Innovation in Practice Blog

January 26, 2021

What’s In a Name?

Naming objects is very useful. We name things all the time because it makes things efficient. It helps us understand our world and it’s how we […]
January 19, 2021

Mastering Creative Thinking: Two Techniques to Make Creative Thinking Stick

Becoming even just a little bit more creative will enhance what you do every day – whether at work, at home, or just about anywhere.  But […]
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 […]
June 20, 2008

M&A Innovation

Relying on mergers and acquisitions for growth sends a signal that you don't know how to innovate or how to manage it. M&A has other problems, too. Companies tend to overpay which actually destroys shareholder value. At best, firms end up paying full value, neither better or worse off financially. The firm grows in size, not value, and pays in the form of distraction. What if you could use the tools and processes of innovation in mergers and acquisitions? How could it help? Would you select acquisition targets better? Could it help understand the valuation better so you get a better deal? Might it help you implement better? I believe innovation techniques could be applied to all three. Here is one example: targeting - deciding who to buy.
October 31, 2008

The LAB: Innovating a Recruiting Process with Subtraction (October 2008)

Do systematic methods of innovation work on services and processes? This may be the most common question from corporate executives who want to learn innovation methods. This month's LAB will focus on a familiar corporate process: employee recruiting. The tool we'll use is Subtraction. To use Subtraction, we make a list of the components. With a process or service, the components are simply the steps to deliver the process or service. We remove a step one at a time to create the Virtual Product/Process. Working backwards with Function Follows Form, we innovate what the potential value or benefits would be without the component. What would the new process do? Who would use it? Why would they use it?
February 15, 2010

Innovation Sighting: Subtraction on CPG Products

Here are two CPG products from this week's Best New Product Awards. I tried them at home and noticed a pattern. That pattern suggests a different way to use the Subtraction Template of the innovation method, S.I.T.. The question is whether that pattern can be replicated on other products to create line extensions and new categories. The first product is the Bounce® Dryer Bar from Procter & Gamble. The second is the Scrubbing Bubbles® Toilet Cleaning Gel from SC Johnson. See if you can spot the pattern in each:
April 26, 2010

The LAB: Innovating the Wedding Invitation with S.I.T. (April 2010)

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.
May 3, 2010

Innovation Sighting: Double Down – Two Innovation Templates in One Bite

Here is an example of two innovation templates in one product. The Double Down sandwich from KFC removes the traditional bread slice (demonstrating the template, Subtraction), and it assigns the additional job of "sandwiching" to the two slices of fried chicken (demonstrating the template, Task Unification).
July 31, 2010

The LAB: Innovating a Service Delivery Model with S.I.T. (July 2010)

A common question about structured innovation is can it be used on services. The answer is yes. A service is the same as a product in many ways, and the approach to using an innovation method like S.I.T. is the same. Let's consider a service example for this month's LAB. Imagine your company was a leading uniform and apparel rental service. You own a fleet of trucks and drivers as well as uniform design and fitting services. Your company delivers custom fitted uniforms to the client's location, picks up worn uniforms for cleaning, inspection, and repair, and returns them on schedule. In this highly competitive industry, the key to survival is to exceed customer expectations. The key to growth, on the other hand, is innovation. Let's use the Subtraction tool on this service to create new opportunities.
May 2, 2011

Feature Creep

Companies that struggle with innovation often make up for it by adding features to existing products. They succumb to "feature creep" - the gradual and continuous addition of features and functions though nothing is truly new. While it may look improved, the added features make your product more complex, difficult to use, and more costly to produce. Over time, your core customers abandon you. Here is an example - the Numi toilet by Kohler. At $6400, it is promoted as the top-of-the-line toilet with lots of high-tech bells and whistles:
September 5, 2011

Innovation: Make It Someone Else’s Problem

New research suggests that you are more likely to be creative when you imagine the problem is someone else's instead of your own. Evan Polman and Kyle Emich describe their studies in their April 2011 article that support this conclusion. In one study, 262 participants were instructed to draw an alien for a story that they would write, or alternatively for a story that someone else would write. As expected, drawing an alien for someone else produced a more creative alien. In another study, 137 students were instructed to picture either themselves or a stranger stuck in a tower and to think of a way to escape using only a rope that did not reach the ground. Of the students who imagined a stranger in the tower, 66 percent found the solution—divide the rope lengthwise and tie the pieces together—compared with 48 percent of those who pictured themselves in the tower.
July 23, 2012

Marketing Innovation: The Subtraction Tool in Brand Development

Perhaps harder than branding is re-branding. Once the market associates your brand with a specific promise, it is difficult to get people to shift over to a newer or more updated meaning. This is especially true for brands that have been around a long time. Take the brand of Canada, for example. It adopted the instantly-recognizable Maple Leaf as its national flag in 1965 over contending choices such the one shown here. Now Canada is re-positioning the brand to update its global image. The new campaign, "Know Canada," makes clever use of the S.I.T. advertising tool called Subtraction. The tool is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them.
May 20, 2013

Marketing Innovation: The Subtraction Tool in Saint Gobain Commercials

The Subtraction tool works by removing elements generally considered essential to the situation. The tool can be used in any marketing communications medium (television, print, and so on). The tool works by drwawing your attention to the missing component. As a result, the ad is more memorable. Subtraction is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them.