Category Archives: creativity method

Innovation Leadership: Managing Your Resources

BudgetAs an innovation leader, you are now responsible for a bundle of resources that you’ll need to get the job done. Those resources include human resources - your team - and also include financial resources in the form of a budget.

But a good leader thinks about resources beyond just human and financial. You may have tangible resources like physical products and distribution outlets. You may have intangible resources like brand reputations. And you have resources in the form of relationships. You have internal relationships like with your peers, and you have plenty of external relationships, with your customers, your suppliers, and your marketing services firms.

So, start your new role by taking a careful inventory of your resources and commit to being a responsible steward of them. Ask yourself, what exactly do I have on hand? What condition are they in? Do I have the right resources and enough to accomplish my goals?

Now, you may not be able to answer those questions right away, but you have to keep them in mind now so you don’t lose sight of them later. Let’s explore some issues you may face when managing your marketing resources.

In terms of human resources, you need to build a competent team. So keep these guiding principles in mind. Ask yourself, who are my A players, who are my B players that can developed into A players, and who are my C players that need to be moved off the team...as soon as possible? You’ll want to work closely with your HR partner, beginning Day One.

Now look at financial resources. You probably got some direction from your boss, but now it’s time to dig a little deeper. Meet with your financial partners and learn as much as you can about your budget. What is the process to set the budget? What is the process to spend it? How is it allocated? What have been the trends in spending? What areas of spending are getting the most bang for the buck?

Now, take a close look at your products and services. How are old are they, and when were they last updated? How do they perform, feature by feature, versus the competition? What needs to be improved? And, which ones may need to be retired to free up resources for new opportunities?

How do you sell your products and services? Examine your channels of distribution. What assets are there like warehouses and distribution centers? What channel partners do you have, and what role do they play? Most importantly, what information about your customers is being collected and who has it? How is that information being used?

Finally, what is your brand equity? Are customers loyal? What is your rate of retention? How satisfied are your customers?

This resource - your base of customers - may be your most important. You need to understand what gives you the right to win in the marketplace. THAT is your golden egg as we call it, and you want to take very good care of it.

 

Learn more about Leading a Marketing Team.

Are You an Innovator? Take the Quiz

InnovatorPlace a check mark beside the statement you agree with most.

1.     A. Innovation occurs by adding features to a product.
        B. Innovation occurs by taking features out of a product.

2.     A. Innovation is finding problems that are solved by hypothetical solutions.
        B. Innovation is finding solutions to difficult problems.

3.     A. I am more likely to innovate when I work alone.
        B. I am more likely to innovate when I work in a group.

4.     A. Innovation is more about creating novel ideas.
        B. Innovation is more about selecting the best ideas.

5.     A. When I innovate, I "brainstorm" ideas out of my head.
        B. When I innovate, I apply patterns to find ideas.

6.     A. Innovating is predictable and not risky.
        B. Innovating is unpredictable and risky.

7.     A. The ability to innovate is a gift that you are born with.
        B. The ability to innovate is a skill that you can learn.

8.     A. I prefer ambiguity when pondering new ideas.
        B. I prefer clarity when pondering new ideas.

9.     A. The Post-It Note is a good example of innovation because it was spontaneous.
        B. The Post-It Note is a bad example of innovation because it was spontaneous.

10.     A. I feel responsible for innovating new ideas.
          B. I feel others are responsible for innovating new ideas.

11.     A. Innovating is a random, improvisational, back-and-forth experience.
          B. Innovating is a systematic, linear experience.

12.     A. Constraints on resources like time and money drive innovation.
          B. Constraints on resources like time and money inhibit innovation.

13.     A. Homogeneous groups are more likely to innovate.
          B. Diverse groups are more likely to innovate.

14.     A. Innovation can be scheduled. It can occur anytime I want.
          B. Innovation cannot be scheduled. It occurs randomly.

