My seventh-grade son asked me to volunteer at his school to teach something nonacademic and fun, like how to rollerblade, bake cookies, and so on. I called the school and asked if I could teach a course called “How to Be an Inventor.” I had taught Systematic Inventive Thinking in many innovation workshops for about four years at that point, so I was confident I could deliver a fun and useful program for kids.
To my surprise, the school administrators said no.
You can frequently make groundbreaking innovations simply by dividing a product into “chunks” to create many smaller versions of it. These smaller versions still function like the original product, but their reduced size delivers benefits that users wouldn’t get with the larger, “parent” product. This is “Preserving Division.”
Super Bowl commercials capture our attention because they tend to be highly creative and well-produced. At around $4 million dollars for a thirty second spot, Super Bowl advertisers need to create the best, most innovative commercials possible. To do that, they use patterns. Professor Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues discovered that 89% of 200 award winning ads fall into a few simple, well-defined design structures. Their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," defines eight of these structures and provides a step-by-step approach to use them.
As a teacher, it's always rewarding to see my students create ideas that eventually make it into the marketplace. Here are some great innovations for the kitchen oven that a group of students created last year, January 2014. Later, we'll compare these to the new innovations announced by Whirlpool at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show.
Combining Systematic Inventive Thinking with Design Thinking yields wonderful innovations. The two go so well together. SIT brings a way to create ideas systematically while Design Thinking brings a way to articulate those ideas in an intuitive, appealing way. Take the Task Unification Technique, for example. It's one of five in the SIT method.
The economic outlook for 2015 is, by most accounts, "slightly better than 2014." That, of course, depends on what industry you're in. For some, that outlook could be a lot better with an injection of good, old fashioned innovation. Here is my short list of five industries most ripe of innovation in 2015.