02 December 2016
Technology and Innovation
We are into the last day at this trade fair. It covers the waste management and recycling industry. With 2,500 exhibitors, 20,000 visitors and held in six halls covering over 100,000 square metres, it is the largest conference of its kind in Europe.
We were here to showcase our Ideas Catalog software. This is designed to help project teams at the front end of their feasibility study to identify a range of potential technologies that might be suitable for them. The concept behind the software is that 99.7% of all inventions and innovations come from a previously known solution - often from a different industry. So by collecting together a range of technologies from multiple industries, our software can help widen people's awareness of existing technology to speed up and improve the quality of options generation.
As well as demonstrating our software, we were also here to collect technologies so we can add them to our software. The show had many innovative technologies and we are gradually adding them to the databases. They cover a wide range of technologies including pipeline inspections, waste treatment and many others.
It's been a very worthwhile visit. Please contact me if you want to know more.
27 October 2016
I am pleased to announce the launch of my new book on problem solving.
A detailed text book of how to solve complex technical problems. This book takes the reader through a systematic approach to providing effective solutions. It starts with problem definition before using elegant tools tool to generate potential ideas that might solve the problem. Triz is heavily featured. The book takes you through a robust evaluation method (MCDA) before guiding you through implementation of the solution. Finally the book addresses whether the solution actually solved the original problem. There are additional chapters on workshops and facilitation. 456 pages.
To purchase go to the shop. It will soon be available on Amazon.
New office in the United States
08 September 2016
Just off Dupont Circle
We have moved offices. Our new address and telephone number is:
Cogentus Consulting LLC
1640, 19th St NW Washington DC. 20009
A certified small business.
Cogentus in the News
10 May 2016
March-April 2016 Nuclear Plant Journal
There is an article in this edition of the journal covering our presentation of the robotics database at NIST.
Japan Nuclear Decommissioning You Tube Channel
19 April 2016
The UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) have recently produced a You Tube video covering a number of UK companies with innovative technologies. Made specifically for the Japan market, Cogentus is one of those included. Click on the link to view our (and the other companies) video. All are less than two minutes long.
Waste Management 2016
09 March 2016
Here’s a short blog on a great week at Waste Management in Phoenix, Arizona. There were just over 2,000 attendees this year and it’s in its 42nd year!
International Robotics Workshop
08 February 2016
February 2-4 2016
The purpose of this workshop was to discuss and assess past, present and anticipated future uses of remote systems and robotic technologies in safety applications and decommissioning activities at nuclear facilities.
We were pleased to have a great slot on the first day, session 1, to present our Ideas Catalogs. We demonstrated the databases, with particular emphasis on the robotics database. We also showed how the databases could be used in a practical application to solve a difficult challenge (waste retrieval from silos). We explained our systematic approach using tools such as Triz and Functional Analysis compbined with looking at what others have done to solve similar problems before.
Nearly 200 people attended from across the World.
Ideas App - 2,500 Technologies
31 July 2015
We have recently added functionality in our Ideas Management software including a card view, walls and ability to email cards.
The software now has over 2,500 technologies across a range of apps including Technologies, Robotics, Deconatmination and Characterisation.
For more information click here to go to the Site.
New! V3.2.5 Released
12 June 2015
We have added a number of additional features for this release including more sensitivity analysis, benefits mapping and multiple system mapping diagrams.
Added S-Mapping. This allows you to compare your default value mapping with a predefined s-curve. Typically, many users stay with a linear mapping for value which can often overvalue medium scores at the expense of good scores. Looking at the sensitivity of value mapping can help decide whether the preferred choice is robust.
The sensitivity tools now cover the following:
* Variations in Criteria for different stakeholders
* Variations in Weights for different stakeholders
* Variations in weights on the preferred option
* Variations in Value Mapping
* Variations in Scores
This version includes benefits mapping tools. A Benefits Map shows how benefits relate o each other and to the project outputs and business changes that will enable them to be achieved. The dependenct relationships in a benefits map show how project outputs ultimately lead to the achievement of strategic objectives. Different colours are used to differentiate between the different types of objects in the map.
* Enhanced layouts for Define (problem definition)
* Multiple maps available for System Mapping (useful for value stream mapping, "as is" and "to be" or for mapping hierarchies of super-system, system and sub-systems)
* Enhanced the drawing of relationships/dependencies for portfolio analysis
DARPA Robotics Challenge 2015
07 June 2015
If you couldn’t make the event here’s my blog ……
The biggest robotics event ever, was held in Pomona, California on June 5-6
The winner was worth $2M, which is a large amount by any standards (2nd got $1M and 3rd got $500k) and the challenge was to navigate a series of obstacles designed around a disaster scenario. The robot had to drive a car, get out and open a door. Then go into a room and close a valve. Then cut through a wall using a cordless drill and retrieve and object before walking over rubble and up some stairs. The teams knew about the tasks to be done but not the detail about them. They also had to overcome a surprise task (turned out to be switch, push button and remove and plug in a cable.
Typically, most current robots are either limited to pristine and precisely controlled settings like factories and research labs, employed in simple, repetitive tasks. These kinds of robots cannot deal well with unpredictability and unstructured environments.
What makes these tasks extremely difficult is that the robots aren’t remote controlled. They are semi-autonomous (in this case “supervised” or “task-level” autonomy). This means that a human operator could issue a robot a command like “Open the door” and the robot would be able to complete that task by itself, taking into account the sensing and motions involved in identifying a door handle, applying the right force, and appropriately manoeuvring its limbs.
There were 23 teams in the finals from the United States (12), Japan (4), South Korea (3), Germany (3), Italy (1). There were none from the UK. All had to pre-qualify meaning these were the best of the best in the world. There were two major platforms (Atlas and Thor) both based on two-legged humanoids. Then there were some other slightly different platforms based on more legs and/or wheels.
DARPA were not expecting any of the robots to be even close to matching the capabilities of a human. Even though they are incredible mechanical systems controlled by highly sophisticated software, it’s just the start of a long process of improvement.
The challenge itself was impressively set up in an old art deco racetrack with stands for spectators numbering maybe a 1,000 perhaps. They had four courses set up where teams concurrently tried to compete. Each course had a huge video screen so you could see what was going on.
I was expecting the challenge to prove rather slow and that was certainly the case. It took 10-15 minutes just to walk through an open door (worth 1 point) to polite applause from the crowd. There were plenty of falls (the robots had to get themselves back up) and if they needed help they had to go back to the start of that particular challenge.
Taking first place and the $2 million in prize money was Team Kaist (South Korea), and its robot DRC-Hubo. Coming in second and taking home $1 million was Team IHMC Robotics (Pensacola, Florida)., and its robot Running Man. The third place finisher, earning the $500,000 prize was Tartan Rescue (Pittsburgh), and its robot CHIMP. All three teams got full scores for completing the tasks but Team Kaist won because they completed the course in the fastest time (44 minutes). Bear in mind a human could have done the same course in about 5 minutes and it shows just how far we have to go! However, the fact that 19 robots managed to complete the course was a massive improvement on two years ago (where none of them managed it) shows the pace of change possible given the right incentive.
Surrounding the competition was an exhibition of over 70 exhibitors. They showcased a huge range of robotics and there were regular demonstrations throughout (including aerial vehicles). Most exhibitors had robots that attendees could play with or they were whizzing around the grounds.
We attended the event to ensure we were as up to date as possible with the latest robotics technologies. It was great to see that we had virtually all the exhibitors already included.
It was an event well worth attending. There were big crowds and lots of very interesting technologies on show. Clearly, robots have a long way to go before they take over from humans in carrying out unstructured tasks in uncertain environments but you have to start somewhere.
22 May 2015
This edition covers the latest enhancements to our Smart Decisions software (value engineering, ideas generation, multi-criteria evaluation, Triz) as well as some interesting projects we carried out (such as solution sessions, robotics, R&D Needs, R&D analytics, Startup & Commissioning).
ABB Robotics Open Day
14 May 2015
ABB in Milton Keynes had a fantastic open day today showcasing numerous robotic technologies. They’re only held every 5-7 years as it requires significant commitment in resources so we were fortunate to receive an invitation. It was impressively laid out with areas set aside for demonstrations each manned by a senior ABB representative. Some of the demonstrations are listed below:
Apprentice project using IRB120 combining robot arm, vision system and interactive tablet control
Flexpicker is a super fast pick and place robot
Dry ice cleaning for engines which uses solid CO2 pressure system on an IRB1600 foundry robot
Sidio Airus remote inspection for measuring tolerances
IPGfiber laser cutting technology
FlecArc robotic arc-welding cell
IRB6660FX press automation for moving large bulky items
Adaptive force control with tactile sensing
Safe Move designed to slow down if getting close and ultimately stop robots if getting too close. Demonstrated on two IRB140 working collaboratively.
As well as the demonstrations they had a number of technical speakers covering topics including:
- Smartphone simplicity for robot users
- Programmable solutions for industrial automation
- Automation Power Train innovation
- Safety in motion
Day 4 – Waste Management 2015
19 March 2015
Today is the final day of the conference. People, including me, are making their way back home so it's much quieter than the rest of the week. That's a shame for the presenters as there are quite a few interesting looking papers on robotics in the afternoon but few people to hear them.
On a lighter note I was amused to see the range of freebies offered at the booths. A random survey asking what some of the attendees had collected were:
"A bluetooth speaker from Energy Solutions which speaks to you when you turn it on, very deep English accent but obviously not programmed by an English person......"
"Several cheap pens and one or two really nice ones"
"Memory sticks from Avantech, CH2MHILL & Nuclear Engineering International"
"USB power thingies to stick in ciggie lighter in car from Studsvik"
"Lanyard from AECOM"
"Bottle opener, knife and flashlight ARS International"
"Back scratcher from ??? left in hotel room 'cos it was too long for my bag"
At most conferences, exhibitors have a draw where you put your business card into a pot and then gives the winner a prize. Generally this is limited to a bottle of (non vintage) champagne. Here though, some of the prizes were pretty amazing including cash prizes of several hundred dollars, Apple watch, iPads, GoPro camera and, my personal favourite - a robotic vacuum cleaner from iRobot. One lucky person had quite a bit of additional luggage to take on the plane home.
