Category Archives: closed world

Innovation Sighting: LG’s New Smart Vacuum Doubles as a Home Security System

LG VacuumThe rush to put new technology in the home is heating up like never before. Challengers include Amazon (Echo), Google (Home), and soon we'll have Apple's Siri device. Microsoft can't be far behind.

Now here's a completely different take on home technology, and it's a perfect example of the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the S.I.T. innovation method. Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it's taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job. The new LG Hom-Bot robotic vacuum does just that. Here's a report from Architectural Digest:

Looking to buy a security system for your home? Consider a vacuum.

LG's newest Hom-Bot robotic vacuum, available this month, merges cleaning and home security into one smartphone-controlled system.

In addition to sweeping up dust and crumbs, the Hom-Bot has front and top-facing cameras that can be accessed through its app at any time. In a true representation of the "smart" vacuum, once it's become accustomed to your home, the Hom-Bot will also automatically snap photos and message them to you if it detects movement in an area of the home or at a time of the day when activity is unusual.

A square-ish rather than rounded shape allows it to edge into tighter corners, and its cameras not only act as a safety measure but also help it more accurately map the room to achieve an efficient cleaning route. Its final feature is a sure appeal to a millennial audience: The vacuum is a rose-hued shade of "metallic gold."

LG's Hom-Bot Turbo+ costs $999 but additional models without cameras retail for $799 and $699.

 To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:

  1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.
  2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:
  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function
  1. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.
  2. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?
  3. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?

Innovation Sighting: LG’s New Smart Vacuum Doubles as a Home Security System

LG VacuumThe rush to put new technology in the home is heating up like never before. Challengers include Amazon (Echo), Google (Home), and soon we'll have Apple's Siri device. Microsoft can't be far behind.

Now here's a completely different take on home technology, and it's a perfect example of the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the S.I.T. innovation method. Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it's taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job. The new LG Hom-Bot robotic vacuum does just that. Here's a report from Architectural Digest:

Looking to buy a security system for your home? Consider a vacuum.

LG's newest Hom-Bot robotic vacuum, available this month, merges cleaning and home security into one smartphone-controlled system.

In addition to sweeping up dust and crumbs, the Hom-Bot has front and top-facing cameras that can be accessed through its app at any time. In a true representation of the "smart" vacuum, once it's become accustomed to your home, the Hom-Bot will also automatically snap photos and message them to you if it detects movement in an area of the home or at a time of the day when activity is unusual.

A square-ish rather than rounded shape allows it to edge into tighter corners, and its cameras not only act as a safety measure but also help it more accurately map the room to achieve an efficient cleaning route. Its final feature is a sure appeal to a millennial audience: The vacuum is a rose-hued shade of "metallic gold."

LG's Hom-Bot Turbo+ costs $999 but additional models without cameras retail for $799 and $699.

 To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:

  1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.
  2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:
  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function
  1. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.
  2. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?
  3. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?

The Subtraction Technique: When Less is More

UntitledTake a look at these four items and tell me – what do they have in common? Here, you see an exercise bicycle, a package of powdered soup, a contact lens, and a child’s high chair, the kind that slips over the edge of the table.

Do you see it? Most people would answer that they're all consumer goods, or that they all provide convenience to the consumer. And while that’s true, that’s not what I’m looking for. Take a look at how they were constructed? Compare them to an early form of the product. Now do you see it?

Each of the items has had something subtracted from an original form of a product. The exercise bike has had the rear wheel removed. The powdered soup has had the water removed. What about the contact lens? It’s had the frame removed. And the child’s highchair has had the legs removed. All four of these products are examples of what can be created using the Subtraction Technique. Let me show you how to use it.

First, we define Subtraction as the elimination of an essential component rather than an addition of new systems and functions. To use the technique, follow the steps of the Function Follows Form principle. First, list the internal components. The internal components are those that are directly on or connected to the product.

Then, apply Subtraction by removing a component. Don't be bashful here – pick something that you think is essential to the product or service. Next, you visualize the resulting virtual product. Remember that the virtual product is an abstract configuration at this point and it may seem rather odd, and even absurd.

At this next stage, you ask yourself two questions, and you do it in this specific order. First question is, should we do it? Does this new configuration create any advantage or solve some problem? Is there a target audience who would find this beneficial? Does it deliver an unmet need?

If you identify some benefit, then you ask yourself the second question: Can we do it? Do we have the technical know-how to make this concept? Is it feasible? Do we have the intellectual property. Are there regulatory or legal barriers?

Once you complete this first round, the Subtraction Technique allows you to replace the function of the missing component. We first try to replace it with something from the Closed World, something in the immediate vicinity of the where the consumer uses the product. If not, we think of how we could import some technology or other component from outside the closed world.

Subtraction is a powerful technique because it breaks fixedness and forces you to mentally imagine all the remaining components delivering some new benefit.

Launching Innovations: The Do’s and Don’ts

Do-dontAt some point as an innovation leader, you and your team will launch new innovations into the market place. Those could be new products and services, it could be a new advertising campaign, or simply displaying your products at a trade show. These initiatives are an important test of your leadership. So here are my tips - the DO’s and DON’Ts for launching new initiatives.

