Innovation in Practice Blog

January 12, 2021

The Creative Power of Thinking Big: How to Improve Your Ideas with One Simple Trick

Think big. You’ve probably heard that a lot of times.  As leaders, we need to be more aggressive, take more risks, and challenge ourselves to think […]
January 5, 2021

The Temptation of Creative Ideas: How We View Ideas Differently Depending on the Source

The next time you come up with a great idea, don’t share it with anyone! Sounds absurd, right? Here’s a better way of saying that: If […]
December 29, 2020

You’re Awesome! How Sarcasm Enhances Creativity

Sarcasm is the idea of using irony in a way to mock somebody or to insult them. While sarcasm can be insulting and hurtful to somebody, […]
December 22, 2020

The Golden Rule of Creativity

The golden rule says that you should treat others as you want them to treat you.  Now, the golden rule of creativity states that if you […]
December 15, 2020

Where There’s Hope, There’s Creativity: The 5 Modes of Hoping

Do you feel like you’re never going to get any creative stuff going?  Well, never lose hope – because hope is a prerequisite to be creative. […]
December 8, 2020

What Makes Something Creative? The Characteristics of Highly Innovative Ideas

What is it about some products and services that make them more innovative and more creative than other products?  What is their secret ingredient? Well, it […]
December 1, 2020

Have You Reached Your Creative Peak?

Do you feel you’ve reached your optimum level of creativity? If not, when is that going to happen? And if yes, how do maintain that level […]
November 24, 2020

Finding Your Creative Sweet Spot: How to Make an Idea More Appealing

Not all ideas are equal. Some are okay, some are great. But don’t just throw those okay ideas away. The key is to find that creative […]
November 17, 2020

Six Best Books on Creativity: The Classics that Teach the How and Not the Why

If you like creativity and innovation, there are a lot of great books out there that cover just a wide range of topics. So how do […]
November 10, 2020

The Myth of Outside the Box Thinking: Why Brainstorming and Other Such Techniques Are Your Worst Enemy

How many brainstorming sessions have you been in? What really came out of it? What was the process like for you? How did you feel about […]
September 28, 2008

The LAB: Innovating the iPhone with Attribute Dependency (September 2008)

Here are ten innovations for the iPhone that I would love to see. I created these using the Attribute Dependency tool. It is the most powerful of the five tools of Systematic Inventive Thinking, but also the most difficult to learn. To use Attribute Dependency, we start by making two lists. The first is a list of internal attributes of the iPhone. The second is a list of external attributes - those factors that are not under the control of the manufacturer (Apple, in this case), but that vary in the context of how the product or service is used. Then we create a matrix with the internal and external attributes on one axis, and the internal attributes only on the other axis. This matrix forces the combinations of internal-to-internal and internal-to-external attributes that we will use to innovate.
October 13, 2008

TiVoing Dead People

George Orwell died January 21, 1950 at the age of 46. He is considered one of the great all-time fiction writers with works like Animal House and Nineteen Eighty Four. What if he were alive today? What would he say, and what would he write about? What if he blogged? What would the conversation be within the blogosphere? Much to my surprise, George Orwell is blogging...sort of. The Orwell Prize, Britain’s pre-eminent prize for political writing, is publishing George Orwell’s diaries as a blog. Orwell’s domestic and political diaries from August 1938 until October 1942 are being posted in real-time, exactly 70 years after the entries were written. The diaries are exactly as Orwell wrote them.
February 15, 2009

The LAB: Monetizing Twitter with Attribute Dependency (February 2009)

Venture capitalists could increase the value of their investments by applying a corporate innovation method to those investments. Take Twitter for example. It just received its third round of funding - $35 million. Yet it has no revenue, no business model...just the promise of such. It is the perfect time to innovate. I decided to take the challenge to create new concepts for the Twitter platform that have the potential to earn money. Others are chasing this, too, including the Twitter management team. It reminds me of the early days of Amazon when many (including me) wondered if the company would turn a profit. The difference between Twitter and Amazon is an important one. Amazon started with a business model in mind. From there, it had to achieve economies of scale. Twitter started with none. Economies of scale do not matter until it can define a viable business model. Let's see how innovation can help.
April 13, 2009

The LAB: Innovating a Computer Keyboard with Attribute Dependency (April 2009)

