Innovation in Practice Blog

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 […]
August 18, 2020

Divide and Conquer – How to Use the Division Technique

A common misconception is that creativity is a gift you are born with. People believe that if they don’t have it right from birth, they have […]
November 30, 2008

The LAB: Innovating a Fishing Pole with Multiplication (November 2008)

Can you innovate a mature product? Consider the fishing pole which dates back to the ancient Egyptians - it certainly qualifies as a mature product. This month's LAB will innovate it by using the systematic innovation methodl called Multiplication. Fishing is the largest sporting activity in the U.S. with 40 million participants, far more than golf or tennis combined, the next two on the list. Recreational fishing generates more than $125 billion in economic output and more than one million American jobs. If sportfishing were a corporation, it would rank above Bank of America or IBM on the Fortune 100 list of largest American companies. The pathway to growth for any large, mature industry is: innovation!
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.
May 3, 2009

The LAB: Innovating a Surgical Mask with Task Unification (May 2009)

Crisis creates opportunity.  That certainly has been the case for surgical mask makers and retailers as people scramble to buy them to protect against the H1N1 […]
May 10, 2009

Innovation Archetypes

An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype after which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. Archetypes put context to a situation. We use archetypes, for example, in marketing. We create brand archetypes to assign a personality to the brand. An example of such a model is shown at right. In political debate, it's useful to understand whether a commentator is an "archetypical democrat" or an "archetypical republican." This helps frame their comments so we know where they are coming from. Listing to the Voice of Innovation is the same. As I read blogs, interviews, podcasts, and books on innovation, I try to determine the author's innovation archetype so I know where they are coming from. I observe at least four of these.
May 30, 2009

Are YOU an Innovator?

Do you consider yourself an innovator? I asked this to a group of participants at a recent PDMA workshop, and the results surprised me. Only about half of the participants raised their hand. Many of those had that hesitant look of self-doubt on their face. It's a difficult question. How do you really know if you are an innovator? Is it based on the number of patents you hold? Is it a function of your job title? Is it based on your creative endeavors like music or art? Take this self-assessment to find out. Place a check mark beside the statement you believe is more true. (Click here for a printable version and for scoring instructions.)
February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Innovation

At $3 million dollars for a thirty second spot, Super Bowl advertisers need to create the best, most innovative commercials possible. How? 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 book, "Cracking the Ad Code," defines eight of these structures and provides a step-by-step approach to use them.
February 21, 2011

Innovation Sighting: The Division Template on Music

The power of the SIT method lies in the fact that inventors, for thousands of years, have embedded five simple patterns into their inventions, usually without knowing it. These patterns are the "DNA" of products that can be extracted and applied to any product or service to create new-to-the-world innovations. Here is an example of an innovator working diligently to create a new innovation in the field of music - called "Music for Shuffle." The inventor, Matthew Irvine Brown, is using the Divison technique to create musical phrases that can be played together in any random order. The phrases interlock with each other to create a continuous stream of music - a song. Listen:
July 25, 2011

The LAB: Innovating a Corporate Training Program (July 2011)

Corporate training is a $60 billion dollar industry and growing as the economy recovers. As with any industry, significant changes are occurring. Companies spend less on fixed internal resources and are outsourcing more. Learners are changing in the way they learn, perhaps due to the generational shift. And of course, technology has made the social side of learning more available and effective. Training executives, those who manage company training resources and programs, must continue to innovate to address these changes to stay relevant. For this month's LAB, we will apply the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to a training program. Our goal is to find new-to-the-world concepts that improve a company's training efforts. The method works by applying one of five innovation patterns to components within the training environment. The pattern has the effect of morphing the component into something that seems unrecognizable or ambiguous. We take that "virtual product" and work backwards to uncover potential benefits or markets served, a process called "Function Follows Form."
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.
November 14, 2011

The LAB: Innovating the Pricing Process (November 2011)

Setting prices on new products and services is one of the most challenging roles in marketing. Pricing mistakes are costly, yet it's one of the most tempting tools to use when trying to generate revenues. Fortunately, methods like Value Based Pricing and frameworks like The Big Picture make the job easier. What if you wanted to explore more innovative ways to set prices? Applying the SIT innovation patterns would create new insights and options. The SIT patterns help break fixedness - the tendency to limit the way we see things to what we know. These patterns are innate to all of us. We just need to "extract" them from within and deploy them in a systematic way. For this month's LAB, we will apply SIT to pricing. While there are many methods and schools of thought around pricing, the SIT templates should apply to any of them. I would do the following.