Innovation Sighting: Partial Subtraction for Better Beer Drinking

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November 1, 2017

Innovation Sighting: Partial Subtraction for Better Beer Drinking

The football season is into full swing. And, no doubt, countless beer drinkers experience the ever so frustrating tension of keeping a clear line of sight for that key play of the game without missing a gulp of their favorite brew. The engineers of the TV Beer Mug saw right through the problem (pun intended) by shaving off one side of the mug. By using the Subtraction Technique, the makers of the TV Beer Mug have eased the beer drinking, football watching woes of thousands of fans.

As Gizmodo humorously states,

Taking advantage of cutting-edge physics and engineering breakthroughs that are rarely seen outside of aerospace applications, this remarkable $11 mug looks as if one side has been cleaved clean off—which is the secret to how it works. The other side of the mug that usually blocks the view of your TV is gone, leaving you with a clean line of sight every time you take a swig.

It’s a perfect example of the Subtraction Technique, one of five in the innovation method, Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It’s also a great example of the Closed World Principle. Here’s how it works:

To get the most out of the Subtraction Technique, you follow five steps:

  1. List the product’s or service’s internal components.
  2. Select an essential component and imagine removing it. There are two ways: a. Full Subtraction. The entire component is removed. b. Partial Subtraction. Take one of the features or functions of the component away or diminish it in some way.
  3. Visualize the resulting concept(no matter how strange it seems).
  4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this new product or service, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge? After you’ve considered the concept“as is” (without that essential component), try replacing the function with something from the Closed World (but not with the original component). You can replace the component with either an internal or external component. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values of the revised concept?
  5. If you decide that this new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?

Learn how all five techniques can help you innovate – on demand.