Some of the larger exhibitors had some spectacularly large stands. About the size of a small bungalow in the UK. These had meeting rooms, TVs, sofas, etc. Some had huge trucks and the attached trailer was used for their exhibit space. My favourite stands were the ones with products and Inuktun and iRobot had the best robots with Inuktun managing to fit four of their robots working in a standard booth space.
Next year the featured country will be the UK. So it is likely that there'll be a large UK contingent of both attendees and exhibitors.
It was a worthwhile event for us; good to catch up with existing colleagues and also to meet new ones. See you next year.
Day 3 – Waste Management 2015
18 March 2015
Robotics for D&D
The conference has areas set aside for posters. These are, as the name suggests, posters describing a particular project or topic. There is a representative available who can take you through the poster rather than them doing a paper and presentation. They are good in that you can have a more detailed discussion with them than you can in a normal session.
James Fisher had a poster on the work they have been doing for Sellafield. This was a variation on their presentation yesterday but allowed us to discuss the advantages of using off-the-shelf equipment to develop solutions. This is the approach we're pursuing with our robotics database.
There were several today that were particularly interesting. Manchester University had a poster called “Robotics Systems for Remote Characterisation and Decommissioning”. They were showing their Avexis system for in-situ monitoring of ponds. They also had a range of other technologies under development by their students for use in the nuclear industry.
Argonne National Laboratory had a poster on the “Remote monitoring of a hot cell facility”. The system was called ARG-US (“Watchful Guardian”) RFID and used the RFID for monitoring and tracking sensitive nuclear packages. RFIDs are placed on packages or drums and their movement can be monitored remotely by a receiver. This part can be stationary or placed on a moveable robot.
One of the main sessions of the day - at least for D&D was Session 108 “D&D of US DOE Facilities” chaired by Andy Szilagyi and Julia Tripp. There were a number of interesting papers presented.
Mark Phifer from Savannah River National Laboratory presented on “Evaluation of Decontamination and Decommissioning Alternatives for a Department of Energy Nuclear Material Processing Facility”. He talked about building 235-F at Savannah River and it is unusual because it is being considered for in situ disposal (ISD). Mark explained how the alternatives were evaluated with regard to groundwater protection. They used a stochastic model (GoldSim) to evaluate the scenarios ranging from grouting portions or grouting all the facility. Their stochastic process ran 1,000 realizations over 100,000 years on fate & transport and dose modules. He explained the simplifications used to make the model easier to produce and quicker to run. Amongst other things, it helped them to understand which areas of the facility needed to remove hazardous material (and how much) prior to grouting in order that the safety basis can be made. In other words, they should be able to do less up front work than they might have done before the modelling.
Richard Creed from Antech Ltd presented “Radiometric characterization process for locating radioactivity hold up”. He explained their software package rather than using a spreadsheet. It’s called multi geometry gamma analysis software (MGGA). Interestingly, the software sets up what is required to be measured prior to measurement occurring that then helps technicians collect the necessary data. They use standard measurement tools but are prompted take accurate measurements and then the software processes the data. This reduces errors and so saves rework by having to retake measurements. This is yet another example of solving a problem which has a relevant Triz inventive principle: in this #10 - prior action - perform, before it is needed, the required change of an object (either fully or partially).
Laurie Judd from NuVision presented on “Integrating commercially available remote systems to address current D&D challenges”. This covered the work we’ve been doing with Laurie for Andy on robotics. He outlined the study objectives that were to research commercially available technologies that may be of use to D&D, essentially updating an earlier study carried out some 15 years before. He described the data collection methodology, resultant database of information and subsequent workshops on solving real-world problems. The workshops used the database to help identify potential combinations of existing technology to solve specific problems at site. During the project, approximately 450 technologies were identified ranging from platforms through arms, sensors and end effectors. These were from a range of industries and with a range of current technology readiness levels. He explained that in the six months since the study completion, the database has already doubled in size to nearly 1,000. The speed and range of robotics development in all industries is going through a massive evolutions and he stressed the importance of keeping up to date with latest developments in order to make the most of what already exists and not to “reinvent the wheel”.
In a separate session (session 102), Chip Lagdon chaired a panel session on startup and commissioning. This was another activity in which we were heavily involved; we ran the workshop last year to identify common issues, lessons learned and best practices. This panel session described the workshop outputs as well as updates from the working groups that were created as a result of the workshop.
Day 2 – Waste Management 2015
17 March 2015
Sessions 47 and 67
Alex Jenkins from Sellafield Ltd opened session 47 with a great presentation on “Considerations for recovery of large areas of a nuclear facility for re-use”. As the title suggests, this explained the processes and techniques for what's required to move from a contaminated facility to one where it is clean enough for operation again.
Next Anja Graf from WAK described the dismantling of primary shielding with prototype machines in a compact sodium cooled reactor (KNK, Karlsruhe). She presented slides and a video of the multifunctional dismantling tool (HWZ), which is for lifting out the shield segments (payload 16Mg). The equipment is lowered on a crane and then drills holes in the shielding. The holes are cleaned before the machine inserts mandrels which are used to clamp the shielding before they are removed by the crane. The Bandsaw Tool (BWZ) is used for remote controlled sawing of shield segments and then depositing them on specially designed pallets for direct loading into repository containers.
Stephen Reese from Idaho National Lab (INL) gave a presentation title “Decontamination methods for the waste isolation plant (WIPP)”. He explained the processes used for decontaminating WIPP after the incident last year. These laboratory trials included: dry brushing, water washing, strippable coatings (DeconGel 1108, Stripcoat), vacuum cleaning, mechanical grinding and fixative barriers (PBS, Stripcoat, Tekflex PM). The material to be decontaminated was essentially rock & rubble. For this material water washing & DeconGel were both very effective. Although DeconGel proved very difficult and time consuming to remove and water washing created a lot of waste water to be treated. Mechanical grinding proved the least effective. Strippable coatings appear to offer a lot of promise: PBS and Stripcoat sustain abuse much better than Tekflex due to their elastic nature. Tekflex on the other hand is more viscous s easier to apply to ceilings and wall. They’ve started to implement water washing in some limited areas and allowing the effluent to absorb into the floor meaning there’s no effluent to pump out or treat. The plan is then to use fixatives on the floor.
Over lunch and early afternoon, I took a wander around the exhibition hall. There were plenty of exhibitors, some with huge trucks and some with more modest stands.
Session 67 was another D&D stream “Application of Innovative D&D Technologies”. Alex Jenkins gave his second presentation of the day – this time on Ice Pigging. This is a technique for cleaning pipelines using ice. When frozen, the ice is solid and can scape the pipework clean and once it melts it can flushes away along with the associated debris. The advantage is that, unlike a mechanical pig, it can’t get stuck. This is an example of Triz problem solving using inventive principles - in this case number 36: phase transitions.
This was followed by another presentation from a UK organisation. Scott Adams from James Fisher described their work on using submersible ROVs for characterisation and inspection in ponds at Sellafield.
Day 1 – Waste Management 2015
15 March 2015
WM2015 is an international conference for the management of radioactive waste.
This blog is my personal experience of the conference. Held in Phoenix, Arizona, there are 2,000+ attendees representing 40 countries. Since there are hundreds of papers plus a large exhibition hall I can’t get to see and hear everything so I’m focussing on D&D. In particular, robotics, remote handling and decontamination technologies which will prove useful to add to our ideas generation databases.
Arrived at the venue where the weather was hot and sunny. After registration I attended session 23 “Application of Innovative D&D Technologies - Part 1 of 3”. The first two papers described statistical approaches to improve aspects of characterisation. Mark Miller (Sandia) gave a presentation titled “An evaluation of nearest neighbour averaging for radiological scanning instruments”. This was interesting in that software and instrumentation could readily be adapted to robotics to reduce time and effort in large-scale characterisation.
The third paper was by a speaker from the University of Bristol who covered some highly technical information on graphite investigation. The fourth paper “Mobile platform for radiological characterisation” was by Vincent Gourdeau (CEA). He described an approach for in-situ gamma characterisation that can go onto a number of platforms from large trucks to hexacopters. He also explained their mobile laboratory that, once contamination has been detected, samples could be sent there (locally) to characterise the samples rather than sending them to a central laboratory which is more time consuming and expensive.
The last presentation of the day was by Andrew Tieu (VLN Advanced Technologies) who gave a presentation on pulsed water jet cutting. The element of specific interest was the high frequency pulsation which is more effective than normal water jet cutting. This is a good example of solving problems using Triz inventive principles in this case #19, periodic action. Instead of continuous action, use periodic or pulsating actions or if an action is already periodic, change the periodic magnitude or frequency.
Internet connectivity in the conference is extremely poor. Access is only available in a few small areas rather than throughout the whole conference area and even that is extremely slow. This is very frustrating in this day and age and makes it difficult to demonstrate our databases.
EM Develops Database for Solutions to Nuclear Cleanup Challenges Across Complex
23 January 2015
DOE uses the Cogentus Database
Many deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) projects across the EM complex require robotic and remote handling systems to protect workers during nuclear cleanup operations.
For example, at the Hanford Site in Washington state, D&D work on Building 324 and the recovery of waste from caissons — watertight, underground chambers — require the development and application of advanced remote handling systems.
Robotic and remote systems will also likely be required for D&D of facilities at Savannah River Site in South Carolina, West Valley Demonstration Project in New York, and other EM sites.
EM’s Office of D&D and Facility Engineering (D&D/FE) commissioned, from Cogentus, a study of robotics and remote technologies available in the nuclear industry to find out how the systems are used and whether they are successful. In some cases, systems used in non-nuclear work also were assessed because they could apply to the nuclear industry. Nearly 500 remote systems were identified and cataloged according to their applications — such as manipulator arm and land-based and water-based platforms — in a searchable database.
Following development of the database, EM held a meeting this year with the Idaho Cleanup Project team to demonstrate the use of the database to identify commercially available systems that could be used to meet D&D challenges at that site. In particular, the group discussed the site’s calcine retrieval project which has to retrieve dry, high-level radioactive material from large bins which are typically the size of grain silos.
