Process Innovation: Unlocking New Value in What You Do Everyday

008: Fixedness: Your Main Barrier to Creative Thinking
September 14, 2020
009: How to Create and Run an Innovation Pilot Program
September 21, 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 that you can apply the SIT method to your service:

The Division Technique

The division technique is defined as cutting a component physically or functionally and then rearranging it somewhere else back into the system or process. 

Example: The hotel check-in process

Imagine you work for a large hotel chain like Marriott. A hotel is a collection of many processes – the check-in process, the check-out process, room service, concierge service, bellman service, etc. In this case, let’s choose the check-in process.

  1. List the steps/components of a service. 
  • Sit down with your colleagues and list out the steps of the check-in process. Identify when the process starts and ends. 
  • For example, the starting point is when they make the reservation. Then list out all the steps from there all the way through, to placing the key into the room as your end of the hotel check-in process. 
  • What’s essential is that you and your colleagues are completely aligned around that starting point and the ending point. 
  1. Cut one of those steps physically or functionally. 

Randomly pick one of those steps and pull it out of the process. Using the same example, imagine a scenario where you check in when you get into the elevator. 

People don’t check into hotels in elevators, that’s crazy. But that’s the point of the SIT method. It helps you break structural fixedness. The point is to look for opportunities where you see the structure of the process in a different way than what you’re used to.

  1. Ask these two questions:
  • Should we do it?: Determine its value.
  • Can we do it?: Identify physical barriers as well as legal and other constraints, and allow some modifications to improve, refine, and make the idea tenable.

Task Unification

Task unification is defined as assigning an additional job to an existing resource. In the case of service innovation, a step of the process now has its original job. And now you’ve artificially assigned it some additional job, something that it wasn’t designed to do. 

Just like division, task unification forces you to see those components of the service or process in a different way. In this case, it’s going to help you break functional fixedness. 

  1. List the components of the service and randomly pick a component.

Let’s use the same example above: the hotel check-in process. List all the steps of the check-in process.

  1. Force that step to do some other job.

Step 5 now has the additional job of Step 12 of the process. Another way is to force the component to do something else that’s highly valuable to you. For example, you create an additional job of reassuring your guests that the building has been properly sanitized.

To hear more on how you can use the SIT method to innovating your products or services, listen to the full podcast episode here: Episode 007: Process Innovation: Unlocking New Value in What You Do Everyday.