Innovation in Practice Blog

April 13, 2021

Creativity for Charities: How to Apply the SIT Techniques to Be More Creative and Resourceful

Charities and nonprofit organizations need to be just as innovative – and in some ways, they have to be even more innovative than for-profit organizations. Think […]
April 6, 2021

Gender Role in Creative Thinking – Not What You Think!

Guess who’s more creative – men or women?  Well, neither is more creative than the other because both are equally creative. They just have different roles […]
March 30, 2021

Why People Resist Our Innovative Ideas and How To Overcome It

Try to recall and go back to those moments when your ideas got rejected. How did you handle those rejections? Did you just instantly give up? […]
March 23, 2021

Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Secret Key to Unlocking Your Creative Potential

No matter who you are, it doesn’t matter if you’re born creative or gifted in some way, everyone has the potential to become more creative, regardless […]
March 16, 2021

Creativity? Make It Someone Else’s Problem

Are you in a creative rut? Then make it someone else’s problem.  Now, it doesn’t mean you should just stop being creative and outsource your creative […]
March 9, 2021

Avoid Cliches Like the Plague – How to Speak and Write More Creatively

Cliches oftentimes do a good job of communicating what your point is. Other people understand them readily, but using the same old cliches can get boring.  […]
March 2, 2021

Two New Apps to Help You Learn Creativity

Can you learn to be more creative?  100%! There are lots of ways for you to learn about systematic creativity. In fact, here are two amazing […]
February 23, 2021

The Power of Combining Things: How to be Creative Anytime with Simple Unexpected Combinations

Think you’re the most uncreative person in the world?  Well, not anymore.  You can decide to become creative if you want to right in this very […]
February 16, 2021

Are You Sitting on The Next Big Thing?

Have you ever been in your car driving down the road or you’re at a friend’s house or in your house or at work, then all […]
February 9, 2021

Why Some People See Creative Ideas More Clearly Than Others

Are you one of those people that a company would choose to call to get feedback about their products or services?  Do you have the right […]
May 31, 2010

The Voice of Serendipity

Many products are invented accidentally. Serendipity led to the microwave oven, corn flakes, Teflon®, penicillin, fireworks, Viagra®, chocolate chip cookies, and the most famous of all accidents...the Post-it® note. The problem with serendipity is it's not predictable. It is not an innovation method one would count on for corporate growth. But there is value in serendipity if you can unlock its hidden secrets. How?
September 13, 2010

Academic Focus: Aalto University

The convergence of three worlds...commercial, technical, and design...creates the optimal conditions for innovation. Now a new university in Finland has done just that. Aalto University is a newly created university from the merger of the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and Helsinki University of Technology - all leading and renowned institutions in their respective fields and in their own right.
January 3, 2011

Academic Focus: The Live Well Collaborative

The Live Well Collaborative at the University of Cincinnati is an academic-industry innovation incubator for regionally, nationally and internationally prominent firms. The focus of LWC is the aging population. Firms partner with UC to address product or service needs for the 50+ market. The UC students and faculty conduct research and develop ideas incorporating expertise from fields including design, business, engineering, medicine and even anthropology.
March 21, 2011

Academic Focus: The Rotman Business Design Challenge

The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto will host the Business Design Challenge from March 25-26, 2011. Teams of graduate students from business and designe schools in the US and Canada will work to solve a case study in the area of health and wellness. The case was developed by Doblin, a Chicago-based innovation strategy firm and the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation (CFI), who will incorporate the solutions developed into delivering improved health and wellness outcomes. Learning outcomes include:
April 18, 2011

Innovation Pilot Program

Companies can reduce the risk of adopting new innovation methods by testing them first. A short, pilot program that addresses a specific product or service line helps you understand whether a new method is right for your company. Pilot programs help keep your costs in line, and they help you reduce resistance to adopting new methods. To organize an innovation pilot program:
May 2, 2011

Feature Creep

Companies that struggle with innovation often make up for it by adding features to existing products. They succumb to "feature creep" - the gradual and continuous addition of features and functions though nothing is truly new. While it may look improved, the added features make your product more complex, difficult to use, and more costly to produce. Over time, your core customers abandon you. Here is an example - the Numi toilet by Kohler. At $6400, it is promoted as the top-of-the-line toilet with lots of high-tech bells and whistles:
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.
June 13, 2011

Innovation Resolution

My friend and former J&J colleague, Stuart Morgan, is one of those rare people who can flex between the highest level of abstraction and the smallest details of any particular problem. He is a whiz, and it is hard to keep up with him. For innovators and innovation managers, this is a skill worth developing and adding to your company's innovation competency model. Here's why. To be most successful at applying an innovation method, a team needs to determine the right level of granularity over the problem. Selecting different levels of innovation resolution will yield completely different innovative opportunities. Changing the resolution could yield interesting new adjacent market spaces. The level you target will also affect how you use an innovation method like S.I.T.. Here is an example. Suppose you designed and manufactured commercial aircraft. The natural starting point would be to innovate an airplane. At this level of resolution, our initial component list might be:
December 26, 2011

The LAB: Innovation for Couch Potatoes (December 2011)

This month's LAB features a former student of mine, Ryan Rosensweig. Ryan is the first business-design hybrid from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. He earned his master’s degree in design after completing his bachelor’s degree in marketing, sustainable urban engineering, and interdisciplinary design innovation. As the graduate assistant for Associate Dean Craig M. Vogel, of DAAP’s Center for Design Research and Innovation, Ryan researched educational models for interdisciplinary innovation, the interaction between design methodologies and business strategy, as well as product and service innovations for the over-age-50 population. Take a look at his portfolio here. I had the pleasure of teaching Ryan how to use Systematic Inventive Thinking when he attended my Innovation Tools graduate course. The final exam required students to correctly apply all five techniques of S.I.T. to an item assigned to them randomly. Here are selected examples from Ryan's final exam - innovating a couch!
January 16, 2012

The Innovation Tools Graduate Course

I'm looking forward to teaching “Innovation Tools,” the graduate marketing course at the University of Cincinnati. The course teaches how to use Systematic Inventive Thinking, a method based on three ideas. First, most successful innovations over time followed one of five patterns, and these patterns are like the DNA of products that can be re-applied to innovate any product or service. Second, innovation happens when we start with a configuration (the “solution”) and work backwards to the “problem” that it solves. It turns out that humans are better at this than the traditional “problem-to-solution” approach to innovating. Finally, better innovation happens when we start within the world of the problem (the Closed World). Innovations that use elements of the problem or surrounding environment are more novel and surprising. We innovate “inside the box,” not outside.