The Multiplication Technique: A Simple Tool with Many Creative Surprises Inside

011: The Subtraction Technique: The Creative Power of Taking Elements Away
October 5, 2020
012: The Myth of Post-It Notes and Other Serendipitous Inventions: Why Pure Chance is Not Your Creative Friend
October 12, 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, adding 20 points of market share in just four months. How did they do that?

It’s a simple tool called the Multiplication Technique.

What is the Multiplication Technique?

Multiplication is a technique where you take a component of the system, create a copy of it, and then change that copy in some counterintuitive way. Once you’ve created the configuration, figure out the benefit it delivers. This is a process called “function follows form.” 

Multiplication helps you create configurations that your mind wouldn’t have thought of on its own. It breaks fixedness, which is that cognitive bias that we all have that makes it very hard for us to imagine other configurations.

Applying the Multiplication Technique Step-by-Step

  1. List the product or service components. List them in a numbered list from one to whatever. 
  2. Randomly pick a component.
  3. Make a copy of it. 
  4. Change it in a counterintuitive way. Change it into something that doesn’t seem to make any sense. 
  5. Take the so-called virtual product and ask yourself these two questions:
  • Should you do it? What would be the benefit of it?
  • Can you do it? (Do you have the know-how and the technology to do it?)

To hear more about how you can apply the multiplication technique in your organization, listen to the full podcast episode here: Episode 010: The Multiplication Technique: A Simple Tool with Many Creative Surprises Inside.