First, lead through people. That means delegating to your team rather than trying to take on these projects yourself. Your first priority is to create a team of A players. So now is the time to use them. Thoroughbreds like to run and run fast, so put them to work on these initiatives. If you’re thinking that “it’s easier to do it myself than to explain how to do it,” forget it. When you assign a new initiative to a person, tell them what you need done and what success looks like. Let them figure it out from there.

Next, be visible during the launch of any new initiative. There’re lot of reasons for that. First, it motivates your people when they see you care enough to be part of their event. Second, it never hurts to have another pair of hands in case a team member needs help. As a marketing leader, don’t put yourself above the team when it comes to the dirty work. Hey, a good leader needs to pick up the broom and sweep the floor just like everyone else.

Finally, hold people accountable for the outcome. It’s critical that you give people constraints up front so they know the boundaries of what they can and can’t do. Measure those results and reward people for what they achieve. If they exceed the boundaries you set for them, you gotta point it out to them.

Now, let’s look at the don'ts.

First, whatever you do, don’t micromanage your people. Details are important in any initiative, but if you get in the habit of pointing out every last detail of a project, you’re telling your team that you don’t trust them. That will eventually undermine your leadership.

Next, never upstage your team members responsible for the event when the initiative is launched. If they do all the work but it’s you that gets in front of the camera to take all the credit, your team won’t ever be loyal to you again. Now it’s okay to manage up a bit and keep your bosses informed about the initiative, but just be sure to give credit to your team for their hard work. And by the way, when you give credit to others instead of taking it all yourself, your bosses look at you as someone who’s going to move up the ladder.

Finally, avoid playing the blame game. If the initiative doesn’t go well, take responsibility. Don’t start naming others on your team as the guilty party. You want to give that team member feedback about what could have been improved. But publicly blaming them for the failure is a mistake. As the leader, stand up and take full responsibility. But then go back and understand what went wrong. What were your assumptions? What unexpected things happened that hurt the initiative? And most importantly, what are you going to do about it next time?

And that’s what great innovation leaders do. They create a competent team that continuously learns, and gets better every day.

 

Innovation Sighting: Task Unification and the Oombrella

I love umbrellas and the many versions that demonstrate the five patterns of Systematic Inventive Thinking. Here's a new one that demonstrates the Task Unification pattern. Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it's taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job.

Oombrella is a beautiful smart connected umbrella that alerts you before it rains and sends you a notification if you leave it behind. From their website:

What makes oombrella unique is its notification services that alert you before it rains and if you leave your umbrella behind. ombrella's hyper-local weather data and tracking keep you informed and notified. Yet oombrella is an umbrella. It means that it protects you against the rain, and its ribs make it really wind-resistant.

As an umbrella, it can be adapted to you. This means you can pick the color, go for the Shiny edition, a very elegant White Edition or choose the revisited yet classic Black edition. In terms of size, you can choose too! Go for a classic size or one that fits in your bag.

The good part of oombrella is that you can also track all your activity and see the weather you experienced during your trip. How? Thanks to the sensors that are integrated into the handle: temperature, pressure, humidity and light. We use all this data to create the notifications "Take me with you. It will rain in 15 minutes"

 

To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:

1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.

2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:

  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function

3. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.

4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?

5. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?

Innovation Sighting: The Task Unification Technique for Young and Old

The Task Unification Technique is great because it generates novel ideas that tend to be novel and resourceful. It's one of five techniques in the SIT Innovation Method.

Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it's taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job.

Here are two great examples, one about a very young person and the other about a new and nifty device for old people. I love both of them:

To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:

1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.

2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:

  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function

3. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.

4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?

5. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?

 

Thinking Creatively: How Deadlines Encourage Inside-the-Box Ideas

DeadlineTaylor Mallory Holland at Content Standard wrote this insightful article how tight deadlines can have both a positive and a negative affect on creativity.

From her article:

Dr. Richard Boyatzis, a professor of organizational behavior, psychology and cognitive science, explained his team’s findings to The Wall Street Journal:

The research shows us that the more stressful a deadline is, the less open you are to other ways of approaching the problem. The very moments when in organizations we want people to think outside the box, they can’t even see the box.

Taylor offers the following advice on how find the right balance:

Ditching deadlines isn’t the answer, nor is sacrificing quality for the sake of speed. But how do we find a happy medium?

For leaders in creative fields, the lesson here is to set flexible deadlines whenever possible—to leave some wiggle room in case good ideas take longer than planned. Consider breaking large projects into smaller tasks with their own deadlines. This not only prevents last-minute stress and overwhelm for workers; it also gives you good opportunities to check in and to offer support and feedback.

As Laura Vanderkam points out in her Fast Company article, it also helps to know your team members and set expectations for individuals. She says that while some people are good at meeting deadlines, “Others need more hand-holding and frequent check-ins. They’re not bad people, they’re just different people. Good management means getting to know the people you’re working with, and using deadlines as one tool in your kit for getting good work out of them in a timely fashion.”

While an understanding and flexible boss is certainly an asset for creative workers, individuals must also take responsibility for getting the job done—for thinking as creatively and as quickly as possible. This requires commitment and proper planning so we can give ourselves the time we need, rather than rushing at the last minute and stressing ourselves to the point of writer’s block. It also means learning how to get in the “creative thinking” zone when we need to be productive, not just when the moment strikes.

For scientifically-proven ways to be innovative and efficient, read “7 Productivity Tips to Boost Creativity on a Deadline.”