The meeting illustrated how EM can use the database to identify existing technologies to solve technical challenges rather than develop new systems, which are costly and take significant time to create.
D&D/FE is working to make the database available complex-wide, and hopes to conduct workshops at other sites in 2015 to further illustrate the benefits of the database.
Since the completion of this project, Cogentus has developed their own version of the database to ensure it is kept up to date and is always relevant. It has been extended to include decontamination techniques, characterization technologies and treatment/processing technologies. it is now included in our "Solution Ideas" module of Smart Decisions. The combined databases have over 1,000 technologies that can be viewed to see if they can be used as a solution (or adapted to create a solution). This approach saves time and money and avoids reinventing the wheel. Smart Decisions has an evaluation module that can be used to assess the performance of the different potential solutions. For information on pricing and availability please contact email@example.com
Making insights from data
16 January 2015
An example of misleading statistics
We're currently engaged on a project analysing a lot of data. Hopefully, when it's complete, some of it will be made available by our Client for public viewing. We pay a lot of attention to how the data is obtained, consolidated and presented so that relevant and robust insight can be made.
So it was with interest that I came across this blog on misleading statistics from Eric Portelance. It's a great example - from a huge company (Bloomburg) - where the data has been misrepresented in order to make a specific point. The blog post is well worth a read for anyone involved with data analytics. See the original blog post here
For regular updates on data visualisation and statistics the Nathan Yau website (Flowing Data) is an excellent resource.
Guide to Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs)
19 December 2014
What are TRLs and how should they be used?
Cogentus has written this guide for the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). It is available to download from the NDA website. They are looking for comments so please let them know what you think.
"NASA developed Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) in the early 70’s as a means of assessing whether emerging technology was suitable for space exploration. By the 1990’s it was in use across many US Government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE). TRLs are now in common use in the UK including the NDA Estate.
The NDA document "Technical Baseline and Underpinning Research and Development Requirements" (EGG10 aka TBuRDs) makes specific reference to TRLs and contains guidance in appendix 2. The purpose of this Guide is to expand appendix 2 to include information on what are TRLs, when their use is appropriate, what factors need to be considered when assigning a TRL to a technology and what is established good practice in assigning TRLs.
This Guide is not intended to provide a manual for the assessment of TRLs but to capture the key issues and good practice so that they can be considered in an assessment."
Decommissioning & CBRN Databases now available
10 December 2014
A vast library of resources
They have already been used to solve other problems. Could they solve yours?
Robotics & Sensors
This database has a wide range of technologies suitable for hazardous working. It includes robotics, remote handling, detectors & sensors and related software.
This database has a wide range of decontamination techniques mainly for radioactive contamination. It includes mechanical & cleaning technologies as well as fiaxatives and strippable coatings.
This database has a large number of technologies that can be used to solve contradictions.
This database has a range of technologies that can be used to solve typical generic problems.
Using Triz to create lasting food security
09 December 2014
4 steps to lasting food security innovations
It started with a simple idea: Offer monetary incentives to jump-start entrepreneurial activities in Armenia’s rural north. However, once our initial pilot was completed and we gathered data and shared experiences, we found that the incentives actually made participants less interested. Overall, our pilot project met our expected targets, but as we discussed what worked with our staff and beneficiaries, we found that the incentives structure actually caused distrust within our local team.
Although nearly a decade has passed, I’ve often reflected on this experience while working with a wide variety of teams in different locations around the world. No matter the field, in one way or another we all face similar challenges: how to take systematic approaches to innovation, how to design locally appropriate solutions and how to bring those approaches that show the most promise to scale.
If we are going to meet the needs of the expected population of 9 billion by 2050, a 70 percent increase in food production will be required, and these same questions will become increasingly important to answer. Game-changing innovations drawn from a variety of fields and disciplines are going to be crucial. To scale these innovations in places that have a wide assortment of constraints — including varying levels of conflict, drought and infrastructure — enabling environments will be essential. Ironically, a model that’s almost 70 years old, called TRIZ, might provide a simple four-step approach that offers answers to some of these pressing questions:
Step 1: Identify the specific problem
On the surface, this probably seems like the easiest step for most of us. We see challenges every day. Too often, though, we move straight to identifying a solution without taking the time to truly analyze the situation or to use available data to fully understand the specific problem faced.
Take, for instance, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. On FEWS NET, we have been tasked with identifying indicators of possible food insecurity and famine to help decision-makers deploy resources. In the past year, alongside its long-standing integration of agroclimatology, markets and trade and livelihoods information, FEWS NET has expanded to conduct nutrition studies to help explain the underlying causes of acute and chronic food insecurity.
With the integration of these analyses, we can now understand nutrition more comprehensively and measure patterns and trends that predict, for example, who within a given population is particularly vulnerable to malnutrition. This new level of analysis is invaluable to understanding the root problems of crises in order to address longer-term nutrition challenges.
Step 2: Define the general problem
To figure out how other disciplines can offer solutions to specific problems, it’s useful to generalize the identified problem into a more abstract challenge.
A basic TRIZ concept is to identify inherent contradictions in order to better generalize the problem. Take Haiti, for example, where we are working with USAID to increase agricultural productivity. As we began to work with the farmers in Haiti, the general problem became obvious: More production on small, hilly land that is often devastated by deforestation and soil erosion has made productive farming nearly impossible. Although seemingly contradictory, this generalization led to a search for solutions from other developing countries or new ideas that could be adapted to Haiti.
Step 3: Identify the general solution
TRIZ is based on the idea that many underlying root problems found in steps 1 and 2 have already been solved — often in unrelated industries or places.
For instance, in Haiti, we looked at places with similar landscapes and challenges and researched their solutions. Greenhouses were identified as a possible solution. With just 70 square meters, greenhouse farmers can make 10 times the income as regular farmers. How? The greenhouses allow for the use of vertical farming, a practice common in developed countries, and the enclosed growing area allows three harvests per year. They also allow the rest of the farm to be used for agroforestry to combat erosion.
Greenhouses aren’t a catchall solution, but for the farmers introduced to greenhouses in Haiti, the technology was a game changer, and today they have higher incomes and are contributing to their country’s growth. With the right tailoring, greenhouse technology had the potential to substantially increase farmer productivity in Haiti.
Step 4: Tailor your general solution to your specific challenge
Tailoring innovations to the local context is perhaps the most crucial step and what we missed in designing financial incentives in Armenia. Here we are taking our general solution and adapting it to the local setting. In Uganda, for example, we are working with USAID to improve the maize, beans and coffee value chains in order to increase incomes and bring farmers out of poverty.
While value chain work is not new, our approach within the value chain in Uganda is relatively new. We are working to strengthen the role of middlemen traders, a group that has traditionally been circumvented in value chain interventions because they were perceived as predatory, squeezing farmers’ margins for their own gain. In Uganda, however, research indicated that middlemen had the potential to transform those sectors and contribute to the country’s long-term agricultural development.
The effort is far from over, but so far, the key has been building trust among these diverse groups and promoting greater transparency around market pricing and demand. Farmers know what their crops are worth and middlemen provide essential services, like training in post-harvest handling.
By taking a well-established methodology — the facilitated value chain approach — and adding a new element specific to Uganda, we are seeing results. And because this is a new approach, we will continue to test and adapt it to ensure it continues to improve Uganda’s agricultural sector.
Eureka? No, discipline
Often innovation is thought of as Archimedes’ “eureka!” moment in the bathtub — in other words, fleeting and unpredictable. In fact, no matter if it’s TRIZ or other frameworks, the pursuit of innovation needs to be systematic and disciplined if we are going to consistently find and implement game-changing innovations and solve the most pressing agriculture and food security challenges that lie ahead.
By James Butcher (executive vice president of Chemonics), 24 July 2014
11 Questions Your Competition Is Already Asking
05 December 2014
Forbes article by Lisa Bodell CEO of futurethink, a New York City-based innovation research and training firm.
When was the last time your organization considered eliminating an aspect of its best-selling product or service? Or whether your products should be miniaturized to reach different customer segments? Or how you could place a new service inside a current product?
If it’s been longer than six months since you explored this line of questioning, you’re due for a panic attack. Even if—especially if—your product is a market leader, you can’t afford the “if it ain’t broke” approach. This is how complacency sneaks into even the most inventive organizations (just ask RIM), and how competitors gain a foothold.
Through a decade of work with leading global organizations like Starwood and GE, my innovation-training firm, futurethink, developed a set of questions that our courageous clients explore on a quarterly basis. The questions are inspired by a problem-solving technique called TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving).
Developed by Russian patent examiner Genrich Altshuller, TRIZ provides a systematic process for innovation. Altshuller reviewed 400,000 patent applications, looking for commonalties between the problems and the inventor’s methods for solving them. We’ve translated the key principles of TRIZ into questions relevant for all industries and excerpted 11 of the most popular below.
Which part of our product can we eliminate to create new value? Listing every individual element of your product can help you identify superfluous aspects and, ideally, reach new market segments. Riedel “O” wine glasses eliminated the stems and created a line that appeals to minimalists—and anyone who prefers glasses with a few less inches of fragility. Kimberly-Clarke ditched the cardboard roll in its toilet paper and received a hefty amount of press for reducing landfill waste—and being first in its category to make the change.
Which aspect of our product or service could be returned or refilled after use? Every cartridge of ink or toner recycled by Staples Reward customers earns them a $2-off coupon. The Back to MAC program allows customers to choose a free lipstick, blush or eye shadow of their choice for every six empty containers returned in-store. Recycling programs like these encourage customer loyalty while taking a public stand on sustainability.
Which of our products, services or systems can we place inside the offering of an external company? From banking to baking, this kind of thinking leads to successful co-ventures like Chase Bank’s no-fee ATMs in 246 Duane Reade drugstores and inclusion of Hershey’s chocolate syrup packages in boxes of Betty Crocker Brownie Mix.
Can we attach our product or service to a trend or movement? Through Monday Morning Mommy Movies, Pacific Theatres turned an off-peak time into an attraction for the stroller set. Best Western runs an exclusive rewards program for Harley Davidson enthusiasts, who receive a special rate (along with a wipe-down towel at check-in). Identify powerful demographics that you aren’t currently reaching and design a marketing strategy that will appeal organically to them.
Who can we acquire to group similar products or services and weaken our competition? Fed-Ex’s acquisition of Kinko’s successfully combined one-stop services and products for both company’s business customers. Disney’s purchase of Pixar breathed new energy into the legacy brand—and prevented Pixar from falling into a rival studio’s hands. Together with your teams, identify the companies that represent a Kinko’s or Pixar for your organization, and make your case to decision-makers.
Which external company or internal division could provide us with much-needed technology or resources? Glad Press ’n Seal bags were a successful joint venture between longtime competitors Clorox and P&G, and applied the latter company’s Whitestrip’s film-adhesive technology to a kitchen product. Do not overlook your archenemies in this exercise; one of them could hold the patented formula for your next bestseller.
Which of our existing products/services could we package together to create more value for the customer? To incentivize loyalty, Comcast Cable extends a discount to customers who use the provider for Internet, telephone, and cable. Likewise, Pampers combined two products that are often co-purchased—diapers and wipes—and made shopping simpler for its customers. Determine which of your offerings can be bundled to meet a separate yet related customer need.
Which products could be miniaturized to create new value? Benjamin Moore created mini-cans for its entire palette so customers could sample various colors without spending for the full-size. The TSA’s 3-oz. travel restriction on carry-on liquids has opened up new markets and customer segments for companies like Minimus.biz, which now sells travel sizes of over 2500 products.
Which services could we insert within a confined customer experience to increase customer loyalty? Walmart Super Center exemplifies the confined customer experience: at many locations, on-premise services include banking, automotive, photo processing, nail salon, tax preparation and a pharmacy—in addition to grocery and household products. What product or service are customers buying elsewhere that you could start providing?
Where on the supply chain can we expand our business? Take a tip from Dove soap, which capitalized on its trusted name to launch hair care and body lotion lines. Brawny Paper Towels used its brand equity to expand into kitchen bags and cleaning products. Examine where these types of extension opportunities exist in your own business.
Is there an aspect of our product/service that can be used for humanitarian good? The Alaska Air Charity Miles program enables members to donate frequent flyer points to charity. Walgreen’s “Get a Shot, Give a Shot” campaign brings in socially minded customers for flu shotswith a pledge to administer an in-kind vaccination to a child in a developing country. A humanitarian program can provide a point of difference from your competition—and inspire consumer goodwill toward your brand—so identify where it could become a reality in your business.
Quarterly meetings are the ideal frequency for applying these questions to your existing products, services, and capabilities. When your teams grow more accustomed to the above line of questioning, you’ll see an increase in opportunities within your business for both incremental and groundbreaking innovation. As you move forward, assume the competition is asking all the same questions, and strive to find faster, smarter, more creative ways to out-innovate your rivals.
Cogentus provides Smart Decisions that has all these questions plus a range of other Triz tools. We also run solution sessions to help you get the best out of the software and your own thinking.
23 November 2014
Problem solving should be a priority not innovation
There was an interesting article in the Guardian (Nov 25) essentially suggesting that the NHS should fix problems rather than focus on innovation. It was born from the fact that "innovation" is far too often seen as THE fix. A magic answer to a tricky issue. It needs a fancy name and fancy processes and is trendy. However, in most organisations, this term is pretty much used as a buzzword. Real innovation doesn;t happen yet everyone believes it's the most important thing that needs to be done. The article suggests we just focus on fixing problems instead. Sensible approach.
09 November 2014
Online Collaborative Evaluation
Our newest addition to the Smart Decisions range in Bronze. This is for simple evaluations (up to 6 options and 6 criteria) where participants are geographically distant. Create options and criteria and score remotely. Full discussions can be done online and the results displayed instantly. Download to Gold or Platinum to carry out more sophisticated analysis of results.
New version now out!
09 September 2014
V3.2.1 Now Out
We've just released our latest version. Enhancements include:
- Multiple lines for displaying functions
- Colour coding of functions
- Minimisation of boxes to improve visibility of complex diagrams
- Colour coding of boxes
- Colour coding of functions to align with system map and functions database
- Naming of groups
- Colour coding of ideas
- Robotics database
- Decontamination database
- Improved display design
- Choose scoring display
- Add a question to criteria
- Improved display design
- Progress bar
- New radio button display
- Show input scores on scatter display
- Show labels on bubble charts
D&D Needs Session
17 August 2014
On June 24-25 2014, the Department of Energy held a meeting with a group of 20 stakeholders from the US and UK to discuss current and future D&D technology needs and challenges. The focus of the meeting was to identify target areas which will be the basis for the development and implementation of a Strategic Plan for the Office of D&D and Facility Engineering (EM-10). The participants included representatives from US Department of Energy (HQ and Field Offices), DOE Prime Contractors and Sellafield Ltd from the UK. This meeting was initiated by EM-10 and supported/facilitated by Cogentus in conjunction with NuVision Engineering and SRNL. Preparatory work had included the development of a Problem Definition Questionnaire (PDQ) which was then completed by each of the sites to identify their needs and technical challenges. These PDQs formed the basis for the meeting.
The objectives of the meeting were to:
1. Review the site needs and challenges and to identify overlaps and gap
2. Share D&D lessons leanred between DOE sites and Sellafield
3. Develop themes against which EM-13 can develop a robisy technology plan
4. Continue to develop a D&D "Community of Practice"
We ran a combination of presentations, round table discussions and breakout sessions to effectively address and discuss the objectives and to develop and agree on the key issues and path forward. The final deliverable was the generation of high level Strategic Themes that address site needs and technology gaps. These themes were;
Strategy - strategic issues and technical assistance
Characterization - equipment & tools, non-destructive assay and sampling/monitoring
Remote Technologies - delivery systems, mock ups and sensors
Decontamination – agents, methods of application and fixatives
These Themes will be used as a basis for the Strategic Plan.
Startup and Commissioning Meeting
15 July 2014
Transition to Operations
We recently facilitated a meeting on lessons learned for the startup and commissioning of nuclear cleanup facilities. There were attendees from all the major US Sites as well as representatives from the UK and Canada. In all 25 people spent two and a half days and delivered high quality outputs to the Sponsor, Chip Lagdon (Head of Nuclear Safety for EM).
The phase where facilities move from the designers to the operators is known to be extremely challenging and is not well known. Few people have been intimately involved and the goal is to develop a "best practice" manual or guide for major projects to share knowledge in the future.
Different ways of mapping a problem
29 May 2014
Using a diagraming technique such as mapping is an excellent way to really understand the problem. There are many alternatives each promoted by different types of users. However, they are all based on the same principle - namely to illustrate the items within a system and to identify how those items are linked.
This technique from Systems Engineering uses the concept of Subject-Action-Object. A system needs all these three elements and the Action is what is often called a "Function". It is always a verb. In Smart Decisions you can colour code the functions to make it easier to visualise similarities.
Value Stream Mapping
This technique is used in Lean and Lean Six Sigma to map processes. It differs from functional analysis in that in looks at major components and the only Action is the flow between them. It is therefore mostly used to improve production times.
This technique from Triz is very similar to Functional Analysis except that the Actions are generally defined in terms of "Fields". A field is the energy that creates the action shich could be mechanical, electrical or a host of others.
Conflict Resolution Diagram
This technique from the Theory of Constraints is a different approach to the others being based on the objective, requirements to meet the objectve and pre-requisites. The tool helps to identifying conflicts in pre-requisites. In Smart Decisions you would then use the Technical or Physical Contradictions tools to identify solutions to the conflicts.
Uses for Smart Decisions
07 May 2014
Try examples of how to use Smart Decisions
We've added loads of example model to our software page. Here you can see examples for a range of business problems including:
- Value Engineering and Value Management
- Value For Money
Annual Review 2013
20 March 2014
Here's our review of 2013. It covers a few of the things we did last year including updates to our software and work on robotics.
7 articles on innovation
11 March 2014
Over the past year, I've collected together a number of interesting (?) articles on innovation, creativity and Triz
Over the past year, I've collected together a number of interesting (?) articles on innovation, creativity and Triz
10 myths about creativity you need to stop believing now As the title suggests, ten things not to believe the hype such as brainstorming, eureka moments and teams of experts. The last paragraph is: "If you believe your startup's success depends on your company being more creativity and innovative than your competitors, don't just blindly following the historic myths. Instead spend the time needed to understand and nurture the components of creativity in your environment. How creatively are you pursuing innovation in your business?"
Driving Innovation in Samsung with Triz. Interesting article about how Samsung uses Triz in a big way to drive innovation.
TRIZ in Reverse. This article continues the series exploring structured innovation using the TRIZ methodology, a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from studying patterns of invention found in global patent data.
Process Improvement Techniques Primer. Over the course of a career in contingent workforce management, you may spend a lot of time discussing process and process improvement techniques. They may be as complex as building an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico or as simple as time card approval and invoicing at a remote site. Regardless of the complexities inherent to any project or initiative, it often helps to consider using recognized standards or methodologies.
Innovate Your Way to Success - Part 2. In this blog the main focus looks at how to be creative and how to ensure your business becomes more innovative. It shares insights on how to engage people with your new ideas. As a reminder, innovation is creativity with a job to do. If we can't get people in the business buying into our ideas and ultimately implementing them, then the hard work of coming up with ideas is little more than creative vanity.
Innovation Toolkit. Innovation is highly relevant to every organization. Yet, eighty percent of innovation projects never reach the market. Many have a false start. The Innovation Expedition proposed by Gijs van Wulfen is an inspiring visual and practical toolkit to start innovation effectively and successfully.
To Boost Creativity, Challenge Your Existing Ideas. One of the most overused clichés in business management is surely “thinking outside the box.”
More Ideas, Better Ideas
18 January 2014
In order to come up with innovative solutions you need ideas. If you only have a few ideas, the chance of identifying a good solution is unlikely. In general, if you have more ideas you will improve the chance that you will hit upon a good solution. However, you want not just more ideas, but better ideas. This chapter describes a range of techniques that will enable groups and individuals to improve the quality of their idea generation enormously.
