After the final selection of LapTime Club 2014 Cristian Cascetta was the author of the second winning idea.
He thought to embed a knowledge management system in WinTAX to open up all this knowledge and make it available to decision makers using Search Technologies.
Being an innovator means to have an idea that can make the state of the art of something easier and more understandable for others. By the way, to simplify a process and to make the urgency hidden in it clear for people can be a great challenge, but Cristian made it thanks to his active and enthusiastic contribution to the community. He had the opportunity to share his own idea with other innovation enthusiasts like him, improving and shaping his initial proposal thanks to community comments and reviews, becoming also a Top Innovator for his high level of engagement with the community itself.
Discover more about Cristian’s experience and suggestions through the following interview.
HELLO CRISTIAN, LAST YEAR LAPTIME CLUB APPRECIATED YOUR LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT AND THE INNOVATIVENESS OF YOUR SUGGESTIONS BY ANNOUNCING YOU ONE OF THE LAPTIME CLUB 2014 WINNERS. WOULD YOU TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU ARE DEVELOPING YOUR WINNING IDEA AND HOW MAGNETI MARELLI IS SUPPORTING YOU IN THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS?
It’s a dialogue. We are bridging Magneti Marelli’s world of ultraprecise data analysis and high accuracy manufacturing with the quite fuzzy world of information retrieval, unstructured documents and natural language processing. We share the final goal of leveraging sense making of data to empower decision making. In the last three months we analyzed together potential innovation directions and now we are defining a first minimum viable product or maybe – hopefully! – a first killer application.
I’m bringing in my expertise in information retrieval and document systems analysis and I’m getting back from Magneti Marelli precious insights into motorsport needs and requisites. It’s a bit cliché, but in these months I experienced in first person how much motorsport forces you to confront with extreme operating conditions and incredibly fast paced processes. It’s so inspiring that it helped me to re-frame other ideas I’m working on in my more “traditional” domain, finding at least two or three interesting innovation directions.
COULD YOU TELL US WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL APPROACH TO THE INNOVATION PROCESS?
It’s all based on observation and listening to people. I try to put on the anthropologist hat and get rid of prejudice, looking at things with a fresh eye. It’s a great humility exercise, you don’t have to be scared of looking sometimes terribly naive or to ask too simple questions, and if people think at you like a sort of strange version of Lieutenant Columbo, who matters?
DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN WAY OF CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING?
No, in fact I try to avoid to embrace too familiar paths. Obviously like everyone I have my own comforting rituals, spaces, objects and practices helping me to put myself in a mixed feeling of relax and enthusiasm to attack a new challenge.
Usually I start reading very much, not necessarily staying on topic, sometimes also freely divagating, but trying to keep alive a present feeling of the problem I’m confronted with. It helps me to make fresh connections and find alternative paths to my problem.
TELL US ABOUT 3 KINDS OF PEOPLE YOU PREFER TO WORK WITH.
1-Technicians. 2-Technicians. 3-Technicians!
When you are engaged in new projects or you are trying to innovate, you have the chance to meet a wide range of professionals. Many of them, designers, marketing guys, entrepreneurs have a positive attitude in expressing creative ideas, no matter how crazy these ideas are.
Technicians are often in a more reserved attitude. Sometimes they’re scared of not being clear, or of expressing their ideas in a too technical language, sometimes it’s a matter of fear of not doing your job if you’re too creative. I like to talk with technicians and push them to force the boundaries. And every time I find so much unexpressed value in those conversations, a real gold mine!
WHAT ARE THE 3 FUNDAMENTAL THINGS THAT YOU ALWAYS PUT IN YOUR ‘INNOVATION TOOLKIT’?
The first is abstract thinking. I’m very influenced by my history of technology and philosophy of technology education background. Abstract thinking helps you to keep thing in motion instead of rushing into the first – often biased and sub-optimal – working solution. Philosophy of technology forces you to search for deep structures in socio-technological systems, these structures help you to go beyond the barriers of hyper specialistic, often fragmented, engineering domains.
The second fundamental tool for me is cross-industry innovation. It’s like: “Ok, I’ve this technical problem, no matter if it’s not so relevant or instead it’s a core problem for this current project. Let me start by searching for an industry where the solution of this problem is a matter of life or death.” It’s always very inspiring and if you stumble twice on the same industry for different problems related to your project, then it’s very likely you’ve found one of those deep structures I mentioned above. Or, even better, you’ve found a new potential market for your idea!
Thirdly, I’m very interested in innovation methodologies. I really appreciate Triz the Russian “theory of inventive problem solving“, but I’m not strictly influenced by a specific methodology, instead I cherry-pick from different approaches depending on the current problem. What I like in innovation methodologies is that they help you not to overestimate the importance of intuition and creativity and to focus instead on the innovation process. When you work with or you meet creative, innovation-driven, interesting people – I’ve the chance of being in this happy situation – you can be overwhelmed by creative ideas. Innovation methodologies help you to channel all this energy.
COULD YOU GIVE 3 SUGGESTIONS FOR STARTUPPERS, INNOVATIVE THINKERS AND FOR ALL THE LAPTIME CLUB MEMBERS?
Three are too many! I don’t have three suggestions. What I can say is that I rarely found such open-minded and true innovation driven attitude as with Magneti Marelli guys. When I started to follow LapTime Club community I was a bit anxious of proposing ideas in such a selective and exclusive domain as professional motorsport. What I feel now that I had the opportunity of discussing by person about my idea is that total outsiders like me are not only welcome, but they can bring in real value from other industries and experiences.
So, my advice is to accept the challenge and propose your idea. Sure, Magneti Marelli tech guys are very demanding and challenging, but what you’d expect? It’s motorsport, after all!
Thank you Cristian for sharing with us your experience and continue to enrich the LapTime Club community with your ideas!