The moment I walked into the classroom, I could see that something was different. The students were excited, I could feel the anticipation in the air—and something about their faces made me think that they were planning something mischievous.
Books about business innovation seem to arrive as quickly as ideas on a whiteboard in a brainstorming session. But Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results (Simon & Schuster, 2013), by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg, jumps out for its counterintuitive take on creativity.
Phil Hansen suffered a career-threatening injury to his hand. Nerve damage caused his hand to shake uncontrollably. Most professions could deal with it. But as an artist, where a steady hand seems essential, it all but doomed Phil's career.
That was until a neurologist suggested he “embrace the shake.” That piece of advice "tweaked Hansen’s point of view and sent him on a quest to invent different approaches to making art by embracing personal and universal limitations."
Watch his story on TED. I watched it and found three principles and four techniques of the innovation method, Systematic Inventive Thinking.
The Task Unification Technique is one of five in the innovation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking. It is defined as "assiging an additional task to an existing resource." It is such a powerful technique because it often leads to Closed World solutions, or what we like to call "thinking inside the box." It yields innovations that tend to leverage some resource in the immediate vicinity in a clever way. It also tends to yield innovations that have a characteristic known as Ideality - the solution to a problem only appears when needed. When the problem arises, the solution is also there.
The new Innovate Inside the Box app facilitates the use of the creativity method, Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It explains each of the five techniques (Subtraction, Division, Task Unification, Multiplication, and Attribute Dependency) and allows users to generate creative ideas and innovations. This app is ideal for readers of “Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results.”
The app is available for iPad 2 or 3. Learn more about it at the Apple iTunes Preview.
Here's how to Use the App:
The terms innovation and design thinking are used so often in so many different contexts, often interchanged, and sometimes misused. What do they really mean? More importantly, how do they relate to each other?
These questions set the stage for “Innovation and Design Thinking,” the first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) offered by the University of Cincinnati and the largest course ever taught since it was founded in 1819. Nearly two thousand students from around the world are participating.
John Doyle certainly knows theater. Over his thirty-year career, he’s staged more than two hundred professional productions throughout the United Kingdom and the United States, mostly in small, regional theater companies. In the early 1990s, while working at such a theater in rural England, the Scottish director came up with an innovative way to produce crowd-pleasing musicals on a tiny budget. Musicals are considerably more expensive to stage than traditional plays, due primarily to the cost of hiring musicians. But Doyle eliminated those excess costs by handing responsibility for musical accompaniment to his actors. The actors onstage doubled as instrumentalists.
Although studying creativity is considered a legitimate scientific discipline nowadays, it is still a very young one. In the early 1970s, a psychologist named J. P. Guilford was one of the first academic researchers who dared to conduct a study of creativity. One of Guilford’s most famous studies was the nine-dot puzzle, presented with its solution here. He challenged research subjects to connect all nine dots using just four straight lines without lifting their pencils from the page. Today many people are familiar with this puzzle and its solution. In the 1970s, however, very few were even aware of its existence, even though it had been around for almost a century.
One very effective—but nonintuitive—way to use Multiplication is to multiply the most offending component in a problem and then change it so that it solves the problem. Yes, you actually make more of the very thing you are trying to discard. The key is to duplicate the nastiest component and imagine a scenario in which that copy could offer useful characteristics. Two researchers used this very technique and revolutionized the way we cope with dangerous insect species today.
Skyscrapers are amazing from any vantage point - near, far, or even inside. If you look closely, you'll spot the patterns inherent in the techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking. Take a look at these five examples.