Monday, November 21, 2016

Innovation Inside the Box: A Systematic Approach to Link Innovation and Marketing Strategy

Innovation Inside the Box: A Systematic Approach to Link Innovation and Marketing Strategy
By Drew Boyd, Executive Director of the Master of Science in Marketing, University of Cincinnati 

Back End of Innovation Conference Keynote: 2016
The thesis of this talk is that Creativity is a skill, not a gift. This practical advice starts with a promise from Boyd: “I’m going to teach you how to use your brain to innovate anyway you want.”
He then discussed the origin story of the “think outside of the box” mythology. When you send people outside of the box, the mind suffers anxiety. The mind works better inside the box, he says, with constraints.
He then quoted Beatle Paul about “templates” for songwriting. All artist use patterns, he claims. But the artists don’t want you to see the patterns. Patterns boost the creative output. “Innovators and inventors use patterns, too, and they are embedded in the products and services you see everyday.”
The method is Systematic Inventive Thinking—and there are only five patterns. “Innovation follow as set of patterns: Subtractions, task unification, multiplication, division, attribute dependency.” 
Using these patterns you can move from solution to problem, rather than problem to solution.
To use this method, start with an existing situation, and then apply one of the five patterns from above. This thinking tool will yield a virtual product, then vets if it is desired and feasible. At this stage, an idea is born.
Let’s we examine the Subtraction technique. Here’s the method: remove a component, then visualize the new prototype, identify user needs, and then adapt as needed based on the factors of “the closed world.” Taking each piece out and thinking about the possibilities opens up new paths of innovation.
This method forces you to create combinations that you wouldn’t create on your own.
Task Unification is the next method we explored. Here you assign an additional task to a component and walk through the remaining steps of can we and should we do it.
We used “How we can keep consumers in grocery stores longer?” as an exercise. We listed all components, chose one, and then create ideas quickly, with time constraints.
The exercise demonstrated the effectiveness of the technique. Many new ideas were generated. The constraints forced new thinking, new potential value.
Boyd then gave many examples of the five techniques. The book explaining these methods is called Inside the Box.
Many of the innovators were excited about this technique, which works backwards from the empathy-first methods so popular today. Boyd claims that these methods improve the efficacy of brainstorming exponentially.

Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric, and also serves as VP Innovation at Hunter Fan. Visit to learn more.

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