Innovation in Practice Blog

October 27, 2020

Learning the Powerful, Yet Abstract Method of Attribute Dependency

Attribute Dependency is one of the five techniques of the SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking) method.  Just to give you an idea, think of your home thermostat […]
October 20, 2020

The Myth of Post-it Notes and Other Serendipitous Inventions: Why Pure Chance is Not Your Creative Friend

Chocolate chip cookies, penicillin, Velcro, microwave ovens, the game of basketball, and Post-It Notes. What do they have in common? Well, those products were invented completely […]
October 13, 2020

The Subtraction Technique: The Creative Power of Taking Elements Away

Subtraction is the removal of an essential core element rather than the addition of new systems or functions.  Like all the other techniques of the Systematic […]
October 6, 2020

The Multiplication Technique: A Simple Tool with Many Creative Surprises Inside

Procter & Gamble was able to take an air freshener product that was lagging at 4th place in terms of market share – to 1st place, […]
September 29, 2020

How to Create and Run an Innovation Pilot Program

Individuals and organizations need to learn at a rate faster than the rate of change. And innovation pilot programs help you do that.  But how do […]
September 22, 2020

Fixedness: Your Main Barrier to Creative Thinking

How do you develop your creativity? As much as you want to or need to be creative, sometimes, there’s something that seems to block it. And […]
September 15, 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 […]
September 8, 2020

Innovation Dream Teams: The Secret Formula to Drive Team Success

When you’re talking about innovation, a traditional brainstorming approach doesn’t work. If you want to generate better ideas, you have to be able to create your […]
September 1, 2020

Why People Resist Our Innovative Ideas and How To Overcome It

With innovation comes resistance. They define each other. An idea simply cannot be innovative unless it’s met with resistance. Because of this, we should see resistance […]
August 25, 2020

How to Use the Closed World Principle of Creativity

Creative thinking can be systematic and routine. All you have to do is learn how to use your brain and learn a new way to generate […]
January 8, 2009

Applied Marketing Innovation

Learning a corporate innovation method begins with formal training, and there is no better place to do that than in graduate businesss school. I am looking foward to meeting the 37 students enrolled in my MBA course at the University of Cincinnati this month. The course, "Applied Marketing Innovation," is a full credit "special topics" course. It is a fusion of Systematic Inventive Thinking and The Big Picture marketing framework. The Syllabus can be downloaded, but here are some details about it: This course focuses on how to create value and growth through innovation in new and existing markets. Students will learn the skills of innovation and how to apply those skills within the context of a marketing strategy framework. Students will apply innovation methods across the entire marketing management continuum including strategy, segmentation, targeting, positioning, and the 4P’s. The course will be taught using interactive workshop methods and techniques throughout. Students will first experience these facilitation techniques while learning innovation. They will then learn and practice these techniques so that they can apply them routinely throughout their graduate experience and beyond.
June 28, 2010

Innovation Sighting: Cannes Lions 2010

Cannes Lions, the International Advertising Festival, is the world's only truly global meeting place for professionals in the communications industry. It celebrates advertising winners each year in a variety of categories. The 57th festival was held last week. The Young Lions Film Competition is held the same week. Two creatives have 48 hours to write, shoot and edit a 30-second commercial. At the beginning of the week, the teams receive a brief from a charity chosen by the Festival. Forty-eight hours later, the teams' work is judged by the Film Lions jury. Here is a winning commercial from this year's Young Lions Film Competition:
September 6, 2010

The Voice of the Product

Could the greatest innovation of all time be a method of innovation? Roger Smith proposed this in The Evolution of Innovation. Is such a method out there? The answer is yes. Suppose you want to come up with a new product idea. Where do you begin? What method would you use? Conventional thinking suggests three possible directions. First, we could seek insights from our customers through research and observation (Voice of the Customer). Second, we could emulate what past inventors such as Edison and Disney did to create new ideas (Voice of the Expert). Or we could seek ideas from competitors and other sources using the "open" mindset (Voice of the Market).
November 15, 2010

