Innovation in Practice Blog

January 12, 2021

The Creative Power of Thinking Big: How to Improve Your Ideas with One Simple Trick

Think big. You’ve probably heard that a lot of times.  As leaders, we need to be more aggressive, take more risks, and challenge ourselves to think […]
January 5, 2021

The Temptation of Creative Ideas: How We View Ideas Differently Depending on the Source

The next time you come up with a great idea, don’t share it with anyone! Sounds absurd, right? Here’s a better way of saying that: If […]
December 29, 2020

You’re Awesome! How Sarcasm Enhances Creativity

Sarcasm is the idea of using irony in a way to mock somebody or to insult them. While sarcasm can be insulting and hurtful to somebody, […]
December 22, 2020

The Golden Rule of Creativity

The golden rule says that you should treat others as you want them to treat you.  Now, the golden rule of creativity states that if you […]
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 […]
February 24, 2008

Divide and Conquer

"Divide and Conquer" is: a. classic military strategy, b. a computer algorithm design paradigm, c. a collaborative problem solving approach, d. an innovation tool, or e. ALL THE ABOVE The answer, of course, is all the above. Division is one of the five templates of innovation in the Systematic Inventive Thinking method. The others are Subtraction, Task Unification, Multiplication, and Attribute Dependency. Templates were developed by recognizing the same consistent pattern over many products so that the pattern could be applied to create innovative new products. The method works by taking a product, concept, situation, service, process, or other seed construct, and breaking it into its basic component parts or attributes. The templates manipulate the components, one at a time, to create new-to-the-world constructs for which the innovator finds a valuable use. The notion of taking the solution and finding a problem that it can solve is called "function follows form" and is at the heart of the systematic inventive thinking process. It is innovation by working backwards.
June 28, 2008

Innovation Telltale

If you want innovation in your company, hire innovative people. But how do you know if someone is innovative? What do you look for? What telltale evidence might suggest that a person has superior innovation skills? What is the telltale of innovation? I think I know the answer. But, just as with the youth hockey experience, I will need to collect data to be sure. My hypothesis is mental searching speed, an idea that Yoni Stern at S.I.T. taught me. This is a measure of how well you "Google" your own mind and memory for information or experiences when given a task. The task in the case of innovation is to take a Virtual Product (a mental abstract produced through the S.I.T. method), and mentally search your mind to find many productive, innovative uses for it. Whoever can find the most ideas for a given task is more innovative in my view. They make the team. My task now is to select a different team - a team of research collaborators to find and validate the Innovation Telltale, something the Fortune 100 will surely value.
December 31, 2008

The LAB: Innovating a Refrigerator with the Division Template (December 2008)

A corporate innovation method should be robust enough to produce incremental as well as disruptive ideas. One of my favorite templates in the S.I.T. method is called Division because it does just that. The Division template takes a product or service, divides it or its components, and rearranges them to form a new product or service. It is a particularly useful template to help people see their product or service in completely new ways. It helps people get unstuck from the "fixed" frame that we all have naturally about our products or services. My favorite example of Division happened during an innovation training session. One of the participants was a bit cynical about the method and using patterns to innovate anything. To help him overcome this, I let him select any product or service that he was convinced could not be innovated further. He chose the refrigerator, a concept that has been with us since 1000 BC. What follows is how we used Division in this spontaneous exercise to change his mind.
March 28, 2009

The LAB: Innovating a Garage Door Opener (March 2009)

Teaching people how to innovate is rewarding. It empowers them. It unlocks their minds to believe that innovation can happen "on command." People realize there is no excuse for not having enough ideas or being innovative once they have been trained. This month's LAB features the output of one of my students, Michael Sanders, in my class, "Applied Marketing Innovation." For the final exam, students were assigned a product at random. They had three hours to apply all five templates in the Systematic Inventive Thinking method to come up with true new-to-the-world innovations. They were graded on how correctly they applied each template as well as the novelty of their inventions. Michael's assignment: Garage Door Opener. Here is what he did.
June 7, 2009

The LAB: Innovating a Credit Card with S.I.T. (June 2009)

Credit card companies must innovate to overcome the financial and public relations consequences of recent government legislation. The Credit Card Reform Act of 2009 is a "bill to protect consumers, and especially young consumers, from skyrocketing credit card debt, unfair credit card practices, and deceptive credit offers." These changes go into effect in 2010, and they will undoubtedly reduce the financial performance of card issuers.
July 5, 2009

The LAB: Innovating Shredded Wheat with S.I.T. (July 2009)

“We put the ‘no’ in innovation!” The good people at Post Cereal have a new twist on innovation…NOT innovating as a statement of the products ubiquity and staying power. “Some things just weren’t meant to be innovated." How could I resist? It was just too tempting to use systematic innovation on this simple product, especially in light of the perception that it should not be innovated. Though the ad campaign is a spoof, I wonder just how much the people at Post really believe this. What if shredded wheat could be innovated to create new growth potential for this sixty year old product?
August 24, 2009

The LAB: Innovating Health Care with S.I.T. (August 2009)

Health Care Reform, as the U.S. government sees it, promises lower costs, better access, and improved quality for all. Let's apply a structured innovation method to health care to see if we can achieve some of these goals. For this month's LAB, we will apply Systematic Inventive Thinking to the hospital discharge process.
October 4, 2009

Innovation Sighting: The Division Template in Elevators

What is the first thing you do when you step into an elevator? Push the button of the floor you are going to. Not so with a new breed of elevators manufactured by Schindler North America. These elevators have the buttons on the outside, not inside. The buttons for selecting your floor are on each floor. Instead of just pushing a single up or down button to hail an elevator, you push the button for the floor you want as though you were inside. The Division Template is the culprit here. In this innovation sighting, the elevator floor button panel was divided out and placed back into the system...outside the elevator cab. Very novel, useful, and surprising. To use Division, make a list of the components, then divide out a component. Divide functionally or physically and place it back somewhere in the system. Use Function Follows Form to identify potential benefits, feasibility, challenges, and adaptations.
November 23, 2009

The LAB: Creating Mobile Products with the Division Template (November 2009)

Mobility is a good thing. As mobility increases, so does our standard of living. Mobility expands job opportunities, enriches our personal life, and boosts prosperity. For nations, mobility expands trade, creates wealth, and makes countries more competitive. Mobility even helps us live longer. For hundreds of years, life expectancies hovered around 40 years. During the 1800s they began to shoot up when road transport improved. Today life expectancies in many advanced societies approach 80 years thanks to improved mobility in transportation, communications, and network computing. How can we use structured innovation to create more of it? How can we make the products and services we use every day more mobile? For this month's LAB, we will use the Division Template. We begin by listing the product's (or service's) internal components. Then we divide one or more of the components in one of three ways:
December 7, 2009

The LAB: Innovating Your Wallet Using S.I.T. (December 2009)

Innovation puts cash in your wallet. But what about the wallet itself? For this month's LAB, we will apply the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to create new and useful concepts for the wallet. Wallets are the most personal items we own. They carry our money, credit cards, identification, licenses, photographs, and other memorabilia. Your wallet says a lot about you. As with food, we try to stuff more inside while staying thin. Wallets have been around a long time. Today, the wallet industry is a multi-billion dollar market fueled by new designs and innovation. Here are six unique wallet concepts invented using the five templates in the S.I.T. method. They were created by graduate students at the University of Cincinnati as part of their course requirements in "Applied Marketing Innovation."