Teaching people how to innovate is rewarding. It empowers them. It unlocks their minds to believe that innovation can happen "on command." People realize there is no excuse for not having enough ideas or being innovative once they have been trained.
This month's LAB features the output of one of my students, Michael Sanders, in my class, "Applied Marketing Innovation." For the final exam, students were assigned a product at random. They had three hours to apply all five templates in the Systematic Inventive Thinking method to come up with true new-to-the-world innovations. They were graded on how correctly they applied each template as well as the novelty of their inventions. Michael's assignment: Garage Door Opener. Here is what he did.
People are fascinated with the idea of human cloning after researchers cloned a sheep in 1997. The debate about the risks and benefits of human cloning rages on. What if you could clone yourself in a virtual sense? Even better, imagine cloning yourself into another person's body? What would you feel? What would you learn? How would your life be better?
Dr. Henrik Ehrsson, a neuroscientist from Karolinska Institute in Sweden, has pioneered a method of allowing us to get out of our bodies and into the body of someone else...virtually...so that you sense whatever the other person senses. We "clone" ourselves everyday with simple technologies like a mirror or camera. But this is different. This technique clones you into another form so you can experience life from that point-of-view.
Over 2 million couples marry every year in the U.S.. This fuels the $50 billion dollar wedding industry. In an industry that prides itself in tradition, companies must innovate new products and services within those traditions if they want to grow and prosper. For this month's LAB, we will use the corporate innovation method, S.I.T. to create new-to-the-world ideas for wedding invitations.
Here are five unique ideas from graduate students* at the University of Cincinnati taking the course, "Systematic Innovation Tools." They constructed a hypothetical "Dream Catalog" of these ideas for a local start-up design company. Listed with each innovation is the specific innovation template the team used to create the idea. You can download this and the other Dream Catalogs here.
People can improve their innovation skills by mentally simulating the use of innovation tools. Chip and Dan Heath in their book, Made to Stick, talk of the importance of mental simulation with problem solving as well as skill-building.
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).
The Unification Tool is a tricky but effective advertising tool. Unification recruits an existing resource and forces it to carry the advertising message. That resource can come from within the medium itself or within the environment of the medium. In other words, the tool uses an existing component of the medium or of its environment in a way that demonstrates the problem or the promise to be delivered.
It's official. Pinterest has joined the elite group of social apps along with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Google Plus. "Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web." How popular is it? It is the fastest site ever to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark. A report by Shareaholic claims, “Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.” As of March 2012, Pinterest was valued at $1.5 billion.
There are many creative ways to use Pinterest. New apps are emerging around it much like what happened with Twitter. But to maintain growth, Pinterest needs innovation. For this month's LAB, we will apply Attribute Dependency, one of five techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking, to Pinterest. Our goal will be to create new innovations around Pinterest as we did with Twitter and Facebook.
Could creativity be as simple as following templates? In 1914 psychologist Wolfgang Köhler embarked on a series of studies about chimpanzees and their ability to solve problems. He documented the research in his book The Mentality of Apes. In one experiment, he took a newborn chimp and placed it in an isolated cage, before the newborn saw or made contact with other chimps. He named her Nueva.