Innovation Sighting: Task Unification in a Parking Lot

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Innovation Sighting: Task Unification in a Parking Lot

The Task Unification Technique is one of five in the innovation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking. It is defined as "assiging an additional task to an existing resource." It is such a powerful technique because it often leads to Closed World solutions, or what we like to call "thinking inside the box." It yields innovations that tend to leverage some resource in the immediate vicinity in a clever way. It also tends to yield innovations that have a characteristic known as Ideality - the solution to a problem only appears when needed. When the problem arises, the solution is also there.

The Task Unification Technique is one of five in the innovation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking. It is defined as "assiging an additional task to an existing resource." It is such a powerful technique because it often leads to Closed World solutions, or what we like to call "thinking inside the box." It yields innovations that tend to leverage some resource in the immediate vicinity in a clever way. It also tends to yield innovations that have a characteristic known as Ideality – the solution to a problem only appears when needed.  When the problem arises, the solution is also there.

Here is a perfect example. It comes from an oil company in Seoul, Korea that wanted to reduce the wasted driving time looking for open parking slots:

To use Task Unification:

1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.

2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task. Consider ways to use each of the three Task Unification methods:

  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product already accomplishes
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it do the function of an external component (effectively “stealing” the external component’s function)

3. If you decide that an idea is valuable, you move on to the next question: Is it feasible? Can you actually create this new product? Perform this new service? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?