For many years the typical approach to generating ideas has been “Brainstorming”. This is a technique from the 1950’s where ideas are generated within a group setting. The rules are that the group should be multi-disciplinary and that all ideas should be expressed freely without discussion, debate or ridicule. The ideas are then posted to a flip chart or wall. However, there is substantial evidence that this technique, however popular, is not very good at generating ideas. Research has shown, repeatedly, that it is much less effective than individuals working on their own. The reason why it continues to be popular lies in the belief that the “sum is greater than its parts” – that it must be better to pool the knowledge of a group and rely on one or two individuals. Unfortunately this is not the case. Groups are not very good at coming up with ideas unless the rules of traditional brainstorming are changed.
There are three main reasons why traditional brainstorming is not effective:
1) Trial and Error. Generating ideas randomly is by its very nature a trial and error process. This is both inefficient and ineffective.
2) Psychological Inertia. These are the barriers we all have in coming up with ideas. Our background, culture, previous experiences and education all constrain our thought patterns. We only know what we know.
3) Assertive Participants. It is a fact that the most powerful, assertive and confident people in the group propose the most ideas. The rest of the group tacitly accept them with very few additional ideas generated; it is extremely difficult for quiet and introverted people to make a difference even if they might have the best ideas!
These shortcomings, however, can be addressed to significantly improve brainstorming sessions (which are probably better referred to as Group Working). Trial and Error can be replaced with structured thinking processes. Psychological Inertia can be addressed with tools that encourage “out of the box” thinking and improved group working processes will ensure that all participants can contribute effectively.
Techniques for generating ideas vary between those that are suitable for a broad focus (where you need a lot of ideas) to those that require a narrow focus (where you need better ideas). The focus area is established during Framing/Problem Definition stage and it cannot be stressed enough that you need to have an adequate definition before attempting to generate ideas – otherwise different people will have different views and the ideas that are generated won’t have much relevance.
There is one technique, called Brain Writing, that is less associated with generating ideas per se but is more about how to improve working within a group. It will resolve the issue of assertive participants.
Techniques for generating ideas for a broad focus (lots of ideas) come from “creativity”. These tools break down the psychological inertia that prevent individuals from generating ideas. There are a huge number of creativity tools and there’s no reason to know them all. The ones described in this chapter provide a good range to suit most groups and problems:
* Random Connections
Techniques for generating ideas for a narrow focus (better quality ideas) come exclusively from “Triz”. These tools are based on the principle that somewhere, someone has already solved a problem similar to yours. Therefore, if you can access this prior information you can find a solution. It requires a good problem definition but is guaranteed to generate a range of high quality solutions in a very short period of time. Again, there are many different tools available and the selection below provides coverage for most:
* Inventive Principles
* Technical Contradictions
* Physical Contradictions
* Standard Solutions
When generating ideas, these are best placed into an “Ideas Bank”. This is simply a repository that holds all the ideas in one place. Once ideas have been generated the final step is to refine the ideas in order to develop the options that will provide the best solution.
Preview of V3.2
03 December 2013
Latest enhancements to be included in V3.2
Nine Windows, System Mapping, Root Case Analysis, Trimming, Bubble Charts, MOE Profiles, Lots more Triz examples. These are some of the new and innovative features and will keep Promax at the leading edge of problem solving software. This version is due for release in Q1 2014 and is going through it's final testing phase.
The original prompts have been enhanced. There is now a visual representation of the nine widows (system operator, Time & Space) and clicking on one of the windows goes to a series of prompts specific to that window.
This tool allows you to visualise the problem. You add all the components and then link them to show the relationships. The yellow boxes describe the function. This methodology is sometimes called Subject-Action-Object and is commonly used by systems engineers and value engineers. You can have different colour boxes and lines to represent different aspects of the problem (e.g. useful effects, insufficient effects and harmful effects).
Root Cause Analysis
This is a diagrammatic representation of root causes. This provides a much richer analysis than the Five Why’s tool. You can list all the causes in a network to visualise the relationships. You can separate causes that are fact (proven) with those that are based on opinion.
This Triz tool is integrated with the systems mappping tool to help identify areas where the system can be improved. The first part of the table is automatically populated based on the system map (subject, action and object). Then, there is a series of prompts with space for answers to help to identify improvements.
We have added a third dimension to the scatter chart that produces a bubble scaled for the third dimension.
Measures of Effectiveness profiling
We have enhanced the Measures of Effectiveness (MOE) tool to show the progress from "Where we are now" to "Where we want to be". It is tightly integrated with the rest of the Cogentus Framework to show movement towards the "Ideal Final Results" (Ideality) and demonstrating better "Value For Money".
Extra Triz Examples
We now include nearly 2,500 examples of inventive principles, standard solutions, patterns of technology development and technologies by function. These are all real-world examples that can be used to help you in your own specific problem.
Please note that these screen shots are from the version currently being tested. They may vary slightly when it is formally released.
Annual Review 2008-2012
29 April 2013
What we've been doing over the last 5 years
Cogentus has reached its 5 year Anniversary and we can look back on an exciting beginning. In that time we have delivered to Clients right across the world. We would like to thank all those who have supported us and hope you find this review informative and interesting.
The review is a summary of what we’ve done in our first five years. It includes how our software has progressed as well as the many different people and places we’ve been lucky enough to be involved with.
The Annual Review contents are as follows:
1. Gap Closure Process. A brief explanation of our process for solving tricky problems. It is a robust, proven framework for innovation.
2. Promax Software. How our software has evolved over time to support the gap closure process.
3. University Guide. An example of a specific application of our decision engine.
4. Sectors. The markets and areas we work in.
5. Customers and Partners. Who we’ve worked with over the last 5 years.
6. Where We’ve Been. The places we’ve worked in over the last 5 years.
7. Published Papers. A list of all the papers that we’ve had published since we started.
8. Student Projects. Projects the London School of Economics (LSE) students have carried out for us.
9. Charitable Causes. The charities we’ve supported.
10. How the Business has Developed. A timeline of events from 2008 to the present.
11. Service Offerings. What we now offer.
WM2013 Papers at Phoenix
03 March 2013
We presented two papers at the recent Waste Management conference in Phoenix
Investing in International Information Exchange Activities to Improve the Safety, Cost Effectiveness and Schedule of Cleanup
With decreasing budgets and increasing pressure on completing cleanup missions as quickly, safely and cost-effectively as possible, there is significant benefit to be gained from collaboration and joint efforts between organizations facing similar issues. With this in mind, the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) have formally agreed to share information on lessons learned on the development and application of new technologies and approaches to improve the safety, cost effectiveness and schedule of the cleanup legacy wastes. To facilitate information exchange a range of tools and methodologies were established. These included tacit knowledge exchange through facilitated meetings, conference calls and Site visits as well as explicit knowledge exchange through document sharing and newsletters. A DOE web-based portal has been established to capture these exchanges and add to them via discussion boards. The information exchange is operating at the Government-to-Government strategic level as well as at the Site Contractor level to address both technical and managerial topic areas. This effort has resulted in opening a dialogue and building working relationships. In some areas joint programs of work have been initiated thus saving resource and enabling the parties to leverage off one another’s activities. There is an appreciation that effective information exchange is a labor-intensive process which requires up front investment and delivers both tangible, and intangible benefits. There are multiple obstacles to success that need to be overcome including commercial sensitivities, equitable exchanges and the ‘not invented here’ syndrome and progress is often slower than desired. However, the experience to date is that it only takes one or two successful exchanges or joint initiatives to justify the investment and the greater the number of exchanges the greater the overall benefit. The potential benefits of high quality information exchange are significant, ranging from cost avoidance through identification of an approach to a problem that has been proven elsewhere to cost sharing and joint development of a new technology to address a common problem. The benefits in outcomes significantly outweigh the costs of the process. The applicability of the tools and methods along with the lessons learned regarding some key issues is of use to any organization that wants to improve value for money. In the waste management marketplace, there are a multitude of challenges being addressed by multiple organizations and the effective pooling and exchange of knowledge and experience can only be of benefit to all participants to help complete the cleanup mission more quickly and more cost effectively. This paper examines in detail the tools and processes used to promote information exchange and the progress made to date. It also discusses the challenges and issues involved and proposes recommendations to others who are involved in similar activities.
How the NDA Provides Transparency and Visibility of the Technical Deliverability of the R&D Programme
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is accountable for delivery of decommissioning and clean up of the UK's civil nuclear legacy. The NDA's core objective is to ensure that the historic civil public sector nuclear legacy sites are decommissioned safely, securely, cost effectively and in ways that protect the environment. The delivery will involve carrying out many unique projects within a high hazard environment requiring the very highest standards in safety, security and environmental management. Unique problems require unique solutions and there is a substantial amount of research and development required for each project. The R&D strategic objective of the NDA is to ensure that sufficient and appropriate research and development is being carried out to technically underpin the delivery programme. This drives a requirement to provide transparency and visibility of the technical deliverability of the programme through the technical baseline and accompanying research and development requirements. The NDA need to have confidence in the technical deliverability of the Site License Companies (SLCs) plans, provide overall visibility of R&D across the NDA Estate and ensure that appropriate R&D is being carried out in a timely manner. They need to identify where coordinated R&D programmes may be advantageous as a result of common needs, risks and opportunities and ensure key R&D needs across NDA are identified, prioritised and work programmes are costed and scheduled in the Lifetime Plans for individual sites and SLCs. Evidence of the Site License Company's approach and their corresponding technical underpinning programmes is achieved through submission of a number of outputs collectively known as TBuRDs (Technical Baseline and Underpinning Research and Development Requirements). This paper is a summary of the information generated by the TBuRDs. It highlights some of the key messages, synergies and common R&D activities across the estate. It demonstrates the value of a consistent approach to collecting R&D data across multiple Sites with a view to enhancing knowledge transfer and improving delivery efficiency. It will be of interest to all who are running R&D programmes where other programmes may be carrying out similar activities.
