Innovation in Practice Blog

August 20, 2012

Academic Focus: University of Chicago Booth School of Business

With six of its faculty members earning the Nobel Prize, it is hard to associate the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with anything else but economics. In reality, it is an innovator in many other areas. It was the first to initiate a PhD program in business (1920). It pioneered the executive MBA degree for experienced managers (1943). Booth was also the first to establish a minority relations program (1964). It is the still the only US. business school with permanent campuses on three continents: Asia, Europe, and North America. Booth preaches what it practices. It teaches systematic methods of innovation to its students. Art Middlebrooks is an clinical professor of marketing at Chicago Booth, and one of a growing number of professors teaching the SIT method. He is well qualified as both a practitioner of innovation as well as a teacher and scholar. He teaches both innovation and services marketing. "I find that students learn best by 'doing,' so I've structured both the in-class and out-of-class work to enable students to 'try out' the various tools that I teach."
August 13, 2012

Innovation Sighting: S.I.T. Patterns in Refrigerators

This month's Innovation Sighting comes to us from Dr. Steven Palter. Dr. Palter is a gynecologic fertility specialist and a true innovator in the medical field. He learned the S.I.T. method recently, so he knows how to spot the five innovation patterns of S.I.T. in everyday products and services. This one is a new refrigerator launched by LG at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It is the LGLFX31945ST French Door Refrigerator with Door-in-Door. The new Door-in-Door is a classic example of the Multiplication Technique. To use Multiplication, make a list of the components of the product, select a component and copy it, then change the copied component along some variable such as size, location, or other attribute. Once you create this Virtual Product, try to identify new benefits or markets served by this configuration.
August 6, 2012

Innovation in the Mobile World

The rapid adoption of smartphones is changing the landscape of the marketing research industry. Last month’s “Market Research in the Mobile World” conference in Cincinnati highlighted many ways the market research industry is trying to adjust. The industry is evolving from using lengthy printed surveys and personal interviews to instead collecting consumer reactions “in the moment” that are transmitted digitally as it happens. What was once a process of collecting “many answers from few” is becoming a process of collecting “a few answers from the many.” With their trusty appliance in hand, consumers can now share what’s on their mind virtually any part of their day. Not only is data received faster, it is also more reliable by sampling smaller bites from a larger pool.
July 30, 2012

The LAB: Innovating Toilet Paper with Attribute Dependency (July 2012)

When Joseph Gayetty invented commercially available toilet paper in 1857, he called it "The greatest necessity of the age!" Of course, he wasn't exaggerating. The use of paper for toileting dates back to the 6th century AD. Gayetty's Medicated Paper was sold in packages of flat sheets, watermarked with the inventor's name. Since then, many companies have tried to innovate this product. Many innovations are simple gag gifts while others are quite useful. For this month's LAB, let's apply the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to create new concepts for toilet paper. S.I.T. is a collection of thinking tools, principles, facilitation methods, and organizational structures to help companies innovate products, processes, and services. We will use the Attribute Dependency Technique, one of five in S.I.T..
July 23, 2012

Marketing Innovation: The Subtraction Tool in Brand Development

Perhaps harder than branding is re-branding. Once the market associates your brand with a specific promise, it is difficult to get people to shift over to a newer or more updated meaning. This is especially true for brands that have been around a long time. Take the brand of Canada, for example. It adopted the instantly-recognizable Maple Leaf as its national flag in 1965 over contending choices such the one shown here. Now Canada is re-positioning the brand to update its global image. The new campaign, "Know Canada," makes clever use of the S.I.T. advertising tool called Subtraction. The tool is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them.
July 16, 2012

What’s in a Name

Look at this word, then see what mental picture you get: HAMMER. Like most people, you probably see a person's hand wrapped around a metal or wood stick with an object fixed on top. You may see this object being used to strike other objects. You may imagine the heaviness of the object. The word "hammer" is a mental shortcut that instantly conjures up all the memories and associations you have with that thing. Naming objects is useful. But the names we give items also creates a barrier to innovative thinking. We have a difficult time seeing that object doing anything else than the task assigned to it. It is also difficult for us to imagine using other objects to do the job of a hammer. It is a condition called Functional Fixedness.
July 9, 2012

