Archive for December, 2012

A Cardboard Bicycle

December 6, 2012

innovationIt’s what everybody wants and all organizations need.


Innovation is a word used so often – it’s worthwhile to define to assure shared understanding. Innovation is a process. It is a particular kind of process that yields value. Innovation has three key factors: (1) it has to be replicable, (2) have a reasonable cost and (3) satisfy a specific need.

In the private sector, innovation is spurred by market competition to meet customer expectations or demands. In the social sector, it’s driven by a commitment to better serve a vulnerable population or remedy a social concern.

How Does Innovation Happen?

Most often the process of innovation involves a deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative that yields more, better or different value from resources. It includes all the processes which generate new ideas, services and products. There are two general types of innovation: evolutionary and revolutionary.

  • Evolutionary innovation reflects continuous incremental advances in an existing idea, service or product.
  • Revolutionary innovation is disruptive and entirely different or new.

A Chocolate Teapot & Cardboard Bike

Depending on where you sit, Izhar Gafni’s work may be tough to categorize. He has invented a cardboard bicycle. Initially, bikes were made of wood. These days, premium bikes are aluminum or carbon. But, Gafni’s model is a derivative of the original material: cardboard is a particular weight of paper that is wood-based. He uses origami principles to fold cardboard in a unique way and then coats it with resin before cutting out the shapes needed to create bike parts. He recycles solid rubber from car tires to create bike tires and the chain. Recycled bottles are the source of pedals and brakes.

Gafni’s cardboard bike weighs what most conventional bikes do and can support an adult rider. His innovation could help millions of people with basic transport. The cost is estimated at $9-12 a unit. Innovation is powerful. Even if you’re not in the market for a cheap bike, Gafni’s work can inspire…He created something feasible and strategic that sounds impossible!

Lisa Wyatt, Ed. D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillip Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See :

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