Marketing Innovation: The Inversion Tool

Creating innovative TV commercials is more effective when using patterns embedded in other innovative commercials. Professor Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues discovered that 89% of 200 award winning ads fall into a few simple, well-defined design structures. Their latest book, "Cracking the Ad Code," defines eight of these structures and provides a step-by-step approach to use them. Here are the eight tools:
April 4, 2011

Marketing Innovation: The Metaphor Tool

The Metaphor is the most commonly used - and abused - tool in marketing communications, especially in western cultures. It is a great way to attach meaning to a newly-launched product or brand. But some approaches are more effective than others. The tool is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The eight tools are: 1. Unification 2. Activation 3. Metaphor 4. Subtraction 5. Extreme Consequence 6. Absurd Alternative 7. Inversion 8. Extreme Effort The Metaphor Tool takes a well-recognized and accepted cultural symbol and manipulates it to connect to the product, brand, or message. The trick is to do it in a non-obvious, clever way. The process is called fusion, and there are three versions of it: Metaphor fused to Product/Brand, Metaphor fused to Message, and Metaphor fused to both the Product/Brand and Message. Here is an example:
June 20, 2011

Marketing Innovation: Red Tape and The Inversion Tool

"Red tape" is defined as the collection or sequence of forms and procedures required to gain bureaucratic approval for something, especially when oppressively complex and time-consuming. That's how Southwest Airlines describes other airlines' frequent flyer programs versus its new Rapid Rewards program which has none of the traditional limitations like blackouts and point expiration. In a series of highly innovative commercials, Southwest demonstrates not one but two of the eight advertising tools described by Professor Jacob Goldenberg in "Cracking the Ad Code." These ads are flawlessly executed, funny, and memorable.
October 3, 2011

Marketing Innovation: Sharks to the Extreme

Great television commercials convey the right message in a creative way. They are memorable. The longer customers remember your commercial, the more cost effective the campaign. One way to make ads memorable is to make them funny and vivid. The Vividness Effect causes people to recall experiences and images that stand out in their minds. For example, sharks are scary, so they tend to be good choices to create vividness. But just showing sharks in a commercial is not enough. They have to be fused to the core marketing message - the value proposition. That is where you need a structured innovation process to channel the creativity process and regulate your thinking. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe eight such tools in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The tools are 1. Unification 2. Activation 3. Metaphor 4. Subtraction 5. Extreme Consequence 6. Absurd Alternative 7. Inversion and 8.Extreme Effort.
October 10, 2011

Social Enterprise Innovation

Congratulations to the Columbia Business School for hosting the 2011 Social Enterprise Conference. Six hundred enlightened attendees witnessed a unique lineup of keynote speakers and breakout sessions. Social enterprises are challenged to create new business models to capture social, economic and environmental value. The conference focused on supporting innovation, promoting sustainability, advancing technology, and building communities. Key Takeaways from my breakout session, “Designing a Better Social Enterprise,” were:
February 6, 2012

The Patterns in Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl commercials capture our attention because they tend to be highly creative and well-produced. At $3.5 million dollars for a thirty second spot, Super Bowl advertisers need to create the best, most innovative commercials possible. To do that, they use patterns. Professor Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues discovered that 89% of 200 award winning ads fall into a few simple, well-defined design structures. Their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," defines eight of these structures and provides a step-by-step approach to use them. Here are the eight tools: 1. Unification 2. Activation 3. Metaphor 4. Subtraction 5. Extreme Consequence 6. Absurd Alternative 7. Inversion 8. Extreme Effort Let's see how yesterday's 2012 Super Bowl ads fit these patterns.
May 7, 2012

Marketing Innovation: The Extreme Consequence Tool

Commercials that show the benefits of using the product are likely to be ignored because consumers expect it. The message becomes cliche. If the advertiser shows how the consumer is transformed by using the product, consumers become skeptical. Telling viewers they will become young and adventurous by drinking a soft drink lacks credibility. It is wishful thinking, but unrealistic. The ad is tossed aside. But show these same product benefits in an extreme, unrealistic way and the advertisement is likely to be more memorable. The message sinks in. That is the goal of the Extreme Consequence Tool. This tool creates ads that show the absurd result of using the product. Over exaggeration of the promise is viewed as clever and credible versus traditional exaggeration.