Innovation in Practice Blog

October 6, 2020

The Multiplication Technique: A Simple Tool with Many Creative Surprises Inside

Procter & Gamble was able to take an air freshener product that was lagging at 4th place in terms of market share – to 1st place, […]
September 29, 2020

How to Create and Run an Innovation Pilot Program

Individuals and organizations need to learn at a rate faster than the rate of change. And innovation pilot programs help you do that.  But how do […]
September 22, 2020

Fixedness: Your Main Barrier to Creative Thinking

How do you develop your creativity? As much as you want to or need to be creative, sometimes, there’s something that seems to block it. And […]
September 15, 2020

Process Innovation: Unlocking New Value in What You Do Everyday

The Systematic Inventive Thinking or SIT method is not only applicable to products, it’s also highly valuable in innovating services and processes.  Here are two ways […]
September 8, 2020

Innovation Dream Teams: The Secret Formula to Drive Team Success

When you’re talking about innovation, a traditional brainstorming approach doesn’t work. If you want to generate better ideas, you have to be able to create your […]
September 1, 2020

Why People Resist Our Innovative Ideas and How To Overcome It

With innovation comes resistance. They define each other. An idea simply cannot be innovative unless it’s met with resistance. Because of this, we should see resistance […]
August 25, 2020

How to Use the Closed World Principle of Creativity

Creative thinking can be systematic and routine. All you have to do is learn how to use your brain and learn a new way to generate […]
August 18, 2020

Divide and Conquer – How to Use the Division Technique

A common misconception is that creativity is a gift you are born with. People believe that if they don’t have it right from birth, they have […]
August 11, 2020

A Path to More Creative Thinking

Innovation is a skill. It’s not a gift. It’s not something you’re born with. But you can actually learn to be creative like you could learn […]
August 10, 2020

Task Unification – The Go-To Innovation Tool to Break Functional Fixedness

Mankind has used patterns for thousands of years to solve everyday problems. Those patterns are now embedded into the products and services you see around you […]
November 8, 2010

The LAB: Innovating the Blackberry with S.I.T. (November 2010)

Blackberry is taking a shellacking from iPhone and Android. It's market share has declined 4% in four months. Why? The company drifted from a strategy built around its core competency and is frantically chasing its app-crazed competitors. Though Blackberry defined the smart phone category, it will lose its lead unless it changes. Blackberry needs innovation. This month's LAB outlines an approach for using the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to Blackberry. The focus is how to disrupt iPhone and Droid and re-assert dominance in the smart phone category.
December 27, 2010

The LAB: Innovating Athletic Shoes with S.I.T. (December 2010)

The athletic footwear market is maturing, so it will need sustained innovation to keep growing. "Performance footwear" emerged with the ancient Greeks and has since grown to a $50 billion global industry. Innovations such as vulcanized rubber, high tops, arch support, specialized functions, endorsements, and branding have kept the industry vibrant and growing, especially for the dominant three players: Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. Now it's crunch time! For this month's LAB, we will use the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to create new athletic shoe concepts. The method 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 graduate students at the University of Cincinnati as part of their graded requirements in the innovation tools course.
January 10, 2011

The LAB: Innovating the Book with S.I.T. (January 2011)

Book publishing faces turbulent times. While the market is growing, key parts of the business model are coming apart at the seams. Market segments are fragmenting, price points are changing, channel power is shifting, and barriers to entry are lowering. Even the definition of "a book" is in question. Is it the medium (printed pages between two pieces of cardboard, electronic, online)? Or is it the message (the story, the characters, the themes)? When an industry faces turmoil, there is only one thing to do - innovate! For this month's LAB, lets innovate the plain old, everyday book, an idea that goes back 5000 years. We will use the corporate innovation method, S.I.T.. It is based on five patterns. We use the patterns to create hypothetical, abstract "solutions." Then we work backwards from the solution to try and identify potential problems that it solves. This works well because there is an asymmetry in people's thought process effectiveness when it comes to creativity. People are more fluent and easier with searching for benefits for given configurations than finding the best configuration for a given benefit or function. The term for it is called Function Follows Form.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.