Innovation in Practice Blog

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 […]
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 […]
April 16, 2012

Innovation Sighting: Yahoo’s e-Book Advertising

Yahoo's recent patent filings suggest it is entering the e-Book market, a move that will pit it against Amazon, Apple, and other content providers. But given the nature of the patent filings, Yahoo seeks to leap over the competition with a potentially more innovative approach. Yahoo's concepts conform to the Attribute Dependency technique, one of five in the SIT Method. Research shows that new products that conform to one of the five SIT techniques tend to be more successful in the marketplace.
May 21, 2012

Innovation Sighting: Toyota’s Mood-Detecting Car

Toyota is designing a new technology that will react to the driver's mood. It will adjust how the car behaves depending on whether the driver is sad, happy, angry or neutral. The technology uses a camera to identify facial emotions by taking readings from 238 points on the driver’s face. A driver’s mood can affect performance on the road. Research has shown that people with negative (and sometimes positive) emotions are distracted even more than those using a cell phone while driving.
June 4, 2012

Patterns That Predict Innovation Success

The New York Times published a list of "32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow," an eclectic mix of concepts that range from the wild and wacky like SpeechJammer (#14) to more practical ideas like a blood test for depression (#25). I analyzed each of the 32 concepts to see which ones could be explained by the five patterns of Systematic Inventive Thinking. These patterns are the "DNA" of products that can be extracted and applied to any product or service to create new-to-the-world innovations. Dr. Jacob Goldenberg found in his research that the majority of successful innovations conform to one or more of these patterns. Conversely, the majority of unsuccessful innovations (those that failed in the marketplace) do not conform to a pattern.
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.
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.
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.
September 3, 2012

Innovation Sighting: Apple’s Use of Attribute Dependency in iPhones

"The Quiet TimeTM Universal System turns cell phones off automatically in designated areas such as theaters, hospitals, doctor's offices, and business meeting rooms. Our patented technology converts your incoming calls to text messages and alerts the cell phone owner." This may sound like the latest gizmo you would see at the Consumer Electronics Show. It is actually an invention created by my students using Systematic Inventive Thinking...in 2007, the year the iPhone was first released. Five years later, Apple has been awarded a patent described as an "apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device." It reveals a way to change aspects of a mobile device based on certain events or surroundings.
October 8, 2012

Innovation Sighting: SIT Patterns in the Next Wave in Digital Photography

It might surprise you that a single innovation pattern, Multiplication, formed the premise of all photography. The cameras you use today evolved from multiplication. The entire photography industry continues to benefit thanks to this powerful pattern. Multiplication is one of five simple patterns innovators have used for thousands of years. These patterns are the basis of Systematic Inventive Thinking, a method that channels your thinking and regulates the ideation process. The method works by taking a product, service, or process and applying a pattern to it. This changes the starting point. It morphs the product into something weird, perhaps unrecognizable. With this altered configuration (we call the Virtual Product), you work backwards to link it to a problem that it addresses or new benefit it delivers. The process is called Function Follows Form.
October 15, 2012

Innovation Sighting: Nissan’s Intelligent Car Horn

Nissan's latest innovation takes the lowly car horn and elevates it to the status of "smart." The 2013 Altima has a new feature that's likely to surprise buyers. It's called Easy-Fill Tire Alert. The car's tire pressure monitoring system informs drivers when a tire is low on air and then uses the sedan's horn and hazard lights to confirm that the tire has been filled adequately. This is a classic use of the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the innovation method called SIT. Task Unification works by taking a component and assigning it an additional job. That component can be an internal resource (in this case, something on or in the car) or an external resource, something in the vicinity of the car, but not within the manufacturer's control (a passenger, for example). The additional job can be "stolen" from another component or it can be assigned something new.
October 29, 2012

Innovation and the Base Rate

Suppose you're told that three out of four car accidents happen within 25 miles of your home. Are you safer driving away from home? Based on this statistic alone, most people would assume they are safer. But the picture changes when you consider an important part of this scenario called the base rate. In probability and statistics, the base rate is the underlying probability unconditioned by prior events. Failing to consider the base rate leads to wrong conclusions, known as the base-rate fallacy. In this example, the base rate is the total percentage of driving that happens within 25 miles of your home. Let's assume it is 90%. Given the odds of an accident are only 75% in an area you spend 90% of your time, driving close to home is clearly safer. Why does this matter in innovation? Understanding the base rate with a product's performance can lead to hidden insights and opportunities.