SIT is a collection of five techniques and a set of principles to help generate quality ideas on demand. One of the challenges you can have is deciding which technique to use. So here are some rules of thumb to get you started.
At the start of any project, I generally recommend using the Subtraction technique. It helps people get comfortable with the SIT method because it challenges their assumption about creativity and it exposes their fixedness. Subtraction is very useful when your starting point is well understood or the product or service is well established. It’s also great when you’re dealing with a complex product or service. As you subtract components out of complex products, it helps clarify what the component does and how it performs it’s role.
After you’ve applied one of the other techniques, I recommend turning to Task Unification. That’s because it tends to strengthen ideas by adding substance to them. This is especially true of Subtraction. With Subtraction, you can replace the subtracted component with something from the closed world.
This in a sense is using Task Unification. When you apply Task Unification by itself though, it will force you to consider non-obvious components for an additional role. It’s also a great technique when you have many tight constraints to deal with. It forces you to do more with less.
If you’re innovating a work process, I like to use Multiplication. It’s an excellent tool to help you see redundancies or opportunities to improve a process. It’s also great when you’re list of components is a bit short. Multiplication is a great tool for problem solving. But when you apply it to a problem situation, be sure to take the component that seems to be causing the problem and make a copy of it. That seems counter-intuitive but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what it can produce.
Division is the technique of choice when dealing with a process or service. It’s great for innovating a manufacturing process, for example. But don’t think division is only for processes or services. It can be quite powerful in new product innovation as well. Also be sure to use Division when you suspect strong structural fixedness at play. That usually happens when you’re dealing with rigorous standards or well entrenched structures in your products and services. Applying the Division technique will expose that fixedness and help you and your colleagues break it.
Finally, use Attribute Dependency when you have a relatively new product or when you want to create smart adaptable products. It’s a great tool when you want to create extensions to your product line. The technique forces you to consider new connections between two unrelated components within the same product. And many times, this yields some very clever features that your customers would love.
People often ask me, which of the five techniques is my personal favorite. That’s like asking someone, which of their children is their favorite. To be honest just, like children, the techniques of the SIT method are all unique and they all have tremendous potential. I suggest you take advantage of them all.