Look at any industry, in any market, and you’ll find the same strategy playing out everywhere. Companies compete with one another in a mindless race to the bottom, matching products and services feature for feature, competing primarily on price. This commoditizes markets and drives down prices and margins. But ultimately, no one wins—not even the consumer--as quality, service and differentiation suffer. We call this senseless strategy “Attrition Competition”, and it is derived from prevailing military strategy, which seeks to overwhelm competitors.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus is a global emergency. To fight it, humans have to find a way to kill the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
Two marketing agencies in Brazil have designed a novel way to do just that. They call it The Mosquito Killer Billboard. It's a great example of the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the innovation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking. Here's how their innovation works:
The division technique works by dividing a product or its components functionally or physically and then rearranging them back into the product. Division is a powerful technique because it forces you to break fixedness, especially structural fixedness. Division forces you to create configurations by rearranging components in ways you were not likely to have done on with on your own.
You've heard that old adage. Don't judge a book by its cover. The same holds true in creativity. We want to resist the temptation of judging ideas depending on where it came from. Yet, its very difficult for us to do this. If we like the person, we tend to like their idea. And if we don't like that person, well, let's just say we might see a few more flaws than we might have otherwise.
I love umbrellas and the many versions that demonstrate the five patterns of Systematic Inventive Thinking. Here's a new one that demonstrates the Task Unification pattern. Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it's taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job.
Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it's taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job.
One of my favorites is the Absurd Alternative Tool. It works by offering exaggerated alternatives to using the product or service to highlight the benefit. But the key is to make the alternative truly absurd. Otherwise viewers can get confused.
Innovation is often associated with triumphant lone inventors. The likes of Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur or Bill Gates are the central characters in this narrative. But all innovators spring out of a specific context. The environments that foster their individual and collective success are very often ‘innovation clusters’: ecosystems that stimulate and nurture the best ideas and attract the brightest talents.
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!