Innovation in Practice Blog

October 27, 2020

Learning the Powerful, Yet Abstract Method of Attribute Dependency

Attribute Dependency is one of the five techniques of the SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking) method.  Just to give you an idea, think of your home thermostat […]
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 […]
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.