Teaching people how to innovate is rewarding. It empowers them. It unlocks their minds to believe that innovation can happen "on command." People realize there is no excuse for not having enough ideas or being innovative once they have been trained.
This month's LAB features the output of one of my students, Michael Sanders, in my class, "Applied Marketing Innovation." For the final exam, students were assigned a product at random. They had three hours to apply all five templates in the Systematic Inventive Thinking method to come up with true new-to-the-world innovations. They were graded on how correctly they applied each template as well as the novelty of their inventions. Michael's assignment: Garage Door Opener. Here is what he did.
University of Michigan who I met last week while lecturing there. He was intrigued by Systematic Inventive Thinking, and he emailed me with a proposition. He noted that I preach a lot about the value of team innovation, but I don't practice what I preach. He noticed in my LAB series that I innovate alone, thus not taking advantage of the power of collaboration. He was right. So I accepted his offer to join me in my next LAB posting...this one.
We decided to innovate a computer keyboard using the Attribute Dependency tool. But there is more to the story. We did this all via phone while he was in Ann Arbor and I was in Naples, Florida on holiday. In fact, I decided to multi-task by both innovating with Zach while doing one of my favorite pastimes: fishing. My ultimate dream was to create a BIG innovation while simultaneously catching a BIG fish. Of course, luck would determine the ultimate outcome. The big innovation was something I could count on happening. Fish, on the other hand, tend to be less cooperative.
Credit card companies must innovate to overcome the financial and public relations consequences of recent government legislation. The Credit Card Reform Act of 2009 is a "bill to protect consumers, and especially young consumers, from skyrocketing credit card debt, unfair credit card practices, and deceptive credit offers." These changes go into effect in 2010, and they will undoubtedly reduce the financial performance of card issuers.
“We put the ‘no’ in innovation!” The good people at Post Cereal have a new twist on innovation…NOT innovating as a statement of the products ubiquity and staying power. “Some things just weren’t meant to be innovated." How could I resist? It was just too tempting to use systematic innovation on this simple product, especially in light of the perception that it should not be innovated. Though the ad campaign is a spoof, I wonder just how much the people at Post really believe this. What if shredded wheat could be innovated to create new growth potential for this sixty year old product?
Health Care Reform, as the U.S. government sees it, promises lower costs, better access, and improved quality for all. Let's apply a structured innovation method to health care to see if we can achieve some of these goals. For this month's LAB, we will apply Systematic Inventive Thinking to the hospital discharge process.
Ice hockey is big business. But it lags behind other professional sports - soccer, football, baseball, and basketball. As with all industries, the key to growth is innovation. Equipment manufacturers such as Reebok are taking this seriously with the creation of the Hockey Research and Innovation Center. In this month's LAB, we will focus on the equipment side of hockey, specifically on: the hockey stick.
Embracing social media and the myriad of Web 2.0 tools is more challenging than just setting up a Facebook account or adding a “Follow Me on Twitter” link. A lot of organizations struggle with how to take advantage of the power of Web 2.0. Where do you start? How do you tie these new tools in with your current website? How do you make sure you keep your current constituents happy while moving the organization to a more networked world?
For this month’s LAB, we will use the innovation template called Task Unification, one of five templates of the corporate innovation method called S.I.T.. To use Task Unification, we take a component of a product, service, system, etc, and we assign an additional job to it. For this exercise involving Social Media, here is how it works. Imagine your company has a large base of employees in the field. For example, suppose your company has a large sales force or an extensive network of delivery or service people. Consider the U.S. Postal Service, for example, with an army of postal workers and letter carriers at over 32,000 post offices. A key question for these organizations like the USPS is: how to get more value out of this fixed asset? Let's use Task Unification.
I start by visiting a site that inventories all the social web tools: GO2WEB20.NET. I randomly pick an application from this list. Then I assign the internal field resources to "use" this application to increase revenue/profits for the company. Using our example of the postal service, I create this statement: "Postal delivery staff have the additional 'job' of using XXXX (web application) to increase USPS performance."
The key is to use the non-obvious applications for creating new, innovative services. Here are examples I created using Task Unification:
Mobility is a good thing. As mobility increases, so does our standard of living. Mobility expands job opportunities, enriches our personal life, and boosts prosperity. For nations, mobility expands trade, creates wealth, and makes countries more competitive. Mobility even helps us live longer. For hundreds of years, life expectancies hovered around 40 years. During the 1800s they began to shoot up when road transport improved. Today life expectancies in many advanced societies approach 80 years thanks to improved mobility in transportation, communications, and network computing.
How can we use structured innovation to create more of it? How can we make the products and services we use every day more mobile? For this month's LAB, we will use the Division Template. We begin by listing the product's (or service's) internal components. Then we divide one or more of the components in one of three ways:
Innovation puts cash in your wallet. But what about the wallet itself? For this month's LAB, we will apply the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to create new and useful concepts for the wallet.
Wallets are the most personal items we own. They carry our money, credit cards, identification, licenses, photographs, and other memorabilia. Your wallet says a lot about you. As with food, we try to stuff more inside while staying thin. Wallets have been around a long time. Today, the wallet industry is a multi-billion dollar market fueled by new designs and innovation. Here are six unique wallet concepts invented using the five templates in the S.I.T. method. They were created by graduate students at the University of Cincinnati as part of their course requirements in "Applied Marketing Innovation."