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Monthly Archive for May, 2009

Become greener by breaking fixedness

Amnon and I presented last week in Greener by Design (GbD) in San Francisco, subtitled “Greener Products for Leaner Times”.  Our innovation message for companies working on going greener was to focus on finding and tackling their fixedness.

Cognitive Fixedness, first defined by psychologist Karl Duncker, prevents individuals and companies from creating new configurations in the systems they manage.  This often blocks us from seeing potential efficiencies and material reduction, and breakthrough solutions to problems.  SIT tools help break 3 kinds of cognitive fixedness:

1. Structural – The tendency to view products and systems as a complete gestalt.  Many of SIT’s tools help break this particular fixedness.  The following water saving toilet (click to check out the cool animation!) was developed by Villeroy-Boch in an SIT workshop.  Multiplying the water streams resulted in more pressure in each stream, therefore requiring less water.  This product won the ISH Innovation Prize and was chosen by Deutsche Bank in its transformation of its HQ to be the most environmentally friendly high-rises in Europe.

2. Functional – Seeing objects as capable only of fulfilling their original function.  SIT uses the Task Unification tool to help innovators find new uses for existing resources, thus forcing them find new functions for available objects and tackle functional fixedness.  My previous post described several such uses of unexpected resources for generating energy.

Continue reading ‘Become greener by breaking fixedness’

Do we really need inventive thinking tools?

Despite the innovative, inventive image I am accredited with (for no substantial reason), the mobile phone in my possession until two weeks ago was of one of the very first generations, and it certainly fulfilled my basic communications needs. However, during my last family trip to Ein Tamir (a water-filled spring tunnel in Nahal Kziv) I accidentally left my phone in my pocket and as I emerged from the water, soaked through, I found that the instrument had ceased to function. About an hour later, at home, I deconstructed the device and, using my daughter’s hair dryer (“utilization of existing resources”, or in SIT lingo – implementing the rule of Task Unification) I succeeded in making the phone functional again… with the exception of the display screen that could not be revived.

While my wife and daughter (clearly post-modern women as made obvious by their choice of mobile phones) began pressuring me to get rid of the device and replace it with one of a more advanced generation, I kept considering what could possibly be done with a screen-less yet functional mobile phone. The idea that flashed through my mind, spiced with a bit of black humor, was “Why not sell it to a blind person?”

But now a little more seriously… Any SIT New Product Development (NPD) workshop addressing mobile phones would inevitably, in a structured and systematic manner (by applying the Subtraction tool), reach the potential product: a mobile telephone for the blind. The end product would have no display screen (the subtracted component), but would have supporting functions appropriate specifically for a blind user. Continue reading ‘Do we really need inventive thinking tools?’

SIT is proud to announce the launching of its latest book – Cracking the Ad Code

Through the use of over 100 advertisement examples and numerous case studies, Cracking the Ad Code provides you with practical tools for quick production of creative ideas in marketing communications.

The book includes a mixture of systematic analysis of the creation aspect of advertising, together with a taste of the real world of advertising and what makes it work.

Marketing professionals in companies will learn what to expect from their agencies, whilst agencies will be able to explain their work to clients in an analytic language that is easily understood.

Books can be purchased online through the Cambridge or Amazon websites.

Boosting Advertisers’ Creativity: Going Back to the Brief!

Sources of creative inspiration can take different forms. One such form can be the communication objectives, included in the creative brief to the advertising agency. Now, this may sound odd! I mean, ask any art director/copy writer and you’ll hear that these objectives are the least inspiring element in the entire process!

So, how can we make our objectives more inspiring?

Take this Cannes Lions winning ad for Softlan Ultra by Y&R Malaysia for example:


Advertising Agency: Y&R, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Creative Directors: Rahul Mathew, Rowan Chanen
Art Directors: Richard Chong, Scott McClelland
Copywriter: Rahul Mathew
Retouching: Magic Cube

One possible way to describe the objective of this campaign is: “Sell more Softlan” or “The softest fabric conditioner”. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most popular ways that clients phrase objectives in their briefs to the agency. But, just think of the poor copywriter who gets yet another brief asking him to “sell more”. These guys get dozens of such requests each week and are expected to come up with a completely new creative idea each and every time.

Continue reading ‘Boosting Advertisers’ Creativity: Going Back to the Brief!’

Innovation Barriers | Chapter 1: Why We Struggle

This is the first of a series of posts discussing innovation barriers. This series will not encompass all that can be said on the subject. That would take a series of books. It will describe, however, several types of barriers we face when we try to innovate. It will also discuss these barriers in relation to the innovation methodologies that have been developed to address them.

Dr. Gadi Segal, a business partner and a good friend, told me once that “the more therapeutic options you have for a disease, the more likely it is that none of them is really effective.”

When I make the analogy to the realm of innovation I hesitate to conclude that none of the innovation methodologies available is really effective… Let’s just agree that the abundance of approaches and technique is indicative of the magnitude of the challenges posed by innovation.

Continue reading ‘Innovation Barriers | Chapter 1: Why We Struggle’