Innovation in Practice Blog

January 12, 2021

The Creative Power of Thinking Big: How to Improve Your Ideas with One Simple Trick

Think big. You’ve probably heard that a lot of times.  As leaders, we need to be more aggressive, take more risks, and challenge ourselves to think […]
January 5, 2021

The Temptation of Creative Ideas: How We View Ideas Differently Depending on the Source

The next time you come up with a great idea, don’t share it with anyone! Sounds absurd, right? Here’s a better way of saying that: If […]
December 29, 2020

You’re Awesome! How Sarcasm Enhances Creativity

Sarcasm is the idea of using irony in a way to mock somebody or to insult them. While sarcasm can be insulting and hurtful to somebody, […]
December 22, 2020

The Golden Rule of Creativity

The golden rule says that you should treat others as you want them to treat you.  Now, the golden rule of creativity states that if you […]
December 15, 2020

Where There’s Hope, There’s Creativity: The 5 Modes of Hoping

Do you feel like you’re never going to get any creative stuff going?  Well, never lose hope – because hope is a prerequisite to be creative. […]
December 8, 2020

What Makes Something Creative? The Characteristics of Highly Innovative Ideas

What is it about some products and services that make them more innovative and more creative than other products?  What is their secret ingredient? Well, it […]
December 1, 2020

Have You Reached Your Creative Peak?

Do you feel you’ve reached your optimum level of creativity? If not, when is that going to happen? And if yes, how do maintain that level […]
November 24, 2020

Finding Your Creative Sweet Spot: How to Make an Idea More Appealing

Not all ideas are equal. Some are okay, some are great. But don’t just throw those okay ideas away. The key is to find that creative […]
November 17, 2020

Six Best Books on Creativity: The Classics that Teach the How and Not the Why

If you like creativity and innovation, there are a lot of great books out there that cover just a wide range of topics. So how do […]
November 10, 2020

The Myth of Outside the Box Thinking: Why Brainstorming and Other Such Techniques Are Your Worst Enemy

How many brainstorming sessions have you been in? What really came out of it? What was the process like for you? How did you feel about […]
December 4, 2007

Why Innovation is Hard: Ten Most Popular Reasons

A systematic, routine to way to innovate can break through the challenges and perceptions that innovation is hard.
December 30, 2007

Innovation for the Ages

If 6th graders can learn to innovate in real time, so can the business world. That is why companies are embracing more productive, systematic methods of innovating and shunning traditional methods.
September 10, 2008

Complementary Innovation

Companies are enamored with chasing "white space opportunities." White space is the nickname for new, undiscovered growth segments. It spins the notion that opportunity lies just ahead of us. Telling colleagues you are working on white space opportunities suggests you are doing really important stuff. It is the ultimate growth endeavor, the risk worth taking. White space will save the day. I'm not so sure. I have two problems with white space. It is neither white, nor a space.
August 24, 2009

The LAB: Innovating Health Care with S.I.T. (August 2009)

Health Care Reform, as the U.S. government sees it, promises lower costs, better access, and improved quality for all. Let's apply a structured innovation method to health care to see if we can achieve some of these goals. For this month's LAB, we will apply Systematic Inventive Thinking to the hospital discharge process.
December 21, 2009

Fixedness

The most challenging aspect about innovating is rooted in a concept called fixedness. Fixedness is the inability to realize that something known to have a particular use may also be used to perform other functions. When one is faced with a new problem, fixedness blocks one’s ability to use old tools in novel ways. Psychologist Karl Duncker coined the term functional fixedness for describing the difficulties in visual perception and problem solving that arise when one element of a whole situation has a (fixed) function which has to be changed for making the correct perception or for finding solutions. In his famous “candle problem” the situation was defined by the objects: a box of candles, a box of thumb-tacks and a book of matches. The task was to fix the candles on the wall without any additional elements. The difficulty of this problem arises from the functional fixedness of the candle box. It is a container in the problem situation but must be used as a shelf in the solution situation.
January 18, 2010

Language and Innovation

Language and innovation are inseparable. Language puts meaning to our ideas, be it spoken, written, or symbolic. We convey ideas to others which is essential in corporate innovation. Innovation would be nearly impossible if we did not have language. If you want to improve your innovation effectiveness, improve your use of language. Structured innovation methods help regulate our thinking and channel the ideation process. At the moment immediately before we innovate, we hold in our minds a pre-inventive form or structure that has yet to be understood. It is at that exact moment we begin to conjure up words and associations to attach to the pre-inventive form. It is this process of linking objective facts and judgments to the pre-inventive form that transforms it to an inventive form - an idea. Here is a step-by-step approach how language is used in innovation:
January 25, 2010

Innovation Sighting: Task Unification with the iPhone

The iPhone is an incredible platform for innovation. As it becomes more popular, it invites even more innovation. Many of the iPhone's functions demonstrate the Task Unification template of the corporate innovation method called S.I.T.. Task Unification is a pattern of that assigns an additional job to an existing resource or component within a product or service. To use Task Unification is practice, we start by listing the components of the product or service. Then we assign non-intuitive tasks to some of the components randomly. The idea is to create weird, ambiguous "virtual products" that don't seem to make any sense. Then we work backwards from this hypothetical "solution" to a possible problem that it addresses. Linking the solution to a problem creates an idea.
January 31, 2010

The LAB: Innovating the iPad with Attribute Dependency (January 2010)

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.
March 22, 2010

The LAB: Innovating a Party with P.I.G. (March 2010)

Here is a new iPhone application that uses the structured innovation method, S.I.T., to create ideas for your next party. The Party Idea Generator, P.I.G., leads you through a series of steps to trigger original party ideas. It has ten different ways to start inventing, and you can add more. It also has over 150 pre-generated triggers and ideas to get you moving. My favorite feature is the special "Huh?" button organizer in case you get stuck. If you want to learn the essence of structured innovation, try this app. It is both fun and useful.
May 24, 2010

The LAB: Innovating Water Access in Developing Countries (May 2010)

Shortage of water may become a more catastrophic problem than food or energy shortage according to experts. The problem affects developing as well as developed countries including the U.S.. For this month's LAB, we will look at how the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., can be used to address such a serious issue. The following ideas were developed by students at the University of Cincinnati working on the PUR water filtration system from Procter & Gamble. They are excellent examples of purpose-driven innovation. You can download the team's complete portfolio here.