What is Innovation?

What is innovation? The dictionary definition is “a new method, idea, product, etc.” How does innovation happen? Do you ask what people like or want? Henry Ford once said, “if I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”

If people are asked what they want, they will think about it for a while, then answer with something like happiness, success, or perfection. Our wants are usually abstractions; ideas of things but not things at all. Not too helpful to someone trying to make life easier for everyone.

If you ask someone to tell you something they dislike, before you can start your next thought, you are hit by a litany of bad experiences with third grade teachers, football coaches, ill-fitting clothes, and broccoli. While our wants are conceptual, our dislikes are as concrete as concrete.

What Are Your Dislikes? Let Me Help You

If you are having trouble recalling some of your worst modeling traumas, let me share a few of mine to get the ball rolling.

Switching from Application to Application

Part one of my biggest pet peeve, is having to hop from a text file to a spreadsheet to another mapping or graphic application copying and pasting at each step. If something changes, and something always changes, then I have to do the hopping over and over again.

If there was something that would integrate the model inputs with an analysis tool (like a spreadsheet) and a mapping tool, my life would be so much easier.

This Format or That Format

Part two of my biggest pet peeve, is having to reformat data in between the hops between applications. One file has to have text that is space delimited while another defaults to tab delimited and still another likes commas best. If a proprietary format comes into play, make sure your cheat sheets are handy so every character is just in the right place or else nothing works.

It would be really nice if all the information for a modeling project was entered just once and never had to be reformatted again. Let the machine take care it as the information moves from step to step. Isn’t that what machines are for?


We at NaviKnow are committed to providing you with the information you need and the tools to put that informing into action. However, for us to give you want you want, please tell us you worst horror stories when it comes to dispersion modeling. If you are really easy going and not much gets under your skin, provide us with some of your annoyances. We really want to them.

If you found this article informative, there is more helpful and actionable information for you.  Go to http://learn.naviknow.com to see a list of past webinar mini-courses. Most every Wednesday (Webinar Wednesday), NaviKnow offers FREE webinar mini-courses on topics related to air quality dispersion modeling and air quality permitting. If you want to be on our email list, drop me a line at [email protected].

One of the goals of NaviKnow is to create an air quality professional community to share ideas and helpful hints like those covered in this article. So if you found this article helpful, please share with a colleague.