Finalist in Wiltshire Award
13 February 2013
We have proudly been chosen as a finalist in the Enterprising Wiltshire Awards "Export" category
The Enterprising Wiltshire Awards celebrate Wiltshire’s top exporters, innovators and start-ups while providing the ultimate winner – The Enterprising Wiltshire Awards Business of the Year – with a bespoke package of support and networking opportunities to help it fulfil its potential.
Chris Simpson from Wessex Chambers said: “We’ve had a great response from businesses right across the county and we’re still getting enquiries. We’re also delighted with the sheer variety of businesses that have entered including a cave diving firm, parenting programmes, bookkeepers, hairdressers, pop-up shops, classic car restorers and wine importers. It’s an amazing snapshot of what’s going on in the commercial world in Wiltshire."
Research and Development Requirements
15 October 2012
The NDA has published a summary of an independent review of the work being carried out at site level to identify requirements for research and development (R&D).
Click here to visit the NDA website and download the document.
"All SLCs must produce a detailed annual assessment of the technical issues that are being addressed through R&D, predicted timeframes for deployment of the technologies and progress over the previous year. The comprehensive documents are known collectively as Technical Baseline and Underpinning Research and Development requirements, or TBuRDs.
The TBuRDs provide visibility of challenges facing the estate and enable co-ordinated activities to be planned, costed and implemented more effectively.
The Summary of Independent Peer Review and Analysis of SLC TBuRD Submissions provides highlights of a more detailed review of the documents, which was carried out by independent consultants. The review, which benchmarked the NDA process against international equivalents, assessed the TBuRDs as best practice for oversight of complex R&D and identifying potential synergies for collaborative working."
Cogentus was commissioned to carry out an independent peer review of the technical documents prepared by the SLCs. This paper is a summary of the review. Its aim is to highlight some of the key messages across the estate and to reflect on how the TBuRD process is improving the SLCs' understanding of R&D as well as the NDA's understanding of R&D.
Supply Chain Charter
19 August 2012
The Supply Chain Charter for nuclear decommissioning sites aims to foster good working relations across the NDA estate's supply chain, with all parties signing up to a set of principles encouraging mutually beneficial and rewarding relationships.
The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) places certain contracts but day-to-day management and delivery of the 19 site programmes is the responsibility of seven Site Licence Companies (SLCs). The SLCs directly contract with the supply chain for the goods and services they need to meet their programmes.
The two-page charter is a simple set of principles that are important to the NDA and the Site Licence Companies. The NDA is confident that its suppliers also share these values and would be willing to sign up to the charter.
The NDA and Site Licence Companies worked together to formulate the charter which arose out of the NDA's new Supply Chain Development Strategy adopted in May 2009. The final version has evolved following external consultation with the supply chain and those representing it.
During consultation for the Strategy, a range of possible NDA and SLC initiatives were identified, but feedback from suppliers indicated improvements that were desirable at the Tier 2, 3 and 4 levels of the supply chain. As NDA and the SLCs value the whole supply chain, the concept of a Supply Chain Charter was identified to help deliver the following:
- For all levels of the supply chain to 'be a good client'
- To foster good working relations and
- Improve planning and performance through all tiers of the supply chain supporting the NDA estate.
The NDA currently spends more than £2.8 billion a year, of which circa £1.3 billion enters the supply chain at a range of levels below the Site Licence Companies.
Greece Strategy Canvas
11 June 2012
Support at a challenging time.
We have been successful in winning a bid to provide strategy consulting advice to a Greek organisation. The funding is shared between the EU and the Greek Government and is aimed at providing support to companies in Greece to help them through the current economic crisis – the so called "structural adjustment for small businesses". The funding will allow us to provide technical assistance in the form of strategy development. We will be using our take on the blue ocean strategy and creating a strategy canvas that will help the organisation develop new markets, products and services and to structure their business to use more of their advantages. The funding also allows for a local company to provide training to employees to re-skill or up-skill. This innovative stimulus package therefore provides much needed help in preparing for and coping with what is undoubtable extremely challenging times in Greece. There were over a thousand tenders submitted and only 187 successful.
Sunday (June 17th) is the Greek elections which have huge global importance. It could preciptate the break up of the Eurozone and cause massive dispruption to everyone. But the situation in Greece is dire. This article in the UK Daily Telegraph summarises the situation.
Phoenix Open Day
24 February 2012
Cogentus holding open day at WM2010
Venue: Hyatt Regency Phoenix 122 N Second Street, Phoenix.
Room: Borein B (Second Floor)
Date: Tuesday February 28th , 10am to 5pm.
The aim of this event is to introduce you to Cogentus. We are a small business specializing in problem solving and data analytics. We will have sessions where people can come and discuss issues that we may be able to help with and also some short sessions for learning new skills. You will also receive a free1 version of our leading decision support software Promax. Space is limited but no booking
is required. First come first served.
10:00 – 10:45 Open Session.
Come along and meet. If you wish to discuss anything on dealing with a business problem; be it prioritization, measuring effectiveness, solving a tricky technical problem or sharing information we are there to share our thoughts.
11:00 – 11:30 Creativity Tools.
This is a half hour session to teach four useful tools for coming up with lots and lots of ideas. These tools can be taken back to the workplace and used right away. Guaranteed to be more effective than traditional brainstorming.
11:30 – 12:00 Q&A
12:00 – 13:45 Open Session.
14:00 – 14:30 Promax Demonstration.
This is a half hour session to introduce you to Promax. We will use the software to illustrate a downselection problem and explain some of the more sophisticated requirements of selection such as value mapping, weighting criteria and stakeholder perspectives.
14:30 – 15:00 Q&A
15:00 – 15:45 Open Session.
16:00 – 16:30 Triz Tools.
This is a half hour session to introduce you to Triz – the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. This will be a very brief coverage of some of the most useful Triz tools that will open your mind to a methodology for solving really difficult technical problems.
16:30 – 17:00 Open Session
Promax V2 Launched
25 January 2012
Get the latest in decision support software
We have launched Version 2 of our Promax software. There are many new features that enhance decision support and data analytics including:
- Enhanced import and export.
- User defined words and colours.
- Refined and improved output displays.
- Additional criteria mapping types.
- Additional method for weighting criteria (Pairwise Weighting).
- Improved mindmapping features for options.
- Improved notes features.
- Creativity and Problem Solving tools.
- Enhanced results filtering.
- Enhancements to resource allocation (At Least One Option and Relationships) – Promax Professional only.
Best Practices For Portfolio Management
23 January 2012
The USDoE Environmental Management Program Summary has an article on our prioritization methodology.
A rigorous prioritization process has been developed for the selection of projects for the EM AR&TD Program portfolio. This prioritization process considers the benefit of developing and deploying the technology, the cost of development, the feasibility for achieving the benefit, and the sites that will benefit. The technologies are assessed from a systems perspective, using realistic assumptions and considering the expectations for maturing technologies and the economics of AR&TD investments.
OTID has adapted a prioritization process that has been used effectively in the United Kingdom for systematically identifying and evaluating options to help solve complex problems with clarity and confidence. The process, known as the Cogentus Framework, is particularly effective where there is a high level of stakeholder interest and where there are conflicting requirements that need to be balanced such as in the EM cleanup and closure program. The key benefits of the Cogentus Framework are that it incorporates consistency and rigor is transparent and auditable incorporates stakeholder input and ownership, and is structured and comprehensive.
The prioritization effort collected information on a wide range of technology needs in waste processing, groundwater and soil remediation, nuclear materials and D&D from across the complex. Information was collected on 125 needs in total. In order to address these technology needs in a more efficient manner, they were analyzed and consolidated into 30 program elements. The combination of the individual needs’ cost and benefits were calculated and entered into the prioritization models for assessment. The assessment reviewed the benefit profiles predicted for each program element, the amount being spent to realize those benefits, and the risks of not delivering the need. The balance of the program was also analyzed to ensure there was an acceptable mix of DOE Sites so the key drivers were adequately addressed. Finally, future investment requirements were considered such that if the program was approved, the future mortgage would be understood.
Structured Prioritization Approach for Maximizing the Benefits of Programmatic Investments
13 October 2011
Virtually all large organizations must prioritize their projects based on potential limitations, including available funds.
A paper on the prioritization of the D&D Program for the US Department of Energy has been published in the journal TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION . This is a forum for presentation of information encompassing essentially the entire field of applied sciences with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation.
Independent Peer Review and Analysis of SLCs’ Technical Baseline and Underpinning R&D (TBuRD) Submission.
05 October 2011
Review and analyse TBuRDs
We have been awarded a contract to review and analyse the underpinning R&D submissions from the UK Site Licence Companies (SLCs).
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) R&D strategic objective is to ensure that delivery of the NDA’s mission is technically underpinned by sufficient and appropriate R&D. The Site Licence Companies (SLCs) inform the NDA of their technology development plans through the Technical Baseline and underpinning Research and Development (TBuRD) documents.
The specification for the TBuRDs is set out in EGG10, and the latest documents were submitted to NDA during March/April 2011. These submissions have been collated and the NDA required that the TBuRDs are to be independently reviewed to aid understanding as to whether sufficient and appropriate R&D is planned and to identify common R&D requirements (needs, risks and/or opportunities) across the NDA estate.
The general scope of work is to carry out an independent review of both the TBuRD process and the SLC submissions against the EGG 10 requirements. It is also to analyse the TBuRD information to support both assurance activities and the strategic development of future R&D programmes.
Across The Pond Portal Launched
28 September 2011
We have launched a web-based Information Portal to facilitate information sharing among the nuclear community as a whole
There is an agreement between UKNDA and DOE to collaborate and share information in the field of nuclear technology, legacy waste management (including spent fuels), D&D, contractor incentivization, policy and contract management
Why does it exist?
The scale, scope, technical issues and challenges of the respective programs are similar. With reducing budgets there is a need for collaboration, cooperation and a renewed focus on ‘lessons learned’ and information sharing.
The portal is split into a number of topic areas that are of interest to both the US and UK.
