Innovation in Practice Blog

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! […]
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 […]
October 22, 2018

Attribute Dependency in Bifocal Glasses

Bifocal users must no longer battle their strange, new lenses, thanks to the technology of Mitsui Chemicals of Japan. This spring, Mitsui launched their TouchFocus line, […]
October 15, 2018

Running Effective Innovation Workshops

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that innovation is a team sport. The strongest teams are characterized by functional, gender, and cultural diversity among its members. And, […]
October 3, 2018

Training Your Team to Innovate

To drive innovation across your company, you must train your employees how to innovate. Innovation is a skill, not a gift, and it can be learned […]
September 24, 2018

Motivating Innovative Behavior

Innovators are at their best when they feel a sense of purpose. As a marketing leader you play a key role in that dynamic. Innovators have […]
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 […]
September 11, 2018

3 Ways to Improve Team Innovation

The most powerful innovation comes when teams work together. Driving innovation means getting individual employees to be more innovative, but it also means getting high performance […]
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 […]
August 31, 2018

Keeping Your Innovation Momentum

At some point in your journey to drive innovation, you’ll want to take a deep breath and ask – what happened here? What have we achieved? […]
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.
October 31, 2011

The LAB: Innovating the Light Switch (October 2011)

How do you know which SIT tool to use on your product? That is one of the most common questions from my students and workshop participants. One way to decide is to analyze the current products in the category. You look for SIT patterns that tend to dominate how the product emerged and evolved over the years. I look at recent innovations in the category to spot trends. I also try to identify where the industry might have some "fixedness" about the products and how they are used. The type of fixedness (functional, structural, or relational) can lend insight about which SIT tool to start with.
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.
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.
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."
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.
May 30, 2011

The LAB: Innovating the Treadmill with S.I.T. (May 2011)

In 1817, Sir William Cubitt innovated the treadmill as a method of reforming prison convicts who got out of line. Today, that "torture" continues. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, fifty million Americans use a treadmill. Sales of treadmills are $1 billion annually of the total $4 billion fitness equipment industry. For this month's LAB, we will use the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to create new-to-the-world concepts for the ubiquitous treadmill. S.I.T. works by taking one of five patterns (subtraction, task unification, division, multiplication, and attribute dependency) and applying it to an existing product or service. This morphs it into a "virtual product," which is an abstract, ambiguous notion with no clear purpose. We then work backwards (Function Follows Form) to find new and useful benefits or markets for the virtual product.
April 25, 2011

The LAB: Innovating Cosmetics with S.I.T. (April 2011)

The cosmetic industry thrives on innovation and fashion design especially in the areas of product development and retail merchandising. It generates nearly US$200 billion worldwide and is growing. For this month's LAB, we will use the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to create new innovations for lipstick, a product that dates back to the ancient Egyptians. S.I.T. works by taking one of the five patterns (subtraction, task unification, division, multiplication, and attribute dependency) and applying it to an existing product or service. This morphs it into a "virtual product," which is an abstract, ambiguous notion with no clear purpose. We then work backwards (Function Follows Form) to find new and useful benefits or markets for the virtual product. Here are five innovations created by *students at the University of Cincinnati as part of the innovation tools course.
March 28, 2011

The LAB: Innovating Facebook with Attribute Dependency (March 2011)

Facebook innovated its way to become the dominate social network with 600 million users in just six years since launch. What will it do for an encore? More importantly, how will it continue to innovate? For this month's LAB, we will apply the Attribute Dependency tool to demonstrate how Facebook might continue re-inventing itself. To use Attribute Dependency, make two lists. The first is a list of internal attributes. The second is a list of external attributes - those factors that are not under your control, but that vary in the context of how the product or service is used. Then create a matrix with the internal and external attributes on one axis, and the internal attributes only on the other axis. The matrix creates combinations of internal-to-internal and internal-to-external attributes that we will use to innovate. We take these virtual combinations and envision them in two ways. If no dependency exists between the attributes, we create one. If a dependency exists, we break it. Using Function Follows Form, we envision what the benefit or potential value might be from the new (or broken) dependency between the two attributes. Here are attributes of the Facebook experience:
February 28, 2011

The LAB: Innovating Inflight Services with S.I.T. (February 2011)

Airline service innovation seems like an oxymoron considering the industry's reputation for low quality. But the industry is fighting back to improve its image. Companies that specialize in inflight entertainment as well as airframe manufacturers are accelerating the use of new technologies to deliver more value in the air. That's good news for an industry that has focused way too long on cost-cutting. The next battle for supremacy will be won by airlines and aviation companies that innovate services across the experiential "journey" in a sustained way. For this month's LAB, we will create new-to-the-world concepts for the inflight service experience using the S.I.T. tool set. We begin by creating a list of the components of the product or service. We select a component and we further break it down to its sub-components or attributes that we can focus on. We then apply a tool to that component to change it in some way. Working backwards ("Function Follows Form"), we envision potential benefits of the modified service to both the customer and the company. Here is a list of components: