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 […]
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.