Welcome to The LAB. This month, we will focus on Task Unification. This tool is one of five templates in the S.I.T. method of innovation. The tool works by taking a component of a product or service and assigning it an additional task or job.
What I need from one of our readers is: a suggested product or service. I will use this suggestion to apply Task Unification to innovate new embodiments. Please post your suggestion in Comments below. Innovation results will be posted shortly!
The suggestion from one of our readers (thanks, Erez!) is to use Task Unification on a guitar. His comment suggests that players have trouble keeping their guitars in tune when playing in a band. They need to reduce the time it takes to re-tune between songs. I liked this assignment because I play guitar, and I have a small collection of electric guitars, an acoustic guitar, and a banjo. This will be the first time I have applied a systematic innovation process to invent new guitar concepts. Let's see what happens.
As we await the arrival of Amazon's Kindle 2.0, it is a perfect time to begin innovating their next generation device. Anytime is a good time to innovate, but it is especially meaningful to innovate just as you launch your latest innovation. It tells the world you are serious about creating a sustainable pipeline of new growth opportunities.
This month's LAB uses the Task Unification tool of Systematic Inventive Thinking to create new concepts for the Kindle. The definition of Task Unification is: assigning an additional job to an existing resource. The general idea is to break the current product down into components and then sytematically give each component a new task or activity. This creates an abstract "pre-inventive" form that we then take and discover potential benefits, target markets, and adaptations that would make the innovation very useful and unique. This is what I call "Solution-To-Problem" innovation.
This month's LAB uses the Task Unification tool of Systematic Inventive Thinking to create some new concepts for the Kindle. The definition of Task Unification is: assigning an additional job to an existing resource. The general idea is to break the current product down into components and then sytematically give each component some new task or activity. This creates an abstract "pre-inventive" form that we then take and discover potential benefits, target markets, and adaptations that would make the innovation very useful and unique.
Placing advertisements on objects such as billboards and taxis is nothing new. But here is a new twist using task unification. It is one of five templates in the corporate innovation method called S.I.T. Task Unification assigns an additional "job" to an existing resource. Here is an example as reported in USA Today:
Embracing social media and the myriad of Web 2.0 tools is more challenging than just setting up a Facebook account or adding a “Follow Me on Twitter” link. A lot of organizations struggle with how to take advantage of the power of Web 2.0. Where do you start? How do you tie these new tools in with your current website? How do you make sure you keep your current constituents happy while moving the organization to a more networked world?
For this month’s LAB, we will use the innovation template called Task Unification, one of five templates of the corporate innovation method called S.I.T.. To use Task Unification, we take a component of a product, service, system, etc, and we assign an additional job to it. For this exercise involving Social Media, here is how it works. Imagine your company has a large base of employees in the field. For example, suppose your company has a large sales force or an extensive network of delivery or service people. Consider the U.S. Postal Service, for example, with an army of postal workers and letter carriers at over 32,000 post offices. A key question for these organizations like the USPS is: how to get more value out of this fixed asset? Let's use Task Unification.
I start by visiting a site that inventories all the social web tools: GO2WEB20.NET. I randomly pick an application from this list. Then I assign the internal field resources to "use" this application to increase revenue/profits for the company. Using our example of the postal service, I create this statement: "Postal delivery staff have the additional 'job' of using XXXX (web application) to increase USPS performance."
The key is to use the non-obvious applications for creating new, innovative services. Here are examples I created using Task Unification:
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.
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.
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).