Innovation Sighting: Social Innovation Using S.I.T.

by | Nov 30, 2009 | Consultants, Ideation | 1 comment

How do you get people to be more socially responsible?  Here is an example* that demonstrates the use of Task Unification, a template from the corporate innovation method called S.I.T.:

To use Task Unification, we assign an additional job to an existing resource. Then we work backwards to envision the potential benefits of such a scheme, how it would work, and how to adapt it to make it better. In the example above, we create a statement as follows: "The stairs have the additional job of making people want to use the stairs more." Then we innovate ways to make this happen.  Having the stairs play music as you walk in the form of a piano is novel, useful, and surprising.  It meets all three tests of innovativeness.

Let's turn this around a bit to make the point even more.  Let's create a new statement (our Virtual Product):  "The escalator has the job of making people want to use the stairs more."  Now let's imagine ways to make this happen.  Here is what I came up with:

  • The escalator slows down as more people use it.  As people approach the escalator and see others on it already, they will be less likely to use it.  Perhaps it makes a groaning sound as it slows down (thanks, Amnon!).
  • The escalator has a repeating taped message encouraging people to consider the health benefits of walking the stairs (perhaps by comparing the amount of calories burned by using the stairs instead of the escalator).
  • Put a handicapped sign on the escalator, or perhaps some other indicator that the escalator is for those who are not fully fit.
  • Make something happen at the top of the escalator that people typically want to avoid such as an unpleasant message or homeless person asking for spare change.

Here is another example:  (both of these are from sponsored by Volkswagen):

* Special thanks to Gary Vince from Toronto for sending me these examples.