Innovation in Practice Blog

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 […]
October 6, 2020

The Multiplication Technique: A Simple Tool with Many Creative Surprises Inside

Procter & Gamble was able to take an air freshener product that was lagging at 4th place in terms of market share – to 1st place, […]
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 […]
June 27, 2011

The LAB: Innovating Pharmaceuticals with S.I.T. (June 2011)

The PharmaBrand Summit 2011 kicks off in Montreux, Switzerland this week. It will bring together senior executives and brand marketers from Europe’s largest pharmaceutical organizations. This year's theme is: "The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow." That is certainly an appropriate theme for many industries including pharmaceuticals. These companies are in transition as many aspects of their business models are changing. Of particular concern is the shrinking product pipeline. The days of the billion-dollar blockbuster drugs seem to be gone, so how will they create a new pipeline beyond traditional VOC and research methods? Yoni Stern and Amnon Levav of S.I.T. describe a unique approach using their innovation method to create new pharmaceuticals. The method is based on five patterns inherent in the majority of innovative products and services. These patterns are like the DNA of products that can be extracted and applied systemtatically to create new products, including pharmaceuticals. For this month's LAB, here are two examples of their approach.
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.
September 26, 2011

The LAB: Innovating a New Product Launch Campaign (September 2011)

Innovation methods are not just for inventing new products. Savvy marketers also apply structured innovation methods to the “big event” – the product launch campaign. Companies spend millions of dollars to get a product off to the right start. The launch of a new product can make or break it. Some companies excel at this. Memorable campaigns include Apple's launch of the iPhone, Microsoft's launch of Windows 95, and my all time favorite - Tickle Me Elmo - by Fisher Price. But a lot can go wrong with product launch, so marketers need ways to stand out from the crowd. Whether you have a big budget or small one, the use of a structured innovation method can take those dollars further and perhaps make the difference between success and failure. For this month’s LAB, we will demonstrate the use of Systematic Inventive Thinking to this critical aspect of marketing: the product launch.
November 14, 2011

The LAB: Innovating the Pricing Process (November 2011)

Setting prices on new products and services is one of the most challenging roles in marketing. Pricing mistakes are costly, yet it's one of the most tempting tools to use when trying to generate revenues. Fortunately, methods like Value Based Pricing and frameworks like The Big Picture make the job easier. What if you wanted to explore more innovative ways to set prices? Applying the SIT innovation patterns would create new insights and options. The SIT patterns help break fixedness - the tendency to limit the way we see things to what we know. These patterns are innate to all of us. We just need to "extract" them from within and deploy them in a systematic way. For this month's LAB, we will apply SIT to pricing. While there are many methods and schools of thought around pricing, the SIT templates should apply to any of them. I would do the following.
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!
February 27, 2012

The LAB: Innovating Twitter with S.I.T. (February 2012)

Twitter continues to evolve with some 220 million users tweeting collectively 250 million times a day. It is a vast social network that has become the world's "listening post" for events happening everywhere. Major news organizations rely on Twitter to give early warning to breaking stories. For this month's LAB, we will apply all five techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking to Twitter. Our goal will be to create new features and innovations with the main Twitter platform as well as to create completely new applications related to Twitter. Many "apps" tied to Twitter already exist, and you can find a thorough inventory here.
March 26, 2012

The LAB: Innovating the PC and Printer…Together (March 2012)

Hewlett Packard's announcement that it's combining its PC and printer divisions is meeting skepticism. Larry Dignan, editor-in-chief of ZDNet, had this to say: "Hewlett-Packard says it's combining its printer and PC divisions partially because the move will drive "innovation across personal computing and printing." Oh really? Color me decidedly skeptical on that claim, which was touted in the company's announcement today. My mental block: What exactly are the touch points between a printer and a PC, and where does the innovation lie? HP does have printing innovation. Its inkjet technology can be used for drug delivery, for instance. However, unless your PC is delivering doses of pharmaceuticals to you, it's a stretch to see the connection." For this month's LAB, lets put the S.I.T. method to the challenge. Imagine being part of this newly-combined HP organization. Here is how you might apply each of the five techniques of systematic inventive thinking. The key is to leverage each technique in a way that forces non-obvious connections between the two units, laptop and printer. These configurations become a "virtual product." We use Function-Follows-Form to work backwards to the problem they solve or benefit they deliver.
April 30, 2012

The LAB: Innovating a Membership Club with S.I.T. (April 2012)

How do you attract new customers while retaining current ones? For many categories, you attract new customers by showing high satisfaction with current customers. Put the current customer first and you will increase your appeal to new customers. The challenge is when you have to change your product to meet the different demands of new customers at the risk of alienating existing customers. For example, imagine you owned a prestigious, members-only dinner club with a strong following of older, traditional patrons. They are fiercely loyal and attached to the various details such as the glassware and the color of the table cloths. Any changes are seen with suspicion. You want to bring in new members, but need to change the club to appeal to younger potential members. Too much change will drive away current members. For this month's LAB, we will apply Systematic Inventive Thinking to address this apparent conundrum.
May 28, 2012

The LAB: Creating New Logistics Packaging with SIT (May 2012)

Cardboard boxes are one of the most widely used forms of packaging in the world. 90% of all products are shipped or displayed in corrugated packaging at some point in their lifecycle. It's a $57 billion dollar industry globally, but it is not growing. Could it be a lack of innovation? For this month's LAB, we will apply the corporate innovation method, SIT, to the corrugated box to see what potential innovations could fuel industry growth.