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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.