The Five Senses of Innovation

How do you know if someone is truly innovative? I look for three things. First, does the person have a cognitive process for generating new ideas? Innovation is a skill, not a gift. It can trained and learned like any other skill. So I expect successful innovators to have such training and be able to deploy ideation methods - on demand. Second, is the person motivated and hopeful about the future? Hope is defined as a positive motivational belief in one's future; the feeling that what is wanted can be had; that events will turn out for the best. Research shows that an employee's sense of hope explains their creative output at work. Hope predicts creativity. Third, and perhaps most elusive: do they have the innovation senses to know how their efforts will succeed? I call these the Five Senses of Innovation.
July 5, 2012

How to Use Systematic Inventive Thinking for Cutting Costs and Increasing Productivity

Innovation is commonly misperceived as a means to create brand new shiny products, design colorful marketing campaigns and create a lot of buzz and commotion. We invite you to learn how our systematic and pragmatic approach to innovation can impact your manufacturing processes and professional services by finding new ways to cut costs, allocate resources and create value for you and your customers. In our 45 min webinar you will: • Learn how inventive thinking can be successfully applied to increase productivity • Get introduced to some of the SIT thinking tools and principles • Understand how SIT complements existing methodologies used in your organization such as LEAN, Kaizen, and Six Sigma.
July 2, 2012

Innovation Sighting: Clothing to Keep You Cooler

The Columbia Sportswear Company is launching a new line of clothing that keeps you...cooler. The Omni-Freeze® is a specialized fabric weave that increases the surface area of the fabric that contacts your bare skin. This transmits heat faster and feels cooler to the touch. This is a great example of the Attribute Dependency Technique, one of five in the S.I.T. innovation method. Attribute Dependency differs from the other templates in that it uses attributes (variables) of the situation rather than components. Start with an attribute list, then construct a 2 x 2 matrix of these, pairing each against the others. Each cell represents a potential dependency that forms a Virtual Product. Using Function Follows Form, we work backwards and envision a potential benefit or problem that this hypothetical solution solves. In the case of Omni-Freeze®, the dependency is created between body temperature and layers of clothing.
June 25, 2012

The LAB: Innovating a Museum with S.I.T. (June 2012)

According the Center for the Future of Museums, many non-profit museums in this country are struggling from a broken economic model. Attendance and memberships are declining as consumers are given more choices of how to spend their time. To attract more, museums need to have good storytelling, stagecraft, showmanship, great imagery, and great sound. They need to tap deep passions and emotions to create "product" that is meaningful to audiences. Otherwise, many museums will shut down. For this month's LAB, let's apply the innovation method, S.I.T, to a museum. Students from my Innovation Tools course at the University of Cincinnati created new concepts for a local museum, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The students portrayed the concepts in a Dream Catalog as a way to visually tell the story. You can download the entire catalog here.
June 1, 2017

Solution-to-Problem Innovation

Innovation is the process of taking an idea and putting it into practice. Creativity, on the other hand, is what you do in your head to […]
July 24, 2017

Should Innovators Reveal How Much They Let Technology Make Creative Choices?

Is it true? Do the most creative people generate ideas straight out of their heads without any outside help? That’s what most people would tell you. […]
August 21, 2017

How a Case of Laryngitis Helped Me Find My Voice and Grow as a Leader

By Deb Gabor As a brand strategist, author, and public speaker, I rely upon my voice and storytelling ability to make a living. I’ve observed that […]
July 9, 2018

Breaking Fixedness: Saving the Boys of the Thai Soccer Team Trapped in a Cave

News of a boys soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand brought back memories of the Chilean miners trapped 2,300 feet underground in August 2010. […]
July 23, 2018

Swiping the Blank Slate: Accelerate Your Career Success by Jumpstarting Innovative Thinking

By Nurit Shmilovitz-Vardi We’ve all been there. Your manager assigns your next project, handing you the relevant materials along with the following demand: “This needs to […]
September 10, 2018

Now Live: Value Proposition Surgical Robotics Simulation on Harvard Business Publishing Website

This valuable simulation was recently published by my friend and colleague, Marta Dapena-Baron, of The Big Picture Partners. This multiplayer training simulation brings to life the […]
September 17, 2018

Creating a Culture of Innovation

There have been times I sat down with a client and I told them, “your organization is very innovative”, but they don’t believe me. I tell […]
November 5, 2018

Introducing Switchers

I am excited to announce a new book that was just released by my friend and colleague, Dawn Graham. Switchers is the first book written specifically for the career changer, to help them to […]
November 12, 2018

Launching My Latest Book

I’m thrilled to let you know my new book, So You Want to Be a Professor: How to Land Your Dream Job in Academia, just launched! […]