15.     A. Innovation is an unstructured process.
          B. Innovation is a patterned, "templated" process.

Scoring:

For odd numbered questions, give yourself one point for each “B” statement.

For even numbered questions, give yourself one point for each “A” statement.

How do you rate? Here is a general guideline:

  • 11 to 15 points: Consider yourself an innovator.
  • 6 to 10 points: Innovating is a mixed bag for you, but you may be headed in the right direction.
  • 0 to 5 points: Innovation is a mystery to you. Consider formal training.

10 Valentine’s Day Surprises Created With S.I.T.

Valentines-dayToday is Valentine's Day, and to celebrate, here are ten creative ways to show how much you love your partner. I generated some of these for a TV interview yesterday on FOX19-WXIX morning news is Cincinnati. They wanted me to share how to use S.I.T. to be more creative on this special day. So here is my extended list:

1. Flowers are very common on Valentine's Day, with the most common gift being a dozen long-stem red roses. So to be more creative, apply the Division Technique. Divide the 12 roses into single versions, each in their own vase. Place them throughout your home. That way, you get twelve little surprises instead of one big one.  

2. Building on the first idea, place eleven of the roses throughout your home, but hide or hold on to the 12th rose (the Subtraction Technique). When your partner realizes there are only eleven, he or she will wonder where the 12th rose is. That's the time to place it somewhere strategically (hint: pillow) or give it to your partner directly. Nice touch!

3. I love the Task Unification Technique for challenges like this. I like to pick a component in the home randomly and force it to take on an additional job. These ideas that leverage a resource in the immediate environment (Closed World) tend to create surprising, forehead-slapping ideas that make you utter, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" For example, take the garage door. Imagine taking your traditional Valentine's Day card and taping it to the bottom of the garage door so that when she opens it, the card will dangle invitingly from the bottom. Clever!

4. Here's another example of Task Unification. Take shaving cream and draw a big heart with the words, "I love you" somewhere fun like the inside of your shower (make sure it's on the inside or you'll be in big trouble.)

5. Food is another way to inspire love. Instead of making a plain old salad, try taking tomato and mozzarella cheese slices and make a heart shape on the plate. Easy, cheap, and one of those little touches your partner will appreciate.

6. I found this idea on the Internet, but I love it anyway because it demonstrates the Multiplication Technique so well. Take a bunch of different size envelopes or perhaps boxes and place them inside one another (like Russian nested figures). In the last one, place your favorite love poem. Maybe corny, but it works!

7. We have a computer in our kitchen, and I love to use the screensaver function to surprise my wife with fun and loving things (especially if I'm in trouble from something!!). Try this by placing a big heart shape on the screen, perhaps with an image of the two of you together (wedding photo?). It's a winner every time.

8. Building on that idea, change her screensaver or background photo on her smartphone to show an old, nostalgic photo of the two of you. (Be sure you have a way to get her previous image on there, though, or you'll have a problem).

9. Attribute Dependency is a great pattern seen in the majority of innovative products and services. As one thing changes, another thing changes. Here's how to use it. Create a special smartphone playlist of all love songs. Put it in her library (when she's not looking). Show it to her after she gets out of the shower where you placed the big shaving cream heart shape. Play it for her. You're gonna have a good day!

10. Perhaps because I use dry erase markers so often in my work (teaching, speaking, facilitating), that I just love them. You can use them to write on lots of surfaces, and they can be erased just like on a white board. So take a (red) marker, and place loving messages all around the house on glass surfaces - bathroom mirrors, microwave winder, car window - you get the idea.

Have fun and enjoy the day!

10 Valentine’s Day Surprises Created With S.I.T.

Valentines-dayToday is Valentine's Day, and to celebrate, here are ten creative ways to show how much you love your partner. I generated some of these for a TV interview yesterday on FOX19-WXIX morning news is Cincinnati. They wanted me to share how to use S.I.T. to be more creative on this special day. So here is my extended list:

1. Flowers are very common on Valentine's Day, with the most common gift being a dozen long-stem red roses. So to be more creative, apply the Division Technique. Divide the 12 roses into single versions, each in their own vase. Place them throughout your home. That way, you get twelve little surprises instead of one big one.  

