Are member of the sea rescue service better designers?

Innovation processes sometimes feel like sea rescue: little time, too few helpers on-site, and you don’t know precisely who or what you are looking for.

Brief research has shown that there are different search patterns in sea rescue. Can the strengths and weaknesses of these search patterns be transferred to innovation processes?

The four search patterns in sea rescue are:

1. random search
It can work, but it doesn’t have to. Whether it works or not is purely a matter of luck. That’s what amateurs under high stress would probably do in a real emergency. While rescuers at sea would perhaps never proceed in this way, there are actually product developers who try this approach. If you are a real genius, you can be quite successful and trust in luck and your divine gifts. But I have also seen that someone succeeds once with luck and then believes that he is a genius.

2. search from inside to outside
In rescue missions, this pattern has the advantage that casualties are highly likely to be alive if, when found. Unfortunately, they’re not always found.

3. search from outside to inside
Has the advantage in use that you (almost) always find people who have been injured. Unfortunately, this can take a long time, and the rescue may come too late.

4. search in the most likely areas
The rescuers determine the search corridors in which the casualties are most likely to be found. Then we search there from the inside out. Ideally, this gives the highest probability of survival. Works if there are sufficient indications (for example, current or wind direction) to define a corridor.

This search pattern corresponds to hypothesis-driven design. It attempts to combine the best of all worlds: resource use with a sense of proportion and, at the same time, the ability to search in all directions if necessary. For a successful application, it is essential to define when a hypothesis is rejected, and the next corridor has to be searched. Furthermore, one should be aware of what one really knows and what one only suspects.

Sounds good? Or just a half-baked brain flutter? I look forward to your comments.

Note to me: First, be glad that nobody dies in my line of work if success takes a bit longer. Second, stay relaxed during the next creative crisis and think about the heroes with significant jobs.

About the author

Daniel Herrmann

I am a Game Thinker, Consultant, and fanatic believer of theory Y.  My wife says I am unintentionally amusing. On average only 2 out of 100 people become more stupid by talking to me.

Co-Founder of Monokel Consulting, Serious PlayScape and RokaEnergy.