Innovation in Practice Blog

December 15, 2020

Where There’s Hope, There’s Creativity: The 5 Modes of Hoping

Do you feel like you’re never going to get any creative stuff going?  Well, never lose hope – because hope is a prerequisite to be creative. […]
December 8, 2020

What Makes Something Creative? The Characteristics of Highly Innovative Ideas

What is it about some products and services that make them more innovative and more creative than other products?  What is their secret ingredient? Well, it […]
December 1, 2020

Have You Reached Your Creative Peak?

Do you feel you’ve reached your optimum level of creativity? If not, when is that going to happen? And if yes, how do maintain that level […]
November 24, 2020

Finding Your Creative Sweet Spot: How to Make an Idea More Appealing

Not all ideas are equal. Some are okay, some are great. But don’t just throw those okay ideas away. The key is to find that creative […]
November 17, 2020

Six Best Books on Creativity: The Classics that Teach the How and Not the Why

If you like creativity and innovation, there are a lot of great books out there that cover just a wide range of topics. So how do […]
November 10, 2020

The Myth of Outside the Box Thinking: Why Brainstorming and Other Such Techniques Are Your Worst Enemy

How many brainstorming sessions have you been in? What really came out of it? What was the process like for you? How did you feel about […]
November 3, 2020

Five Ways to Teach Your Children to Be More Creative

If you think innovation is only for adults, well, you’re wrong – because kids can just be as innovative as adults are, even more sometimes.  Here […]
October 27, 2020

Learning the Powerful, Yet Abstract Method of Attribute Dependency

Attribute Dependency is one of the five techniques of the SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking) method.  Just to give you an idea, think of your home thermostat […]
October 20, 2020

The Myth of Post-it Notes and Other Serendipitous Inventions: Why Pure Chance is Not Your Creative Friend

Chocolate chip cookies, penicillin, Velcro, microwave ovens, the game of basketball, and Post-It Notes. What do they have in common? Well, those products were invented completely […]
October 13, 2020

The Subtraction Technique: The Creative Power of Taking Elements Away

Subtraction is the removal of an essential core element rather than the addition of new systems or functions.  Like all the other techniques of the Systematic […]
January 10, 2011

The LAB: Innovating the Book with S.I.T. (January 2011)

Book publishing faces turbulent times. While the market is growing, key parts of the business model are coming apart at the seams. Market segments are fragmenting, price points are changing, channel power is shifting, and barriers to entry are lowering. Even the definition of "a book" is in question. Is it the medium (printed pages between two pieces of cardboard, electronic, online)? Or is it the message (the story, the characters, the themes)? When an industry faces turmoil, there is only one thing to do - innovate! For this month's LAB, lets innovate the plain old, everyday book, an idea that goes back 5000 years. We will use the corporate innovation method, S.I.T.. It is based on five patterns. We use the patterns to create hypothetical, abstract "solutions." Then we work backwards from the solution to try and identify potential problems that it solves. This works well because there is an asymmetry in people's thought process effectiveness when it comes to creativity. People are more fluent and easier with searching for benefits for given configurations than finding the best configuration for a given benefit or function. The term for it is called Function Follows Form.
February 28, 2011

The LAB: Innovating Inflight Services with S.I.T. (February 2011)

Airline service innovation seems like an oxymoron considering the industry's reputation for low quality. But the industry is fighting back to improve its image. Companies that specialize in inflight entertainment as well as airframe manufacturers are accelerating the use of new technologies to deliver more value in the air. That's good news for an industry that has focused way too long on cost-cutting. The next battle for supremacy will be won by airlines and aviation companies that innovate services across the experiential "journey" in a sustained way. For this month's LAB, we will create new-to-the-world concepts for the inflight service experience using the S.I.T. tool set. We begin by creating a list of the components of the product or service. We select a component and we further break it down to its sub-components or attributes that we can focus on. We then apply a tool to that component to change it in some way. Working backwards ("Function Follows Form"), we envision potential benefits of the modified service to both the customer and the company. Here is a list of components:
March 7, 2011

Business Model Innovation

Business model innovation was one of many hot topics at Innovation Suite 2011. The conference hosted thirty two invitees from nine countries and a variety of companies including GE, Bayer, Kraft, and SAP. On the minds of many was how to create new business models to transform a company and move to higher ground. Business Model Innovation is defined as follows (from Wikipedia): Business model innovation results in an entirely different type of company that competes not only on the value proposition of its offerings, but aligns its profit formula, resources and processes to enhance that value proposition, capture new market segments and alienate competitors. Here are four ways to conceptualize a new business model:
March 28, 2011

The LAB: Innovating Facebook with Attribute Dependency (March 2011)

