do and we all get to experience the satisfaction of success. If they can wet the consumer appetite we can feed them!
By now you may be hungry or just sick of the metaphor but the truth is all these steps means that Innovation is hard. But we love to do it. We love designing things, making stuff and selling it and all the steps in between. Obviously we like pasta too. Have a food, umm product idea? Let us know – we may be able to cook something up.
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