Nuclear Materials Disposition
- Non standard fuels disposition
- Plutonium management
- Aging facilities management
- Fuel drying technologies and dry storage
- Decontamination technologies
- In situ decommissioning
- Sodium Passivation
- Thermal treatment technologies
- Glass chemistry/formulation
- Hot Isostatic Pressing
- Sludge retrieval
- Ion exchange resin disposal
- Project Management
- Supply chain management
- Technology Readiness Levels
Marymount University using Promax
06 September 2011
School of Business Administration using Promax
Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia are using Promax as part of their teaching aids for students of Management Science in the School of Business Administration.
Marymount University is a coeducational, four-year Catholic university that has its main campus located in Arlington, Virginia. Marymount offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a wide range of disciplines and has a diverse and welcoming academic community with approximately 3,600 students representing approximately 40 states and 70 countries.
The school grants bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, undergraduate and graduate certification, and pre-professional programs in teaching, law, medicine and physical therapy.
Marymount University's nationally ranked MBA program prepares graduates for broader management responsibilities in business. Students can tailor their studies to meet specific career objectives with specializations in finance, health care management, human resource management, information technology, international business, legal administration, and marketing. The average GMAT score for an MU MBA student is 650, with an average undergraduate GPA of 3.6.
The MBA program has recently ranked among the top 20 regional, part-time MBA programs, according to US News & World Report, while the undergraduate business program ranks among the top 50 university business programs in the country and among the top four undergraduate business programs in Virginia.
In September 2009, BusinessWeek ranked Marymount University's MBA program as one of the 30 best part-time programs in the Nation.
The School of Business Administration offers graduate programs that provide a strong foundation in business principles, as well as instruction in the latest technological advances. Graduate students can take advantage of full- or part-time study options, with an emphasis placed on evening and Saturday classes that are convenient for the working professional. Faculty advising, peer networking, and a cutting-edge education afford a wide array of professional opportunities in the Washington, DC, region.
Merlin CFD Conference
27 June 2011
Cogentus presented work on Accountabilities.
Cogentus has been supporting Merlin in developing an understanding of Financial Accountabilities. We presented the work at the annual Country Finance Directors event and held an interactive session to update and obtain additional information.
Merlin is the UK's leading charity specialising in international health, sending medical experts to the frontline of global emergencies. This work is being carried out on a pro-bono basis as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility policy.
Advisor to Colombian Government
18 May 2011
Troubleshooter, Santiago Castro, a Colombian who lives in London, is revolutionizing the field of decision-making in complex situations.
Santiago Castro, Head of Research at Cogentus, was recently interviewed by Poder 360 - a premier business magazine written for a global audience of influential senior business and political decision-makers. Its coverage on the U.S. Hispanic market and Latin America have made it an influence in the social, economic, political and cultural arenas.
"The success of any project, even life, is based on good decision-making. Reaching the correct determination is not easy, especially with the complexities presented either by the number of options or the interests of stakeholders. A Colombian who lives in London(England), Santiago Castro, is an expert on the issue and advises governments, organisations and companies to achieve efficiency through a very useful methodology, which relies on processes and new software technologies. Last year, Castro was invited to Colombia to present their experience in different forums, which was heard by the Minister for Finance , Juan Carlos Echeve rry, who has been interested in using this method/strategy to support the prioritization of projects that could be financed with resources from royalties."
Presentation at Informs 2011
02 May 2011
Developing the pool of customers, a step by step methodology presented at Informs Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research, Chicago, April 10-12, 2011.
Cogentus was invited to present the results of its most recent research at this recognized international venue for the Business Analytics and Operations Research community. In partnership with Lapiz, a US-based advertising agency, Cogentus has developed a step by step methodology to assess perception gaps between customer’s expectations and brands offering; identifying leverage points to develop the pool of customers of our clients.
Enhancing strategic marketing analysis, this methodology offers valuable insights on how to increase sales by influencing the behavior of potential customers (i.e. those that are only aware or to some extent informed about the brand) to stimulate them to move along the clientele pipeline. They need to be convinced by the brand, to become regular users and then to spread by word of mouth their positive impressions.
Successful Triz Workshop
02 May 2011
Cogentus ran a problem solving workshop for a Client who had been struggling with an issue for 6 months. Using our Triz tools and techniques, we had a concept solution within the first half a day. This concept was further challenged and refined over the next day and a half.
The Engineering Manager remarked that "Excellent facilitation was one of the driving factors in aiding our team during problem solving. Triz is an effective process alone but the knowledge of Tim and Ian made the difference for our application."
The Vice President and Chief Engineer said: "Very productive. (We) were able to focus on and deliver a plan / potential solution for our specific problem."
New US Office
21 March 2011
Our new address is 1101 30th St, NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20007.
Cogentus LLC has moved offices to Georgetown. This offers a superior location for growing our business and taking advantage of our small business status in the US.
We plan to run a number of training sessions from this office in Creativity, Triz and the use of our Promax software. In addition to excellent facilities in the office, Georgetown is one of the nicest areas of DC with many cafes, bars, restaurants and shops. In short it is an excellent place for attendees to learn some amazing things in a vibrant and interesting environment.
Cogentus on GSA schedule
16 March 2011
Cogentus products and services are now approved on the GSA schedule # GS-35F-0265X.
This means our products and services are available for immediate use by government agencies in the US.
This approval, in addition to the NASA SEWP schedule, and puts us in a strong position to grow our business with the government over the next 5 years.
We will work with you to choose a product or produce a Statement of Work to deliver professional services. Then our reseller, ImmixGroup, will arrange the purchase. They have close collaboration with GSA personnel at all levels which will result in a well-defined contract that provides:
- Clear terms;
- A path for quick modifications;
- A high level of comfort and confidence between immixGroup and GSA; and
- A stable platform for our collective growth for years to come
DOE- NDA Newsletter Published
23 January 2011
Winter DOE- NDA Newsletter Published
The winter edition of the regular newsletter highlighting the joint efforts on technology development activities is available. Articles include a report on the Standing Committee, updates on the topics areas and various visit reports.
23 January 2011
UK Office of Government Commerce on MoV
The UK Office of Government Commerce has recently published guidance on managing value. It claims to provide principles, processes and techniques for delivering the best value for money possible but is a rather basic affair which doesn't offer anything that other books already include. There are many books that offer better coverage and, strangely for a book on managing value, its treatment on value-based judgments is almost non-existent and poorly covered where it is mentioned. For instance there is nothing on value mapping, how to work with multiple stakeholder viewpoints or even what weighting actually means in practice. It seems to have been written by individuals without the benefit of knowing that there is, in fact, a wide academic community and an academic foundation for value-based methodologies for decision making.
If you would like to hear more from experts in demonstrating value for money then please contact us to arrange a discussion.
Contributing to International Development
15 September 2010
Presence in Latin America
FENALCO, the National Retail Federation of Colombia, has invited Cogentus Head of Research, Santiago Castro, to give a 1 hour presentation during their last Merchants National Congress, that was held between the 8th and 10th of September 2010.
It was an occasion to demonstrate how our modern techniques and methodologies can help companies from very different industries to overcome challenging problems and sustain long term profits.
Colombian Merchants National Congress takes place once a year aiming to inform the guild about innovative techniques, state-of-the-art technologies as well as global trends and topics of general interest for all retailers. It is also a space to strengthen economic links, create partnerships and launch new projects at a national and internation level.
LSE Student Placements
25 August 2010
Three New Student Placements from LSE
We are pleased to welcome three students from the London School of Economics who are carrying out their summer projects with us. All three of the projects include a research and a practical element, confirming our insistence on combining academic research with practical applications.
Konstantinos Vogklis is looking at Data Visualisation for Strategic Market Analysis. This project is conducted in conjuction with a major Telecommunications Company in Greece and is aiming at finding clear and insightful ways to display market research results for non-specialised audiencies.
Ioannis Koutrakos is looking at the Integration of the Cogentus Framework with Systems Dynamics Modeling. Ioannis is exploring ways of using Systems Dynamics Modeling to assess complex systems which can model interactions and whole systems over time.
Adam Fung is the third LSE student and is conducting a strategic planning analysis for tyhe future of Promax, our Multi criteria Decision Analysis Software. Adam is working towards identifying what features can be included in the software and add value to our MCDA approach.
This is the third consecutive year of successful association with LSE postgraduate students. We find that by combining hi-standard academic research with practical applications into the business arena Cogentus can offer to its clients a constantly renewed and sounded Framework methodology.
Synergies between System Dynamics and MCDA
05 July 2010
Inspiring research with practice: exploring links between System Dynamics Modeling and Multi- Criteria Decision Analysis techniques
Based on data resulting from market research carried out by Lapiz. a US based advertising agency specialised in providing communication support to business in the US, this summer Cogentus carried out joint research to explore synergies between System Dynamics Modeling (SDM) and Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) techniques that could enhance strategic marketing analyis.
Having applied MCDS techniques using Promax software to provide synthetic visual mappings of the market space, monitor product performance and suggest strategic moves to clients (Castro, 2009), this new research extended findings of how SDM can be used to complement the initial picture by identifying the casual roots of market space's situation. In other words MCDA can help producing a diagnosis of the current state of play in a particular market space, whereas SDM allow explaining to the client why the market behaves as a system in a particular way.
In particular qualitative SDM can be used to the initial problem structuring i.e. identify criteria and generate a value tree. At the same time when MCDA is supported by adequate visual software, it can serve as powerful monitoring tool and as tool to efficiently communicate performance. Simultaneously SDM can explain the causal roots of a particular of a particular performance level (or the discrepancy of performance between teo time points), as well as help identifying leverage points, in order to design policies to improve performance on one or various criterion. MCDA can then be used in order to simulate what- if scenarios and quantitative SDM in order to test the proposals. Finally MCDA can be used as a tool to evaluate and choose between alternative policies based on a resource allocation approach. The purpose of this ste is double: (a) to prioritise the actions that can improve the system, (b) to act as a policy generator, in order to investigate the long term concequencies of the selected portfolio. In summary, the combination of these MCDA and SDM can add significant value when analysing marketing and business performance.
