The balance between standards and innovation
Throughout history standards and innovation have been dependent on each other. So, how do those working in innovation at Easee deal with standards when creating new products?
To answer this, we spoke with our Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Kjetil Næsje. His interest in innovation started long before he knew the word or understood what it meant.
As we sat down to talk, we saw a real passion and sparkle in his eyes.
Standards are requirements and procedures that address many issues in an industry, from product function, manufacturing, interoperability, compatibility, and even health and safety. These standards are created and enforced by standards organizations.
These organizations are collections of businesses in the same industry (for example, electronics manufacturers), or people in the same profession (for example, electrical engineers). There is no legal requirement to follow standards, it is entirely up to the business.
Businesses benefit from standards because they reduce time-to-market and simplify product development. Customers benefit from standards because they make products safer and more functional.
“When innovating at Easee, we like to look at the standards as a recipe. Something that exists to help us, that is well thought through based on history. The standards contain a lot of experience and knowledge gathered from the industry globally.”
Kjetil’s impression is that the standards can easily be misunderstood as a simple checkbox for regulators.
“But the truth is, that it creates a foundational framework from which we can design specific solutions.”
What Kjetil explains is in many ways similar to baking a cake. Eggs, flour, sugar, baking soda and milk are the basic ingredients. The standard. You can also decide to add some nuts, chocolate, fudge, or sprinkles to the cake. And suddenly you have an innovation, an introduction of something new.
“You have a recipe but develop on it because you want to make something better and more exciting. There’s a lot of love behind the standards, and they are a great guide to keep our society both safe and more compatible.”
You can’t push forward innovation without challenging the old ways
At just 6 years of age and in the first grade of elementary school, Kjetil had a clear realisation that innovating and experimenting were what he was meant to do. It all began when he received an old TV transformer from his grandparents. From this gift he built his very own radio. Back then he could only dream that this passion for technology would result in him one day working to change the world.
“This is only the beginning for Easee, we dream of making life easier by creating an ecosystem to distribute our planets limited energy in a smarter and more sustainable way.”
To do so, Kjetil explains that we will have to understand, explore and challenge the standards to make room for innovation.
The standards help guide and influence what is possible today
Before mixing the ingredients and making the cake, or in his case the EV-charger, Kjetil had to sit down and read the recipe. Many weeks and months went into exploring the wording and intention behind the standards. Kjetil cannot express enough how valuable the standards are.
“The only downside is if you follow them so blindly that you no longer allow yourself to deep dive into the intention and what lies beyond the standard.”
He continues to explain that many developers can feel obligated to follow the standards 100% in every step of the way. Even though new ideas could create more value by making products safer, smarter, more affordable, and more sustainable.
“If you dare to develop even 1%, you need to know the relevant standards by heart to truly explore the possibilities within the intentions of the standards. You will also have to prove that you are aware of what you are doing and explain why you believe this is a better solution within the same intention as the previous solutions.”
Standards will always evolve
Kjetil explains that throughout history laws and standards have been updated and changed according to new development. Volvo for instance has in many ways been groundbreaking when it comes to safety development in the automotive industry.
“They introduced the first modern 3-point seatbelt, with the intention of making cars safer. But it wasn’t until over 10 years later that the federal government in the United States included seatbelts in the standard.”
He continues by stressing that the development of new and exciting technologies would not be possible if it wasn’t for companies who were brave enough to innovate and improve the established.
“Standards do not stay the same eternally. They change and are updated over time. We believe our way of doing things will one day end up in the standards for others to explore and continue to innovate on.”
As Kjetil takes the last sip of his coffee, he explains that it’s at the crossroads between innovation and established norms that Easee belongs, and that this is where he likes to be.
“We will have to face the standards, the established industry, wider society, and other people with strong opinions along the way. We will face friends but also enemies. This is exactly where Easee belongs; where innovation meets reality and where ideas come to life.”