Innovation in Practice Blog

September 29, 2020

How to Create and Run an Innovation Pilot Program

Individuals and organizations need to learn at a rate faster than the rate of change. And innovation pilot programs help you do that.  But how do […]
September 22, 2020

Fixedness: Your Main Barrier to Creative Thinking

How do you develop your creativity? As much as you want to or need to be creative, sometimes, there’s something that seems to block it. And […]
September 15, 2020

Process Innovation: Unlocking New Value in What You Do Everyday

The Systematic Inventive Thinking or SIT method is not only applicable to products, it’s also highly valuable in innovating services and processes.  Here are two ways […]
September 8, 2020

Innovation Dream Teams: The Secret Formula to Drive Team Success

When you’re talking about innovation, a traditional brainstorming approach doesn’t work. If you want to generate better ideas, you have to be able to create your […]
September 1, 2020

Why People Resist Our Innovative Ideas and How To Overcome It

With innovation comes resistance. They define each other. An idea simply cannot be innovative unless it’s met with resistance. Because of this, we should see resistance […]
August 25, 2020

How to Use the Closed World Principle of Creativity

Creative thinking can be systematic and routine. All you have to do is learn how to use your brain and learn a new way to generate […]
August 18, 2020

Divide and Conquer – How to Use the Division Technique

A common misconception is that creativity is a gift you are born with. People believe that if they don’t have it right from birth, they have […]
August 11, 2020

A Path to More Creative Thinking

Innovation is a skill. It’s not a gift. It’s not something you’re born with. But you can actually learn to be creative like you could learn […]
August 10, 2020

Task Unification – The Go-To Innovation Tool to Break Functional Fixedness

Mankind has used patterns for thousands of years to solve everyday problems. Those patterns are now embedded into the products and services you see around you […]
December 9, 2019

How to Enhance Innovation with Learning and Development Training

by Max Maccarone Innovation is an inescapable fact of being in business in today’s market. Advancements and developments in technology mean that nearly every industry has […]
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.