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An Introduction to the Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) Method

In this talk, I introduced the SIT method and how it could be used to build innovative products.

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An Introduction to the Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) Method

  1. 1. An Introduction to the Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) Method Tathagat Varma Strategy & Operations, Walmart Doctoral Scholar, Indian School of Business
  2. 2. What separates them? “Innovation”
  3. 3. Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) 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 SIT.,
  4. 4. SIT Usage
  5. 5. SIT Principles Cognitive Fixedness Path of Most Resistance Closed World Function Follows Form Existing Situation Virtual Product
  6. 6. Cognitive Fixedness 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)
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. Path of Most Resistance (PoMR) 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.
  9. 9. 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 vicinity.” 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 creative. 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.
  10. 10. 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 (function).
  11. 11. Existing Situation 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.
  12. 12. SIT Thinking Tools Subtraction Division Multiplication Task Unification Attribute Dependency
  13. 13. 1. Subtraction Elimination of an existing core or essential component
  14. 14. 2. Division Divide a component along physical or temporal space and rearrange it back into the product
  15. 15. 3. Multiplication Copy an already existing component and changing in some novel / counterintuitive way
  16. 16. 4. Task Unification Assigning another task (in addition to what it was designed to do) to an existing component
  17. 17. 5. Attribute Dependency Modify the correlation between two attributes of a product
  18. 18. Virtual Product 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.
  19. 19. Recap
  20. 20. Questions?
  21. 21. References Inside the Box - Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg, 2013 why-be-creative spot