2. Building on the first idea, place eleven of the roses throughout your home, but hide or hold on to the 12th rose (the Subtraction Technique). When your partner realizes there are only eleven, he or she will wonder where the 12th rose is. That's the time to place it somewhere strategically (hint: pillow) or give it to your partner directly. Nice touch!

3. I love the Task Unification Technique for challenges like this. I like to pick a component in the home randomly and force it to take on an additional job. These ideas that leverage a resource in the immediate environment (Closed World) tend to create surprising, forehead-slapping ideas that make you utter, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" For example, take the garage door. Imagine taking your traditional Valentine's Day card and taping it to the bottom of the garage door so that when she opens it, the card will dangle invitingly from the bottom. Clever!

4. Here's another example of Task Unification. Take shaving cream and draw a big heart with the words, "I love you" somewhere fun like the inside of your shower (make sure it's on the inside or you'll be in big trouble.)

5. Food is another way to inspire love. Instead of making a plain old salad, try taking tomato and mozzarella cheese slices and make a heart shape on the plate. Easy, cheap, and one of those little touches your partner will appreciate.

6. I found this idea on the Internet, but I love it anyway because it demonstrates the Multiplication Technique so well. Take a bunch of different size envelopes or perhaps boxes and place them inside one another (like Russian nested figures). In the last one, place your favorite love poem. Maybe corny, but it works!

7. We have a computer in our kitchen, and I love to use the screensaver function to surprise my wife with fun and loving things (especially if I'm in trouble from something!!). Try this by placing a big heart shape on the screen, perhaps with an image of the two of you together (wedding photo?). It's a winner every time.

8. Building on that idea, change her screensaver or background photo on her smartphone to show an old, nostalgic photo of the two of you. (Be sure you have a way to get her previous image on there, though, or you'll have a problem).

9. Attribute Dependency is a great pattern seen in the majority of innovative products and services. As one thing changes, another thing changes. Here's how to use it. Create a special smartphone playlist of all love songs. Put it in her library (when she's not looking). Show it to her after she gets out of the shower where you placed the big shaving cream heart shape. Play it for her. You're gonna have a good day!

10. Perhaps because I use dry erase markers so often in my work (teaching, speaking, facilitating), that I just love them. You can use them to write on lots of surfaces, and they can be erased just like on a white board. So take a (red) marker, and place loving messages all around the house on glass surfaces - bathroom mirrors, microwave winder, car window - you get the idea.

Have fun and enjoy the day!

10 Valentine’s Day Surprises Created With S.I.T.

Valentines-dayToday is Valentine's Day, and to celebrate, here are ten creative ways to show how much you love your partner. I generated some of these for a TV interview yesterday on FOX19-WXIX morning news is Cincinnati. They wanted me to share how to use S.I.T. to be more creative on this special day. So here is my extended list:

1. Flowers are very common on Valentine's Day, with the most common gift being a dozen long-stem red roses. So to be more creative, apply the Division Technique. Divide the 12 roses into single versions, each in their own vase. Place them throughout your home. That way, you get twelve little surprises instead of one big one.  

2. Building on the first idea, place eleven of the roses throughout your home, but hide or hold on to the 12th rose (the Subtraction Technique). When your partner realizes there are only eleven, he or she will wonder where the 12th rose is. That's the time to place it somewhere strategically (hint: pillow) or give it to your partner directly. Nice touch!

3. I love the Task Unification Technique for challenges like this. I like to pick a component in the home randomly and force it to take on an additional job. These ideas that leverage a resource in the immediate environment (Closed World) tend to create surprising, forehead-slapping ideas that make you utter, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" For example, take the garage door. Imagine taking your traditional Valentine's Day card and taping it to the bottom of the garage door so that when she opens it, the card will dangle invitingly from the bottom. Clever!

