Here is an example of the Multiplication Template, one of five in the corporate innovation method called S.I.T.. It is from the Taylor Guitars, one of the leading companies in the category and one of the most innovative. The Multiplication Template makes copies of components but changes the copies in some way from the original. Taylor has multiplied the pickguard of their electric guitar series, but changed the configuration with different styles of magnetic pickups (the part that translates the sound from the strings). It is a clever idea because guitar owners can re-configure their guitar for different playing situations. It helps Taylor Guitar extend their product reach into the aftermarket for guitar parts and maintain a more loyal following of customers.
“We put the ‘no’ in innovation!” The good people at Post Cereal have a new twist on innovation…NOT innovating as a statement of the products ubiquity and staying power. “Some things just weren’t meant to be innovated." How could I resist? It was just too tempting to use systematic innovation on this simple product, especially in light of the perception that it should not be innovated. Though the ad campaign is a spoof, I wonder just how much the people at Post really believe this. What if shredded wheat could be innovated to create new growth potential for this sixty year old product?
Credit card companies must innovate to overcome the financial and public relations consequences of recent government legislation. The Credit Card Reform Act of 2009 is a "bill to protect consumers, and especially young consumers, from skyrocketing credit card debt, unfair credit card practices, and deceptive credit offers." These changes go into effect in 2010, and they will undoubtedly reduce the financial performance of card issuers.
Teaching people how to innovate is rewarding. It empowers them. It unlocks their minds to believe that innovation can happen "on command." People realize there is no excuse for not having enough ideas or being innovative once they have been trained.
This month's LAB features the output of one of my students, Michael Sanders, in my class, "Applied Marketing Innovation." For the final exam, students were assigned a product at random. They had three hours to apply all five templates in the Systematic Inventive Thinking method to come up with true new-to-the-world innovations. They were graded on how correctly they applied each template as well as the novelty of their inventions. Michael's assignment: Garage Door Opener. Here is what he did.
Can you innovate a mature product? Consider the fishing pole which dates back to the ancient Egyptians - it certainly qualifies as a mature product. This month's LAB will innovate it by using the systematic innovation methodl called Multiplication.
Fishing is the largest sporting activity in the U.S. with 40 million participants, far more than golf or tennis combined, the next two on the list. Recreational fishing generates more than $125 billion in economic output and more than one million American jobs. If sportfishing were a corporation, it would rank above Bank of America or IBM on the Fortune 100 list of largest American companies. The pathway to growth for any large, mature industry is: innovation!
The Multiplication tool is one of the five powerful thinking tools taught to me by the folks at Systematic Inventive Thinking. I like this tool because it is simple and yields great results. Even children can learn it.
Multiplication works by taking a component of the product, service, strategy, etc, and then making one or several copies of it. But the copy must be changed in some way from the original component. The original component is still intact, unchanged. Now using Function Follows Form, we work backwards to take this hypothetical solution and find a problem that it solves.