In addition, to measure performance and depict where the system underperforms, two different MCDA models were built this summer based on two recognised marketing science concept i.e. the 7Ps marketing mix theoretical framework and the customer perceived value (CPV). First the 7Ps model helped expressing the company's perspective in measuring performance, while the CPV model allowed expressing the consumers' perspective in measuring performance. The interest of using MCDA in this type of analysis is that Promax software allows integrating various relative values in the same model (e.g. the client's perspective vs the customers' perspective) to produce any performance assessment of a company. Subsequently relationships between the attributes of each conceptual approach were identified in practice. This was achieved by depicting consumers' and companies' values and their dynamic interactions in the Causal Loops Diagrams (CLD) of corresponding SDMs.
The reason for exploring synergies between System Dynamics and MCDA is not trivial: in fact, it is based on the advantages that a multi- methodological approach offers. Adopting different approaches in order to tackle a real- world problemhas the strength that each one reveals certain aspects of the world but maybe blind to others and therey each instrument produces a different and, often complementary representation, enriching the overall analysis while expanding views.
Currently Cogentus offers clients a step by step methodology to ensure that MCDA and SDM are jointly used for effective marketing interventions:
- The first step is to identify the product attributes that a segment looks for
- The second step is to identify the relationships between these attributes, using a CLD.
- The third step is to measure the performance of the subject in these particular attributes, depicting whether the system underperforms
- The fourth step is to identify, via the system's structure, how the subject could perform better
- The fifth step is to evaluate, prioritise and select the actions which could help the system to perform better and therefore generate alternative policies. This step is using a MCDA resource allocation model
- Finally, the sixth step is to investigate the long- term consequencies of the selected portfolios
The literature which focuses on the links between MCDA and SD is limited; however, interest in this topic is currently increasing. See more research on the subject:
Launch of New Promax Standard 2010
15 April 2010
Launch of Promax Standard 2010
We have just launched Promax 2010 Standard, our new software which offers a new perspective on providing insightful solutions to complex business problems.
At its simplest it can be used for evaluating a number of options, against criteria, to determine which option is best. The results are presented in a clear user friendly manner and is ideal for many day to day business decisions.
For more information, please go to our products.
Awards received at international conference
10 April 2010
Awards received at international conference
We won two awards at the Indian Business Academy international conference on Emergent Business Models and Strategies for the Knowledge Economy held in Bangalore. One was for "the most valuable contribution to the Conference" and the second was for the "Best Presented Paper". This paper illustrated out research in scope insensitivity and methods for solving the issue.
DOE-NDA INFORMATION EXCHANGE NEWSLETTER ISSUED
We have just issued the first Newsletter describing the work undertaken between the US DOE and the UK NDA for radioactive waste clean up. The Newsletter is a quarterly update on the joint activities and initiatives.
STRATEGY CANVAS ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN INFORMS MAGAZINE
We have had an article published in Informs Magazine on our Strategy Canvas approach. This is an approach to strategy where organisations try to create market space that isn’t in competition with others. This unique approach to strategy is proven to increase profits. Informs is The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and is the largest professional society in the world for professionals in the field of operations research (O.R.).
“EXPLORING A NEW DIMENSION OF MCDA TO MODEL THE MARKET SPACE” CONFERENCE PAPER
Cogentus was invited to present its paper “Exploring a new dimension of MCDA to model the market space” in the Ninth International Conference on Operations and Quantitative Management that took place in Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, June 27 – 30. It was an excellent opportunity to expose Cogentus’ original approach to stimulate strategic creativity in front of renowned senior academics and practitioners of the Decision Science community. The presentation was followed by numerous stimulating reactions. Cogentus methodology is based on robust academic work and by taking an active role in International forums of discussion we want to constantly feed our approach by the most recent advances and specialised views. This event was also an opportunity for networking and collaboration with scholars from academia, industry and government.
LSE STUDENT PLACEMENT
We are pleased to welcome two students from the London School of Economics who are carrying out their summer projects with us. Sana Kazmi is looking at Negotiation modelling and how MCDA is used practically in that field. Fani Kontidou is looking at practical responses to scope insensitivity. Both Sana and Fani are in the Decision Science faculty completing their Masters. Both projects include a research and a practical element and continue our successful association with LSE postgraduate students. We find that by combining hi-standard academic research with practical applications into the business arena Cogentus can offer to its clients a constantly renewed and sounded Framework methodology.
STRATEGIC INSIGHTS IN MARKET RESEARCH
We are working with the renowned market research firm Lapiz to build various standardised tools that will provide valuable strategic insights when analysing market research results. Lapiz is a premier Hispanic marketing communication agency in the USA, originally formed as the Hispanic Division of Leo Burnett USA.
PROMAX RANKING AND PROMAX EFFICIENCY LAUNCH
We have recently launched our new software for decision support. Promax Ranking is used for decisions where you need to select between a range of options. Promax Efficiency is used to create optimized portfolios.
COGENTUS RAN A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL STAND AT THE 2008 AWE TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION EXHIBITION.
The Technology and Innovation Exhibition was a lively and bustling trade exhibition run by AWE with over a thousand visitors during the day. Exhibitors displayed a range of innovative engineering products and consulting services.
The Cogentus stand was busy, with a high level of interest shown throughout the day. The Cogentus team, all of whom have experience of AWE, handled a range of enquiries about our portfolio optimisation and technology selection methods. We talked through our track record and distributed a range of subject-specific brochures. The free Cogentus mugs and pens also proved extremely popular and a reorder will be needed before the next trade show!
It was also nice to meet up with a number of our former colleagues during the day. Thanks to our hosts at AWE for running an enjoyable day.
A NEW APPROACH TO SELECT PARTNERSHIP ALTERNATIVES FOR CHRISTIAN AID
Christian Aid is undergoing a period of transformational growth. Having recognised that the role of businesses as development actors is indispensable for delivering maximum benefits to the world's neediest, the international development charity has decided to engage more fully with corporations. Within its charitable causes scheme, Cogentus provided the services of a Senior Analyst, Santiago Castro, to assist Christian Aid in developing a structured corporate partnership strategy. As many Non-Profit and Non-Governmental Organisations are increasingly considering private sector partnerships, a key strategic concern is deciding on an efficient way to actively chose the best companies to engage with and maximise the impact and influence of activities.
Even if private sector partnerships present potentially significant income and partnership opportunities for charities, developing such corporate partnerships strategy implies a major challenge: Corporate partnerships should not compromise the Non-Profit Organization's main objectives or alienate their identity. The Cogentus Framework fitted perfectly into a process needing to start from the values and objectives that were already established for the organization as a whole.
Added value of the approach
The strategy had to establish, primarily, that any potential partners met the ethical requirements of Christian Aid. Only after this check was carried out were suitable organisations considered. The Cogentus Framework enabled a coherent analysis of potential benefits and risks to provide the best fit for Christian aid given limited resources.
As part of the Framework, a structure to organise and keep track of the available information was created. This allowed for the collection of data on each company and established an internal database that offered a 360 degree view of Christian Aid’s relationships with business. The information can be retrieved according to a number of different categories (e.g. by sector of activity, triple bottom line factor, geographical area, objective of the engagement, etc)
Finally a computer model was created, fed with the information available in the database. This model offered a very comprehensive mapping of all the possible combination of engagements and produced a ranking order that allowed Christian Aid to maximise the overall benefit of the corporate partnership strategy.
The approach was transparent and auditable and it offered a solid base to take decision that were defensible with real evidence.
TESTIMONIAL FROM DOE
Mark Gilbertson of the DoE has written a letter of thanks praising the work done by Cogentus and NuVision on the Office of Waste Processing Multi Year Programme Plan (MYPP). Mr. Gilbertson writes;
"...we would like to take this opportunity to commend you for your professional efforts and energy in working with the Headquarters and field laboratory team that resulted in the preparation of this technology investment planning document. We are most fortunate in having you as part of our team and we look forward to your continued participation."
LSE SUMMER PLACEMENT
We are very pleased to announce that Santiago Castro will be joining Cogentus on a summer placement from the London School of Economics, where he has just completed his MSc in Decision Sciences. Ian Seed (Cogentus MD) said
"Santiago's placement with us continues our successful association with LSE postgraduate students. We find that the MCDA (Multi Criteria Decision Analysis) capability that they have is directly applicable to our Cogentus Framework methodology, and that students are able to make a real contribution. From the student's side, we know that Santiago will gain some immediate practical experience of applying the techniques with our US clients that will really benefit his studies".
COGENTUS OPENS US OFFICE
Cogentus has opened a new office in Washington DC to support their growing customer base in the United States. The whole company participated in the launch event in DC which aimed to set up the initial infrastructure and to initiate the recruitment process for US nationals.
The opening of this office represents an important milestone in the development of Cogentus and firmly establishes our presence in the US. The offices are centrally located on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The US branch of Cogentus has now been setup, with Cogentus LLC been formed on the 4th of March 2008. This is a significant development that will allow us to better serve our existing clients in the US and expand our business.
Paula James, our Head of Operations, said:
"The formation in the US will allow us to better build our business in the US and to recruit locally. We will use key people from the UK to transfer our culture, systems and knowledge to ensure that the US Office is fully equipped to deliver our capabilities."
COGENTUS SET IN MOTION
The 18th of February 2008 marks the official first day of Cogentus. We are pleased to annouce the team.
Ian Seed: A chartered Chemical Engineer and MBA with a background in major projects particularly front end, commissioning and finance, Ian is the Managing Director of Cogentus.
Paula James: A Chemist with a background in major projects particularly technical research & development and finance, Paula is the Head of Operations. Paula has 20 years experience in major programmes.
Duncan Cameron: Over twenty years experience in the roles of Project Manager, Business Analyst and Principal Consultant working for a number of years with one of the 'big4' global consultancies.
Dimos Gaganis: An Economist and Decision Scientist, Dimos is the technical specialist in promax. He has a an MSc in Decision Sciences from the London School of Economics and has been heavily involved with management decision-making in Pharma, Nuclear and Government.
Richard Hewer: Richard is a Data Analyst for Cogentus. He has over 6 years experience of working in Programme Management/ Programme Controls office looking at Major Capital Programmes.
This is closely knit team with complementary skills, where each member has considerable experiences in his/her respective field. It forms an excellent starting point for us to effectively fill our clients' needs.