The Multiplication tool is one of the five powerful thinking tools taught to me by the folks at Systematic Inventive Thinking. I like this tool because it is simple and yields great results. Even children can learn it.
Multiplication works by taking a component of the product, service, strategy, etc, and then making one or several copies of it. But the copy must be changed in some way from the original component. The original component is still intact, unchanged. Now using Function Follows Form, we work backwards to take this hypothetical solution and find a problem that it solves.
One of our blog readers, Jim Doherty of the Grabbit Tool Company, agreed to let me use their main product, the EZ Grabbit Tarp Holder, for this month’s LAB. I bought a set at Ace Hardware last night, and used the Multiplication tool just now to create some new product ideas. Here is a demonstration of the EZ Grabbit:
We start Multiplication by making a list of the components:
Make a copy or several copies of each component, one at a time, and change something about it. What would be the benefit or potential use of the product with this new, changed component? Here are some ideas:
Once we have raw ideas like these, it’s a good idea to get early customer feedback and perhaps build some working prototypes to let customers envision using the new product. The ideas above are incremental innovations to the product’s original category, so it can be valuable to get customer feedback about potential uses of the new embodiments outside the category to find breakthrough ideas as well.