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The 1st of 5 Dominant Patterns in Innovation – Subtraction

Up to 70% of successful innovations can be explained by a mere five fundamental underlying patterns.

Scientific research has led to identifying these five patterns and the development of an ideation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking, or SIT. The method has proven to be very valuable to companies around the world and many new products, services and business models have been generated by its users.

In this series of articles we will explain each of the five patterns illustrated with many examples and we will discuss the underlying principles of the method. Applied systematically, the approach will help you generate creative ideas for innovation on-demand.

When thinking about innovation, people generally like to add functionality to a device or complement a business model with extra services. Even though this approach had led to great new products and services, it typically generates only incremental benefits that come at substantial costs. One of the five dominant patterns in innovation is about doing the exact opposite. We call this pattern Subtraction.

The Subtraction technique is all about removing components from a product, a service or a business model. By eliminating something from the existing product configuration, we are creating a new product that could generate value. So we take away a component of the product, but not just any component. Not just a little screw of a machine or a single TV channel in a cable service. No, we remove something essential, something that we have always considered fundamental.

Think about a kitchen stove for a moment. What would be the most essential component of this product? The gas burners, right? Now let’s boldly remove those. That’s what we do when we apply the Subtraction technique.

When we use any of the five SIT-patterns, we always start by creating a list of the essential components of the product. Then we select a component and mentally remove it from the product. What we get is a virtual product, in our case a “gas burner-less kitchen stove”. The next step is to consider the potential benefits that this virtual product could have for our customers, for a specific market segment or in a certain geography. What problems could it potentially solve? If we do find benefits, it means that our virtual product has potential value and we can take it a step further. If we do not find any benefits, we simply move on, select another component […]

By |October 17th, 2016|2016, Blog|0 Comments

The 5 dominant patterns in Innovation

What does the majority of successful innovations have in common? Desirability, uniqueness, functionality? Perhaps. But did you know that these innovations are based on just five distinctive underlying patterns? That’s correct, only a handful of patterns accounts for the largest chunk of innovations that have achieved success in the marketplace.

Does that mean that creative ideas and innovations are predictable? To a certain extent they are.

So, if systematic patterns can be found in up to 70% of successful innovations, why not actively apply those very patterns in the process of idea generation for innovation? That would make perfect sense. Not only does this generate a lot of new and creative ideas, it also implies that the new ideas for products, services or business models that we come up with, ultimately will have a higher likelihood of successful market introduction.

Ground-breaking academic research has led to identifying these five patterns and the development of an ideation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking, or SIT. The method has proven to be very valuable to companies around the world and many new products, services and business models have been generated by its users.

The method is intuitive and counter-intuitive at the same time, it’s easy to use and it generates great results if applied systematically and rigorously. Even on a Monday morning at 8 am. Imagine how that could impact your organization!

In the upcoming articles we will explain each of the five patterns illustrated with many examples and we will discuss the underlying principles of the method. To give you a taste of what’s ahead, here are the five patterns and some real-life examples to help bring them alive.

Subtraction

apple-ipod-touch

Check out this example of the Subtraction pattern here

 

Division

philips-usb

Check out this example of the Division pattern here

 

Multiplication

bodum-espresso-cup

Check out this example of the Multiplication pattern here

 

Task Unification

defender 24/7

Check out this example of the Task Unification pattern here

 

Attribute Dependency

nike-transitions

Check out this example of the Attribute Dependency pattern here

FlyWheel Business is expert on Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). Interested to […]

By |October 10th, 2016|2016, Blog|0 Comments

Creativity Consulting & Systematic Inventive Thinking

Fragment of interview on Creativity and Innovation Consulting with Rotterdam School of Management/Erasmus University (www.rsm.nl) as part of the Innovatio

By |September 29th, 2016|2016, video|0 Comments

Stop trying to always do more in innovation

Whenever you feel the need to add something, do exactly the opposite.

One of the most common approaches to product innovation is to keep on adding functionality: “our newest product now also has this feature, plus it can …”. And-and-and. We all know the examples. But what happens is that by adding features, the product becomes more complex and sometimes even too complex for its users. Besides, consumers often are not aware of the full range of a product’s features and a lot of functionality remains unused. This type of innovation typically offers companies only a small incremental benefit that comes at huge costs.

The proverb “less is more” is generally true, also in innovation. If you feel like you have to do more to prove your point, think again. The answer often is to do less.

