The traditional view of creativity is that it’s unstructured and doesn’t
follow rules or patterns. That you need to think outside the box,
brainstorming without constraint, until you find a solution. That you
should go wild making analogies to things that have nothing to do with
your products, services or processes.
In fact, the opposite is true. Creative ideas hide inside the box.
SIT is an innovation method that harnesses five thinking patterns that
mankind has used for thousands of years.
Surprisingly, the majority of new, inventive, and successful products
result from just five patterns: subtraction, division, multiplication, task
unification and attribute dependency. These patterns form the basis of
Path of Most Resistance
Function Follows Form
A cognitive bias that limits our ability to change
our perspective. It hampers our creativity.
First defined by psychologist Karl Duncker in
1940s (famous candle experiment)
Types of Fixedness
Functional Fixedness: Use something
only for what it was designed for
Structural Fixedness: Unwillingness to
accept objects in a different shape
Relational Fixedness: The
interrelationship between two objects
Path of Most
In nature, water cascading down a mountain will always
follow the path of least resistance- the easiest route. In
thinking, too, our minds tend to take the path of least
resistance- those avenues that are familiar to us. In doing
so, it is difficult to arrive at new ideas. Therefore, when
we want to come up with really new and innovative
ideas, it makes sense to take the counter-intuitive path
– the path of most resistance. This is the path our minds
are much less accustomed to using. All SIT tools are
designed to lead thinkers through their PoMR.
Closed World Principle
Discovered by Dr. Roni Horowitz, the
principle states: “When solving a problem or
creating a new solution, one should strive to
use only those resources that exist in the
product or system itself or in its immediate
Think of the Closed World as a boundary
surrounding the product or service. When you
recruit resources inside that boundary to
generate an idea, the idea tends to be more
The beauty of the Closed World is that you can often time change the size of it by zooming in or zooming out. Doing
so completely changes the types of innovations you will create using the SIT method.
This is counterintuitive because most people think that you need to get way outside the current domain to be
innovative. Traditional creativity and innovation methods use random stimuli to push you outside the Closed
World, when they should be doing the opposite.
Utilization of existing resources is oftentimes more efficient, immediate and less costly than importing resources
from an external source.
Function Follows Form
Back in the early ’90’s, a group of psychologists, led
by Ronald Finke, made an interesting discovery.
When it comes to creating, people are innately
better at uncovering the potential benefits of a
given form than creating a new form to satisfy a
given need. This discovery spurred a new thinking
approach called Function Follows Form that
encourages us to first create a Virtual Situation
(form), and then to explore its potential benefits
The first stage of the FFF (Function Follows Form)
process is precisely defining the existing situation.
In order to best apply the SIT tools, one must
define a clear existing situation, which includes all
process stages, product components, and strategic
resources. Only when you have your existing
situation clearly defined can you move to the
second stage of FFF, applying an SIT tool.
Elimination of an existing core or essential
Divide a component along physical or temporal
space and rearrange it back into the product
Copy an already existing component and changing
in some novel / counterintuitive way
4. Task Unification
Assigning another task (in addition to what it was
designed to do) to an existing component
Modify the correlation between two attributes of a
The result of mentally manipulating the existing
product is called a Virtual Product. Visualizing the
virtual product is not a simple task, since it is initially
not at all clear what its possible uses could be. This
can very often create a sense of discomfort due to the
feeling of uncertainty generated. This, however, is the
very reason why FFF is so effective. Users are forced
to genuinely try to figure out possible benefits –
which often leads them to identify previously
unidentified needs or audiences for new products.