Innovation in Practice Blog

October 23, 2017

Innovation Sighting: The Subtraction Technique and the No-Huddle Offense

Few activities are more iconic to American football than the huddle. Bill Pennington, in his New York Times article, “Ready, Set, Gone! The N.F.L.’s Disappearing Huddle” […]
October 5, 2017

Look Inside a Woman’s Purse

By: Tom Ewing, Senior Director, System1 Group “First I look at the purse” sang Motown’s The Countours. Kelley Styring, principal of InsightFarm, would sympathise. In 2006, […]
September 18, 2017

Innovation Sighting: Task Unification and GladWare Containers

GladWare containers have become a common household item. Most kitchens today have that designated drawer filled to the brim with self-stacking plastic wonders and the infamous […]
September 5, 2017

How a Creative Legal Leap Helped Create Vast Wealth

By Tim Harford, BBC World Service, 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy In 1911, someone asked Butler to name the most important invention of the industrial […]
August 29, 2017

Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector

Facing especially wicked problems, social sector organizations are searching for powerful new methods to understand and address them. Design Thinking for the Greater Good goes in […]
August 21, 2017

How a Case of Laryngitis Helped Me Find My Voice and Grow as a Leader

By Deb Gabor As a brand strategist, author, and public speaker, I rely upon my voice and storytelling ability to make a living. I’ve observed that […]
July 24, 2017

Should Innovators Reveal How Much They Let Technology Make Creative Choices?

Is it true? Do the most creative people generate ideas straight out of their heads without any outside help? That’s what most people would tell you. […]
July 3, 2017

Innovation Sighting: Attribute Dependency and The Total Eclipse of the Sun

The United States Postal Service has just released a “first-of-its-kind” stamp that changes appearance when you touch it. What has inspired this small nugget of innovation? […]
June 16, 2017

Innovation Sighting: Attribute Dependency and High Heels

A great example of the Attribute Dependency Technique can be found at My Place Café & Bar at the Hilton Osaka hotel in Japan. Attribute Dependency […]
June 9, 2017

Innovation Sighting: LG’s New Smart Vacuum Doubles as a Home Security System

The rush to put new technology in the home is heating up like never before. Challengersinclude Amazon (Echo), Google (Home), and soon we’ll have Apple’s Siri […]
March 16, 2015

Marketing Innovation: The Unification Technique in Outdoor Advertising

The Unification Tool is a tricky but effective tool for outdoor advertising. Unification recruits an existing resource and forces it to carry the advertising message. That resource can come from within the medium itself or within the environment of the medium. In other words, the tool uses an existing component of the medium or of its environment in a way that demonstrates the problem or the promise to be delivered.
July 21, 2014

Fusion: Linking Your Product to the Message to Create Great Packaging

Creative marketers use a clever little tool called fusion. Fusion links a product to a message in a creative way that communicates the value inherent in the product. Fusion creates a visual connection between the product and a symbol representing the value. When a customer sees that connection, they instantly understand the message and appreciate the value delivered by the product in a more powerful and subtle way.
January 20, 2014

The Partial Subtraction Technique: Betty Crocker’s Egg

In the 1950s, General Mills launched a line of cake mixes under the famous Betty Crocker brand. The cake mixes included all the dry ingredients in the package, plus milk and eggs in powdered form. All you needed was to add water, mix it all together, and stick the pan in the oven. For busy homemakers, it saved time and effort, and the recipe was virtually error free. General Mills had a sure winner on its hands. Or so it thought. Despite the many benefits of the new product, it did not sell well. Even the iconic and trusted Betty Crocker brand could not convince homemakers to adopt the new product.
December 23, 2013

How to Target Your Innovation

Companies get better results from innovation by targeting initiatives at the right places. Here are six areas to focus on:
May 20, 2013

Marketing Innovation: The Subtraction Tool in Saint Gobain Commercials

The Subtraction tool works by removing elements generally considered essential to the situation. The tool can be used in any marketing communications medium (television, print, and so on). The tool works by drwawing your attention to the missing component. As a result, the ad is more memorable. Subtraction is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them.
April 8, 2013

Innovation Sighting: The Attribute Dependency Technique in Pricing

While not popular, it is a classic example of the Attribute Dependency technique. Attribute Dependency is one of five techniques of the innovation method called SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking). It differs from the other techniques in that it uses attributes (variables) of the situation rather than components. Start with an attribute list, then construct a matrix of these, pairing each against the others. Each cell represents a potential dependency (or potential break in an existing dependency) that forms a Virtual Product. Using Function Follows Form, we work backwards and envision a potential benefit or problem that this hypothetical solution solves.
March 18, 2013

Marketing Innovation: Avocados and the Unification Tool

The Unification Tool is a tricky but effective advertising tool. Unification recruits an existing resource and forces it to carry the advertising message. That resource can come from within the medium itself or within the environment of the medium. In other words, the tool uses an existing component of the medium or of its environment in a way that demonstrates the problem or the promise to be delivered. The tool is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The tools are:
March 11, 2013

Marketing’s Seat at the Innovation Table

Where does your marketing department fit when it comes to innovation? In an article1 titled, "Improving Marketing's Contribution to New Product Development," these author's offer a dismal view: "The prevailing view in most companies is that marketing is not a distinct function, and therefore, everyone can do marketing. As a result, the status of the marketing department is in a steep decline, which is especially observable within the NPD process. This development is surprising because it seems that top innovators strongly involve the marketing department in the NPD process. Hence, strengthening the marketing department's position with respect to NPD should be a priority to improve innovation performance." I agree. But I believe the authors fall way short of what is needed to do that. "The prevailing view in most companies is that marketing is not a distinct function, and therefore, everyone can do marketing. As a result, the status of the marketing department is in a steep decline, which is especially observable within the NPD process. This development is surprising because it seems that top innovators strongly involve the marketing department in the NPD process. Hence, strengthening the marketing department's position with respect to NPD should be a priority to improve innovation performance." I agree. But I believe the authors fall way short of what is needed to do that.
February 11, 2013

Marketing Innovation: The Metaphor Tool Using the Division Pattern

The Metaphor is the most commonly used tool in marketing communications because it is a great way to attach meaning to a newly-launched product or brand. The Metaphor Tool takes a well-recognized and accepted cultural symbol and manipulates it to connect to the product, brand, or message. The tool is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The tools are:
January 7, 2013

The Fabulous Five

Five companies are slugging it out in what may be the most competitive and unique business battle of all time. It is larger in scale with more at stake than battles in other industries including transportation, energy, and finance. More remarkable is how different the combatants are from one another. Instead of similar companies competing (Toyota versus General Motors, for example), these companies hail from different business bases: an electronics manufacturer, a lifestyle computing company, an online retailer, a search engine, and a social network. In order: Samsung, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. I call them the Fabulous Five.