Instead of adding new features and components, start thinking about which elements you can remove. Take away something that is considered essential to the product: remove the glass of a bottle, eliminate the voice calling functionality from a phone, take away the screen of an umbrella……. It is not about cutting costs, but finding new benefits and creating new value in the marketplace. Innovation is all about creating new value and ideally a lot of it.

sub

This subtraction principle also generates great new ideas when applying it to business models. Chances are that you have rented a car before. Imagine a traditional car rental company and boldly start eliminating some of the essential elements of the value proposition. Let’s remove the pick-up and drop-off locations, next take away the choice of cars and eliminate the minimum duration of rental. What new benefits can you generate? What new value can you capture? What potential new business model do you get?

Next time you get your team together to come up with new ideas for your products, resist the temptation to add something to the product. Instead, systematically remove essential components and ask yourself the following question over and over again: “what new benefits could potentially be created by eliminating this element?”. You will be surprised by the great number of creative ideas that are generated and that may lead to discovering new opportunities.

 

© Ernst-Jan van Batenburg, FlyWheel Business


Please check out www.flywheelbusiness.com for more information on our innovation & consulting services. […]

By |May 20th, 2015|2015, Blog|0 Comments

Stop listening to the Voice of the Customer in innovation

Do your customers know what they want? Do they have any idea what their needs will be in the future? Can they tell you what it is that they are willing to pay for?

Suppose you have a business manufacturing high-quality leather wallets and you would like to innovate your product. You start by asking your customers how they will be using the wallet in the future and what changes they would like to see. The feedback you get might vary from using a more premium type of leather, to space for more credit cards or a slimmer design. If you would base your innovation only on this, your sales could plunge or you could go out of business entirely.

The problem is that people typically cannot see a wallet having another function than containing cash and cards, nor can they imagine another way of storing cash and cards unless presented with it. That’s just how the human mind works, a condition of cognitive bias or functional fixedness.

How often have you come across a product or a service thinking: “This is so great, if only I could have had this years ago”. Did no one ask for it? Apparently not, or not enough. How many people have asked Apple back in 2006 before the introduction of the iPhone: “Hey, I want an iPhone and I am willing to pay a lot of money for it”?

mic

Let’s move away from listening to the Voice of the Customer as the first step in the innovation process. Instead, we should consider the Voice of the Product. What could the product itself tell us? What virtual products or services could we think of if we would cleverly manipulate the existing situation? And only at this point in the process we check back in with our customers to see if it could be of value to them.

Circling back to the wallet. How about we change the shape of the wallet and turn it into a smartphone cover? Can we find any benefits in doing this? We certainly can. How much cash are people carrying nowadays? What about the trend towards mobile banking and mobile payments? How many credit, debit and loyalty cards will we keep carrying around in our wallet? What will the content of the wallet of the future be: cards or a smartphone? […]

By |March 24th, 2015|2015, Blog|0 Comments

How an industry marries technology and tradition through innovation

The classic watch industry finds itself in a squeeze. On the one hand, we see that it has become less common for younger generations to wear wristwatches, while on the other hand technological newcomers such as Apple Watch and Pebble are winning market share. How does the traditional watch industry that is characterized by tradition and craftsmanship react to these technology-driven trends?

Bearing in mind the sector’s desire to keep honoring the key values of tradition and authenticity, unsurprisingly the answer is slowly but surely.

We are now starting to see promising innovative examples of how this sector is adapting to current trends. Frederique Constant, a Swiss brand of classic timepieces, has just introduced its Horological Smartwatch, a traditional wristwatch with software inside that connects to the smartphone. It offers functionality such as sleep monitoring and activity tracking.

Frederique Constant

Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling has introduced its Exospace B55 Connected model that connects with a smartphone enabling receipt of notifications for email, messages or telephone calls. It can also display the day’s next appointment in hours and minutes. Both the watch and the smartphone app are Swiss made.

breitling

Montblanc, a high-end manufacturer of classic luxury goods, is definitely taking up the challenge of embracing new technological trends. The company’s watch division has recently introduced the e-Strap for its TimeWalker model. The innovative bracelet of this classic Montblanc watch contains wearable technology that connects to the mobile phone and allows you to read previews of email, read text messages and see calendar entries.

montblanc-e-strap

Frederique Constant, Montblanc and Breitling have innovation running through their veins. They dare to look beyond their traditional products and business model while staying true to their core values. They are finding new opportunities and new ways for adding value to their customers.

The sector perfectly understands that there are people that greatly enjoy traditional watches and luxury goods, while at the same time appreciating technological advance. The watch industry is starting to marry technology and tradition through innovation. Will it be a marriage of convenience or will it become a marriage of love? Time will tell.

© Ernst-Jan van Batenburg, FlyWheel Business


Please check out www.flywheelbusiness.com for more information on our innovation & […]

By |March 9th, 2015|2015, Blog|0 Comments