The Attribute Dependency Technique tends to produce innovations that are smart. They seemingly know when to adjust or change in response to a change in something else. It is one of five techniques of the SIT innovation method, and it accounts for a majority of new product innovations. Attribute Dependency differs from the other techniques in that it uses attributes (variables) of the situation rather than components. Start with an attribute list, then construct a matrix of these, pairing each against the others. Each cell represents a potential dependency (or potential break in an existing dependency) that forms a Virtual Product. Using Function Follows Form, we work backwards and envision a potential benefit or problem that this hypothetical solution solves.
One way to develop your expertise in SIT techniques is with pattern spotting. A key premise of SIT is that for thousands of years, innovators have used patterns in their inventions, usually without even realizing it. Those patterns are now embedded into the products and services you see around you, almost like the DNA of a product. You want to develop your ability to see these patterns as a way to improve your use of them.
There's probably no better place to practice pattern spotting than at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). In last week's CES in Las Vegas, "manufacturers demonstrated a range of previously mundane but now smart, web-connected products destined to become part of daily domestic existence, from kitchen appliances to baby monitors to sports equipment," as reported in The Independent.
One way to make adaptations with Attribute Dependency is to change the type of dependency. There are three ways to do it: passive, active and automatic. Think of these as what has to happen within the product or service for the dependency to take place. Let’s look at each type.