When solving complex design problems, people often use the phrase “its time to think outside of the box”. This is where true innovation happens, where new ideas are born and where new product ideas become the next big thing.

But what happens when long established, or small design teams think outside the box? Sometimes, just sometimes they truly innovate new solutions and new ideas. When this happens new Intellectual Property (IP) is created and truly innovative products and design solutions are born. However, thinking outside the box is not natural for a lot of people. The problem can become compounded If a design team has worked together for a long time, without fresh ideas from new team members. The smaller the design team, the harder it can be to come up with truly innovative design solutions.

To be truly innovative a company needs to employ new designers or a regular basis. This allows them to keep up with new technologies and gives them a diverse “Design Gene Pool” to dip in and out of. The most successful companies in the world take on multiple design engineers every year. Expanding their design gene pool making it much easier for them to come up with “out of the box” solutions to design problems.

Bad News?

This is rather bad news for small or cash strapped businesses who don’t have the budget to expand their own design gene pool. It can be difficult to think outside the box when you have been working on the same set of products for several years. It can become so bad that new products are not new products, but stale re-inventions of existing products.

How many times have you seen a truly innovative design from a well-established small business? It does happen from time to time, but not as often as it does for the larger companies. The reason for this is simple… Small, long established companies sometimes have a limited design gene pool. The bigger the pool, the easier it is to design a truly innovative product.

Good News!

Its not all bad news though. Small businesses can temporarily expand their design gene pool by partnering with an independent design consultancy (Such as White Horse CAD). This allows them to expand their design gene pool without growing their design team further than they may be comfortable with. Using a contractor for a few weeks is a lot more cost effective than taking on a new member of staff.

Employing staff is expensive! You must pay for pensions, holiday pay, sick pay, and that’s before you consider employee benefits such as private health or dental care. It would be reasonable to pay an experienced design engineer £20 per hour. As a rule of thumb an employee costs around 1.5 time their hourly rate. So, this employee is already costing you £30 an hour. You must also make sure you have enough work to fill this new employee’s time… This can be a real challenge for a small business. Taking on a new employee is starting to sound like a really big deal, when all you really need is some occasional design support.

If you’re a small business looking for fresh design ideas. Thinking outside the box can be as simple as using an independent design consultant such as White Horse CAD. This can be a much more cost-effective solution in both the short and long term, than taking on a new employee.

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