“Innovation often arises out of crossing disciplines and combining technologies”.*
This is a battle I seem to have on a continuous basis – trying to convince people that innovation must be an interdisciplinary effort, and must involve people from almost every part of an organization, and outside the orgainzation. This is especially true if you are working towards wide open innovation of business processes, internal technologies, as well as new products. Good ideas and design input can (and must) come from everywhere.
Another aspect of this interdiscinplinary approach, and the cross pollination of ideas and technologies it encourages, leads to compounding of ideas in much the same way as one compounds interest – two innovative ideas combined together in a novel way lead to improved value much greater than either innovation on its own.
This (as well as the question of whether design for manufacturability comes before human factors, or vice versa) always reminds me of the old (?) idea of integrated product teams (I cannot recall where I first ran into this – whether it was in the telecom world or military projects). The fact remains that it is almost impossible to separate engineering, human factors, or any other aspects of design into entirely sequential steps – they must be integrated, collaborative, iterative activities.
As the referenced post points out, however, none of this matters unless the whole process brings value to some customer – it is not innovation if it does not bring value.
(*) Pushing the Boundaries of Design by Jessie Scanlon