When you use Subtraction, you don’t always have to eliminate the component. There is also what we call “Partial Subtraction.” It is a valid technique as long as the product or service that remains delivers a new benefit. To deploy Partial Subtraction, you pick a component and then eliminate a specific feature of that component. Consider the case of Twitter, a microblogging application used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. By simply restricting each tweet to 140 characters, Twitter has become a vast digital conversation about what individuals around the globe are thinking and doing. A Partial Subtraction of the traditional blog down to 140 characters dramatically increased the volume of and participation in this Internet phenomenon. How did it happen?
In the 1950s, General Mills launched a line of cake mixes under the famous Betty Crocker brand. The cake mixes included all the dry ingredients in the package, plus milk and eggs in powdered form. All you needed was to add water, mix it all together, and stick the pan in the oven. For busy homemakers, it saved time and effort, and the recipe was virtually error free. General Mills had a sure winner on its hands.
Or so it thought. Despite the many benefits of the new product, it did not sell well. Even the iconic and trusted Betty Crocker brand could not convince homemakers to adopt the new product.
The only thing worse than having too many emails is getting very long ones. When I open an email and see a long-winded message followed by a chain of other emails that have to be read as well, I dread it. After all, brevity is a virtue, and I value those emails that are short and efficient.
Now there's a new app that helps manage the problem, and it is a great example of the Subtraction Technique, one of five in the innovation method, Systematic Inventive Thinking. It's called "MailTime." MailTime re-formats and summarizes your mails into a messaging conversation view. It redesigns the way you assign tasks helps you to track information easier.