4. Here's another example of Task Unification. Take shaving cream and draw a big heart with the words, "I love you" somewhere fun like the inside of your shower (make sure it's on the inside or you'll be in big trouble.)

5. Food is another way to inspire love. Instead of making a plain old salad, try taking tomato and mozzarella cheese slices and make a heart shape on the plate. Easy, cheap, and one of those little touches your partner will appreciate.

6. I found this idea on the Internet, but I love it anyway because it demonstrates the Multiplication Technique so well. Take a bunch of different size envelopes or perhaps boxes and place them inside one another (like Russian nested figures). In the last one, place your favorite love poem. Maybe corny, but it works!

7. We have a computer in our kitchen, and I love to use the screensaver function to surprise my wife with fun and loving things (especially if I'm in trouble from something!!). Try this by placing a big heart shape on the screen, perhaps with an image of the two of you together (wedding photo?). It's a winner every time.

8. Building on that idea, change her screensaver or background photo on her smartphone to show an old, nostalgic photo of the two of you. (Be sure you have a way to get her previous image on there, though, or you'll have a problem).

9. Attribute Dependency is a great pattern seen in the majority of innovative products and services. As one thing changes, another thing changes. Here's how to use it. Create a special smartphone playlist of all love songs. Put it in her library (when she's not looking). Show it to her after she gets out of the shower where you placed the big shaving cream heart shape. Play it for her. You're gonna have a good day!

10. Perhaps because I use dry erase markers so often in my work (teaching, speaking, facilitating), that I just love them. You can use them to write on lots of surfaces, and they can be erased just like on a white board. So take a (red) marker, and place loving messages all around the house on glass surfaces - bathroom mirrors, microwave winder, car window - you get the idea.

Have fun and enjoy the day!

The Three Faces of Attribute Dependency

Mixing bowlsWhen using the Attribute Dependency technique, you’ll reach a point in the function follows form process where it’s time to make adaptations to your concept. That’s where you try to improve the concept and put more definition around it.

One way to make adaptations with Attribute Dependency is to change the type of dependency. There are three ways to do it: passive, active and automatic. Think of these as what has to happen within the product or service for the dependency to take place. Let’s look at each type.

Passive dependencies, just as the name implies, are passive. Nothing has to happen for the dependency to take place. There doesn't need to be an intervening element to cause the dependency.

Look around and you will see that many products and services are examples of passive dependency. Here is a simple example of mixing bowls that come in different sizes.

Now you may ask, “Is this really an example of the attribute dependency pattern?” It certainly is. As one thing changes another thing changes. In this case, as the needs of the user change, the size of the bowl changes. It’s a passive dependency, though, because the bowls simply exist in various sizes and shapes. In fact, any product that comes in different sizes such as clothing, hardware items, even homes are examples of passive attribute dependency.

But some dependencies require an active, intervening element to cause them to occur. A very simple example is Happy Hour, when the price of drinks in a bar is reduced. But for this to happen, somebody has to do something. That active element, of course, is the bartender. At the appointed happy hour, let's say 5 o'clock, the bartender simply lowers the price of the drinks presumably for an hour. Then again at 6 o'clock, the bartender raises those prices back to their normal level. Because of the active intervention, we call this an active dependency.

TransitionAnd finally, we have automatic dependencies. These are unique because they happen, as the name implies, automatically. The product or service is designed so that as one thing changes, the product automatically changes by itself without some intervening third-party element to make that change.

Transition sunglasses are one of the best examples of an automatic dependency. As the brightness of the light changes, the lens automatically darkens in response to that change.

Products that have this type of dependency seem almost smart. They know when it's appropriate to change in response to some other variable, either an internal or external. The consumer doesn't have to do anything because the product does it all by itself.

How do you know which type of dependency to use? It depends on a lot of factors such as how much convenience you want to deliver to the customer. Is it technically feasible to create a particular dependency? For example, your engineers might be able to make a mixing bowl that automatically expands as you put more things in it. But that also adds a lot of cost and complexity. It’s probably a lot easier for the customer just to grab the right size bowl to make a cake.

It also depends on how much control you may need in a situation. Do you want the customer or another person making the change? Look back at the happy hour example. You could create a cash register that automatically adjusts the price of drinks based on the time of day. The bartender wouldn’t have to think about. You would have complete control over the prices throughout the day.

Passive, active, and automatic. That’s three ways to give your customers very cool products with the Attribute Dependency technique.

Master the Method: Innovation Suite #18

I invite you to join the upcoming Innovation Suite  in San Francisco, November 16-18, 2015.

Innovation Suite brings together executives from around the world to share their business innovation experiences and to learn how to embed a culture of innovation within their teams and organizations.

This time around, the event will have two specialized tracks: one for Innovation Users, and another for Innovation Architects. In the Innovation User track, participants will learn how to develop an innovative mindset and learn practical tools for approaching routine work differently.

In the Innovation Architect track, participants will learn how to set up the right structure, gather the right people, and develop the right processes and mechanisms in order to embed innovation in their team, department or whole organization.

Register before August 20 to receive a 10% discount Please contact SIT LLC with any questions.

 

Innovation_suite_internal4.0

INNOVATE! – The App That Facilitates S.I.T.

App1The Innovate! Inside the Box app for iPad facilitates the use of Systematic Inventive Thinking. It explains each of the five techniques and allows users to generate creative ideas and innovations on demand.

To Use the App:
Go to How to Use the App on the Homepage to read about Systematic Inventive Thinking.

You can review how each technique works by going to Learn a Technique.

Then, go to My Innospace and look at the sample project, Refrigerator, under Current Projects. Review the Ideas List for examples of ideas generated with each technique.
You may recognize some of these from this course.

App4Go to New Innospace and create a new project. Enter the Name of product or service you want to innovate. Enter a Description of the project and hit Enter.

Next, enter the Components and Attributes of the product or service.

Select one of the five techniques to apply to the new project. You can select a technique, or select the “I’m Feeling Lucky” option.

Then step through the two buttons shown here to read each of the Virtual Products that the app creates. Use Function Follows Form to identify potential innovations. Capture new ideas discovered.

App7Enter a name of the idea. Enter a description of the idea. List the benefits. Add notes if needed, then hit Done

You can share your ideas via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to backup your projects by going to the More link.

The innovate app is a great way to help you stay organized when you’re applying Systematic Inventive Thinking.

The Creative Versatility of the Task Unification Technique

It's hard for me not to play favorites when it comes to the five creativity techniques of the SIT method. After all, they're just like children - each is unique with their own potential and personality. But when it comes to versatility, the one that may do it the best is Task Unification. It tends to produce ideas that are both clever and resourceful, often harnessing resources in the immediate vicinity of the problem in a unique. These ideas tend to make you slap your forehead and say, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?"

Task Unification is defined as "assigning an additional job to an existing resource." That resource could a component within the product or service, or something else nearby. Here are three very different examples, but each one clearly exhibits the Task Unification pattern.

The Aivvy Q is a pair of headphones that keeps your music within the unit itself. There's no need to plug into an external player or smartphone. Here's how it works:

The next is called Nerdalize. It works by taking heat from computer servers and using it to heat homes. Take a look at this short video.

And finally, here is Bioconcrete. It uses bacteria to heal itself in case it cracks. If that happens, the bacteria  germinate, multiply and feed on the lactate, and in doing so they combine the calcium with carbonate ions to form calcite, or limestone, which closes up the cracks. Take a look:

Now THAT is versatile!

Learn all five techniques at Lynda.com.