Combining Systematic Inventive Thinking with Design Thinking yields wonderful innovations. SIT brings a way to create ideas systematically while Design Thinking brings a way to articulate those ideas in an intuitive, appealing way.
Take the Task Unification Technique, for example. It’s one of five in the SIT method. Task Unification works by taking an existing resource in the immediate vicinity of where a product is being used and assigning it an additional task. It yields innovative ideas that are clever and deceptively simple. Add Design Thinking to them and you get pure magic. You’ll recognize these types of ideas when you find yourself slapping your forehead and saying, “Gee, why didn’t I think of that?”
Here are some great examples from the recent Red Dot Awards. See if you can figure out which component has been “unified” with what new “job.”
Tennis Picker:
Bow Tie Bottle:
Fire Hammer:
Bicycle Saddle:
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?