Five Attributes of Paradigm Breaking Innovations

futurelab default header

Recently, a team consisting of MIT students, along with Pratt & Whitney and Aurora Flight Science Corporation announced a radical new design for a jetliner which would take about 1/4 the amount of fuel consumed by today’s planes.


The Bubble Jet

It made me wonder, what are the attributes of a breakthrough design? The Tesla electric car is an example, as was the original iPhone, the Sony Walkman and the Brooklyn Bridge. What do they share? Here’s my list of five things:

  1. Radical goals. Each was at least a 50% increase in performance (the bridge), decrease in size (the Walkman, or radically new design (the plane);
  2. Willingness to invent new core concepts. The Brooklyn Bridge invented a whole new kind of underwater excavation. The iPhone reinvented interface.
  3. A recognition of the desire for a better way — either as a creative exercise (Walkman, iPhone) or as a solution to a really difficult problem (Brooklyn Bridge and Bubble Plane).
  4. A brilliant team of engineers.
  5. A visionary leader. We know the ones for the iPhone, Brooklyn Bridge, and Walkman, and I’m sure one will surface for the bubble plane.

What are your candidates for innovations that broke the Paradigm? How did they do it?

Original Post: