Task Unification

What is Task Unification?

In Task Unification, we assign a new and additional task to an existing resource. Using Task Unification is an effective way to overcome Functional Fixedness. Cultures that are poor in resources tend to adopt the Task Unification mindset. For
example, the Bedouins use the camel for transportation, currency, milk, material for tents, shade, protection from the wind, and fuel (feces). More affluent societies often tend to be less conscious of opportunities for Task Unification.

Applying Task Unification

1. List the product’s internal and external components (its parts as well as objects in its
immediate environment).

2. Apply one of four versions of Task Unification:
a. Choose an internal component and make it do something extra.
b. Choose an external component, and use it to fulfill a task in the product.
c. Choose an external component and find an internal component that can fulfill its
function (“steal” its task).
d. Choose an internal component and find ways in which it can perform the task of other
internal components.

3. Visualize the resulting virtual product.

4. Identify its potential benefits, markets and advantages (market filter – can we sell it?)

5. Apply the implementation filter (can we make it?)

6. Make the necessary adaptations.

Example: Skype

Skype as an example for VoIP service in which the IP “steals” the task of the phone or phone line.

Example: The Walkman

Imagine how thrilled (and proud) the engineer was after he was the first to think of using the Walkman’s earphone cord as an antenna. These feelings stemmed not only from the fact that the new product is smaller, less awkward and cheaper. They were probably due also to the technological (almost philosophical) triumph achieved by using an existing component of the product to successfully carry out the function of another component which could thus be discarded.

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