Facebook innovated its way to become the dominate social network with 600 million users in just six years since launch. What will it do for an encore? More importantly, how will it continue to innovate? For this month's LAB, we will apply the Attribute Dependency tool to demonstrate how Facebook might continue re-inventing itself. To use Attribute Dependency, make two lists. The first is a list of internal attributes. The second is a list of external attributes - those factors that are not under your control, but that vary in the context of how the product or service is used. Then create a matrix with the internal and external attributes on one axis, and the internal attributes only on the other axis. The matrix creates combinations of internal-to-internal and internal-to-external attributes that we will use to innovate. We take these virtual combinations and envision them in two ways. If no dependency exists between the attributes, we create one. If a dependency exists, we break it. Using Function Follows Form, we envision what the benefit or potential value might be from the new (or broken) dependency between the two attributes. Here are attributes of the Facebook experience:
April 25, 2011

The LAB: Innovating Cosmetics with S.I.T. (April 2011)

The cosmetic industry thrives on innovation and fashion design especially in the areas of product development and retail merchandising. It generates nearly US$200 billion worldwide and is growing. For this month's LAB, we will use the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to create new innovations for lipstick, a product that dates back to the ancient Egyptians. S.I.T. works by taking one of the five patterns (subtraction, task unification, division, multiplication, and attribute dependency) and applying it to an existing product or service. This morphs it into a "virtual product," which is an abstract, ambiguous notion with no clear purpose. We then work backwards (Function Follows Form) to find new and useful benefits or markets for the virtual product. Here are five innovations created by *students at the University of Cincinnati as part of the innovation tools course.
May 23, 2011

Innovation Sighting: Street Art Without the Paint

Here is a nice example of the Subtraction tool of the corporate innovation method, S.I.T.. Imagine painting a picture without the paint. From PSFK: From metal to billboards, Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto aka Vhils is regarded for his work across a variety of mediums. However, his “Scratching the Surface” style (which we first noticed here) is particularly remarkable. Using decrepit city walls as his canvas, the artist carved faces from the concrete, unmasking the beauty inherent to even the most neglected spaces. The pictures below are taken from Moscow, London, and all over Italy. To use Subtraction, start by listing the components of the situation, product, service, process, etc. (The method works with just about anything that can be conceptualized into components). In this case, the innovator (artist) would create a list something like this:
May 30, 2011

The LAB: Innovating the Treadmill with S.I.T. (May 2011)

In 1817, Sir William Cubitt innovated the treadmill as a method of reforming prison convicts who got out of line. Today, that "torture" continues. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, fifty million Americans use a treadmill. Sales of treadmills are $1 billion annually of the total $4 billion fitness equipment industry. For this month's LAB, we will use the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to create new-to-the-world concepts for the ubiquitous treadmill. S.I.T. works by taking one of five patterns (subtraction, task unification, division, multiplication, and attribute dependency) and applying it to an existing product or service. This morphs it into a "virtual product," which is an abstract, ambiguous notion with no clear purpose. We then work backwards (Function Follows Form) to find new and useful benefits or markets for the virtual product.
July 11, 2011

Innovation Sighting: Attribute Dependency in an Exercise Bike

Pro-Form's Le Tour de France Indoor Cycle lets users choose or create real-world routes, then adjusts the angle of the riding platform to replicate the experience of riding up and down those roads. This new product has three different features using the Attribute Dependency Tool of the corporate innovation method, SIT.
July 25, 2011

The LAB: Innovating a Corporate Training Program (July 2011)

Corporate training is a $60 billion dollar industry and growing as the economy recovers. As with any industry, significant changes are occurring. Companies spend less on fixed internal resources and are outsourcing more. Learners are changing in the way they learn, perhaps due to the generational shift. And of course, technology has made the social side of learning more available and effective. Training executives, those who manage company training resources and programs, must continue to innovate to address these changes to stay relevant. For this month's LAB, we will apply the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to a training program. Our goal is to find new-to-the-world concepts that improve a company's training efforts. The method works by applying one of five innovation patterns to components within the training environment. The pattern has the effect of morphing the component into something that seems unrecognizable or ambiguous. We take that "virtual product" and work backwards to uncover potential benefits or markets served, a process called "Function Follows Form."
August 29, 2011

The LAB: Innovating Software Applications with S.I.T. (August 2011)

Software runs much of our lives. It runs everyday items like computers, automobiles, banking, telephones, and even kitchen appliances. Software will affect more of our daily routines in the future. According to market researcher DataMonitor, the global software market will grow to $457 billion, an increase of 50.5% since 2008. The problem with software is you cannot see it. The term was coined originally as a prank to contrast the term, "hardware." Unlike hardware, software is intangible - it cannot be touched. So how do you innovate software especially with a corporate innovation method like S.I.T.? This method uses the components of the product or service as the starting point. Companies sometimes struggle creating new applications because software seems too abstract. The secret to using S.I.T. on software is this. Don't innovate the software code; rather, use the innovation method on what the software does. Apply the method to the products and processes that the software affects. This will create new-to-the-world innovations. Then, write the software code that implements these new applications. Here is an example with the software program, Quicken. We start with a component list of a routine process within the software - creating an invoice.