SIMILARITY-BASED REASONING USING PROVERBS IN MANAGING TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS FOR SMALL MANUFACTURERS
After conducting many interviews with managers and owners of small manufacturing companies regarding their approach to technological innovation, it became clear that in most cases there was no shortage of new ideas that could lead to innovation. However, whether any of these ideas were pursued often depended on the intuition of an individual; often the owner. It seems, independent of the physical nature of activities, some individuals have this intuition and some do not. The concept and methodology discussed in this paper is an attempt to transfer the intuition from those who have it to another person who does not. Since innovation, by nature, is something new and probably in a unique domain, many well known approaches such as case base reasoning or even TRIZ are not quite sufficient for this transfer as they rely mainly on the physical similarities of cases. The technique used here is a specially designed Similarity-Based Reasoning which extracts and characterizes the intuitive aspects that go into attempting and succeeding in technological innovations. A main component of the tool is a collection of scenarios provided by a number of small manufacturers about their experiences, in pursuing technological innovations. These scenarios are built into "cases" stored in a case base. Proverbs are used to extract the abstract concepts behind cases and code them such that they could be retrieved by the decision maker when dealing with an innovation process that "in abstract concept", is similar to someone else's past experience. The significance of this approach is that cases used in guiding the decision maker do not necessarily need to have physical similarities to the problem in hand as long as they are similar in concept.
Technological innovation, proverbs, similarity-based reasoning, small manufacturers
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