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When using the subtraction technique, I want you to be aware of these common mistakes. As tempting as it may be, don't look at just the troublesome component to take out. Taking out bad components to improve the performance is not using the subtraction technique. Rather, it's fine tuning the characteristics of the product to change the way it works. For example, taking out the sugar in soda to create a sugar free drink certainly creates a new version of the original beverage, but this is not subtraction.
This is simply changing the recipe. The subtraction technique for this soda example would be removing something essential. Maybe the water or the caramel flavor. Next, always try to take out essential components even if it seems absurd. It may feel like you're ruining the product, but try it anyway. The key is to mentally visualize and focus on what's left in the system, rather than focusing on what's missing. By seeing all the remaining components as part of a new and useful configuration, you'll overcome that initial terrifying feeling of taking out the most essential one.
When you take out a component, try to resist the urge to replace it. The discomfort of removing an essential element is so powerful that your mind will rush in to rescue the product. You may find yourself instantly searching to fill in the void with another component to make it whole again. Subtraction may seem like an easy technique to use, but you have to be careful. The temptation will be to look at the strange new configuration and try to redefine it around something you know.
For example, removing the screen from a TV causes most people to visualize it immediately as a radio. But you have to resist jumping to those kinds of conclusions, or it will create a mental block. When using subtraction, keep in mind that subtraction is not the same as a common marketing technique called unbundling. Unbundling is taking out features or downgrading the quality of components of a product so that you can charge a lower price. It might be a good idea to defeature the product, but don't confuse this with using the subtraction technique.
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