University of Michigan who I met last week while lecturing there. He was intrigued by Systematic Inventive Thinking, and he emailed me with a proposition. He noted that I preach a lot about the value of team innovation, but I don't practice what I preach. He noticed in my LAB series that I innovate alone, thus not taking advantage of the power of collaboration. He was right. So I accepted his offer to join me in my next LAB posting...this one. We decided to innovate a computer keyboard using the Attribute Dependency tool. But there is more to the story. We did this all via phone while he was in Ann Arbor and I was in Naples, Florida on holiday. In fact, I decided to multi-task by both innovating with Zach while doing one of my favorite pastimes: fishing. My ultimate dream was to create a BIG innovation while simultaneously catching a BIG fish. Of course, luck would determine the ultimate outcome. The big innovation was something I could count on happening. Fish, on the other hand, tend to be less cooperative.
August 14, 2009

Innovation Sighting: Web Site Morphing with Attribute Dependency

Imagine a Web site that detects a visitor's "thinking" style and "morphs" its look and feel to suit that visitor's style? Professor Glen Urban and his colleagues at M.I.T. describe an approach in the Sloan Management Review article, "Morph the Web To Build Empathy, Trust and Sales." They collaborated with BT Group, the UK-based telecom company to create a website that learns whether a person prefers a more analytical style versus a holistic style, and whether the person is a more visual versus verbal in how they process information. Once the Web site learns this (based on a few preliminary clicks on the site), it adapts itself to present information in an optimal way:
August 30, 2009

The Livescribe Pulse Smart Pen – Never Miss an Idea

Innovating is mental, visual, and vocal. Here is a new product to help capture...and coordinate...all three. It is called the PulseTM by Livescribe. The PulseTM is a smart pen that records and links audio to what your write, so you never miss a word...or an idea. The PulseTM will become a great tool for conducting innovation workshops. One of the more challenging issues in conducting workshops is capturing ideas. No matter how diligent the team is in collecting ideas, many subtle insights and ideas are missed. Even if an innovation workshop is recorded on audio tape or video tape, it would be nearly impossible to connect the spoken words to the drawings and notes taken by the participants. The PulseTM SmartPen solves that.
September 28, 2009

The LAB: Innovating the Hockey Stick with Attribute Dependency (September 2009)

Ice hockey is big business. But it lags behind other professional sports - soccer, football, baseball, and basketball. As with all industries, the key to growth is innovation. Equipment manufacturers such as Reebok are taking this seriously with the creation of the Hockey Research and Innovation Center. In this month's LAB, we will focus on the equipment side of hockey, specifically on: the hockey stick.
January 31, 2010

The LAB: Innovating the iPad with Attribute Dependency (January 2010)

Apple's iPad creates a new category of consumer electronic somewhere between smart phones and notebook computers. Success depends on how well it embeds into our everyday routines at work, home, and elsewhere. Success also depends on how well it creates new routines. A great innovation tool for this is the Attribute Dependency template of the corporate innovation method called S.I.T.. This template creates (or breaks) dependencies between attributes of the product and the external environment. The iPad already has many of these. My favorite, for example, is the ability to show the correct display no matter how you hold the device. There is no up or down. It is an example of breaking a dependency between screen orientation and device orientation.
August 30, 2010

The LAB: Innovating Website Design with Attribute Dependency (August 2010)

Imagine a website that changes depending on the visitor. Researchers at M.I.T. describe such a website that learns a person's thinking style based on preliminary clicks so it can present information in an optimal way. Purchase intentions increased 20%! This is an example of the Attribute Dependency tool of the corporate innovation method, S.I.T.. It's great for creating "smart" products and services - those that adapt to user preferences or environmental conditions. For this month's LAB, let's apply Attribute Dependency to other aspects of websites to create new, innovative designs or features.
October 11, 2010

The LAB: Innovating Baseball with Attribute Dependency (October 2010)

Baseball has a density problem. The ratio of "minutes of action" over "total minutes played" is low. Consider for example, the "no-hitter" pitched by Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies. Not a single opposing player was able to reach first base because of his performance. Baseball is essentially a duel between pitcher and batter. If there was a way to trade out some of the pitching duel for more field play, baseball would be less boring. For this month's LAB, let's apply the corporate innovation method, SIT, to find potential improvements to the game of baseball. The method is based on five patterns inherent in many innovative products. By extracting and applying those patterns, we can innovate anything. For baseball, we will apply Attribute Dependency tool. Here is how it works.