Daylight Savings Time: Innovation Past Its Prime

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Daylight Savings Time: Innovation Past Its Prime

Daylight savings time is a great example of the Division Technique, one of five in the innovation method called SIT, short for Systematic Inventive Thinking. Division works by taking a component of a product or the product itself, then dividing it physically or functionally and rearranging back into the system. Daylight savings time is the result of taking the standard day, dividing it and shifting it to "appear" an hour off from standard time. It's a great idea except for one problem - the benefit of this innovation is no longer realized. Daylight savings served a purpose early in its history, but is obsolete today.

Daylight savings time is a great example of the Division Technique, one of five in the innovation method called SIT, short for Systematic Inventive Thinking. Division works by taking a component of a product or the product itself, then dividing it physically or functionally and rearranging it back into the system.

Daylight savings time is the result of taking the standard day, dividing it and shifting it to “appear” an hour off from standard time. It’s a great idea except for one problem – the benefit of this innovation is no longer realized. Daylight savings served a purpose early in its history, but is obsolete today. Here is a nice summary of the issues from Atlantic magazine:

As most people no doubt noticed given that they were robbed of an hour of sleep, Sunday marked the beginning of Daylight Saving Time in the United States, Canada, and several other countries and territories in North America. For morning people, Daylight Saving is a drag, depriving them of an hour of tranquil morning light. But for others, “spring forward” brings with it the promise of long, languid afternoons and warmer weather.

Like millions of other Americans who have slogged through an uncomfortably cold winter, I’m looking forward to the change of season. But Daylight Saving Time is an annual tradition whose time has passed. In contemporary society, it’s not only unnecessary: It’s also wasteful, cruel, and dangerous. And it’s long past time to bid it goodbye.

But does Daylight Saving Time actually make much of a difference? Evidence suggests that the answer is no. After the Australian government extended Daylight Saving Time by two months in 2000 in order to accommodate the Sydney Olympic Games, a study at UC Berkeley showed that the move failed to reduce electricity demand at all. More recently, a study of homes in Indiana—a state that adopted Daylight Saving Time only in 2006—showed that the savings from electricity use were negated, and then some, by additional use of air conditioning and heat.

The simple act of adjusting to the time change, however subtle, also has measurable consequences. Many people feel the effects of the “spring forward” for longer than a day; a study showed that Americans lose around 40 minutes of sleep on the Sunday night after the shift. This means more than just additional yawns on Monday: the resulting loss in productivity costs the economy an estimated $434 million a year.

To get the most out of the Division technique, you follow five basic steps:

1. List the product’s or service’s internal components.

2. Divide the product or service in one of three ways:

Functional (take a component and rearrange its location or when it appears).
Physical (cut the product or one of its components along any physical line and rearrange it).
Preserving (divide the product or service into smaller pieces, where each piece still possesses all the characteristics of the whole).
3. Visualize the new (or changed) product or service.

4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?

5. If you decide you have a new product or service that is indeed valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create this new product or perform this new service? Why or why not? Can you refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?