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Subtraction in action

From: Business Innovation Fundamentals

Video: Subtraction in action

Let's try our hand at the subtraction technique. For this exercise, you're going to practice on a product that you're familiar with, a household refrigerator. In fact, we'll use this same product throughout the course on all five techniques so you can see how they differ. To use subtraction, you start by listing the components of the refrigerator. With the subtraction technique, remember that you list only the internal components, and by internal, I mean any component that is directly connected to or a part of the refrigerator, those things under the manufacturer's control.

Subtraction in action

Let's try our hand at the subtraction technique. For this exercise, you're going to practice on a product that you're familiar with, a household refrigerator. In fact, we'll use this same product throughout the course on all five techniques so you can see how they differ. To use subtraction, you start by listing the components of the refrigerator. With the subtraction technique, remember that you list only the internal components, and by internal, I mean any component that is directly connected to or a part of the refrigerator, those things under the manufacturer's control.

The components would include the compressor, the door, door handle, shelves, drawers, ice maker, light bulb, and temperature control. Notice that we just list the big components, not every little tiny one. Write these on a flip chart or white board if you're working with a team of colleagues. So what about things like food? That's part of the refrigerator, isn't it? We would consider that an external component, and you'll see how some of the techniques use both internal and external components, but for now, let's leave it off your list.

Now, using the function follows form process, let's go to the next step and apply subtraction. You can pick a component randomly, or you can pick an essential one, the compressor, for example. The compressor, as you may know, is responsible for cooling the air in the refrigerator, so it's pretty essential. If you're like most people, your mind is already rushing ahead to imagine a refrigerator without a compressor, and it seems absurd, like a totally useless idea.

But hold on. Be true to the process. You must let the process work the way it was designed to get a good result. All you do at this stage is imagine this as a virtual product. Try to avoid rushing to judgment. Also avoid trying to think of things that would replace the compressor. All you do is visualize it and give it a name, something like a compressor-less refrigerator. Now ask yourself two questions.

First question is should we do it? What would be the benefit of a refrigerator without a compressor? Who would want this, and why? Well, it would certainly be cheaper. You'd have a lot less noise and heat in the kitchen. You'd also have a lot more room at the bottom of the refrigerator. Since we identified some benefits, you ask yourself the second question, can we do it? Is it feasible to make a compressor-less refrigerator? Yes, it could certainly be manufactured.

Perhaps the unit is for cool weather climates only, and it's kept outside. But what about the cooling aspect? Once you complete this first round, the subtraction technique allows you to replace the function of the missing component. Remember, always try to replace it with something from the closed world, something in the immediate vicinity of where the consumer uses the product. If you're not able to, you can think of how to import some technology or other component from outside the closed world.

In this case, what if you replaced the compressor function with the air conditioning unit of the house? It has a compressor too. What if you used your neighbor's compressor inside their refrigerator? If you're a leading maker of refrigerators looking for new markets, perhaps a communal approach to food storage and refrigeration might be a great idea. Such a unit could be ideal for apartments or temporary housing.

After we've explored one idea, like this compressor-less refrigeration, the next step is to go back and apply the subtraction technique again using a different component.

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This video is part of

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Business Innovation Fundamentals

58 video lessons · 2241 viewers

Drew Boyd
Author

 
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  1. 1m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 22s
    2. Using the exercise files
      19s
  2. 21m 37s
    1. What is innovation? Introducing Systematic Inventive Thinking
      3m 21s
    2. The principle of function follows form
      4m 8s
    3. The closed-world principle
      4m 16s
    4. Characteristics of innovative products and services
      3m 51s
    5. Challenging the myth of thinking outside the box
      3m 11s
    6. Challenging the myth of serendipity
      2m 50s
  3. 11m 55s
    1. Functional fixedeness
      2m 26s
    2. The subtraction technique
      2m 59s
    3. Subtraction in action
      4m 8s
    4. Addressing common challenges
      2m 22s
  4. 10m 35s
    1. Structural fixedness
      2m 32s
    2. The division technique
      2m 43s
    3. Division in action
      3m 3s
    4. Addressing common challenges
      2m 17s
  5. 16m 25s
    1. The multiplication technique
      4m 24s
    2. Multiplication in action
      4m 39s
    3. Zooming in and zooming out
      4m 51s
    4. Addressing common challenges
      2m 31s
  6. 15m 45s
    1. The task-unification technique
      4m 19s
    2. Task unification in action
      4m 14s
    3. Using task unification for business issues
      4m 27s
    4. Addressing common challenges
      2m 45s
  7. 17m 49s
    1. The attribute dependency technique
      3m 32s
    2. Creating an attribute dependency matrix
      3m 37s
    3. Types of dependencies
      4m 12s
    4. Attribute dependency in action
      4m 31s
    5. Addressing common challenges
      1m 57s
  8. 27m 7s
    1. Running ideation workshops
      4m 13s
    2. Which technique to use
      3m 26s
    3. Creating new services and processes
      3m 17s
    4. Creating digital innovations
      5m 12s
    5. Involving customers
      5m 49s
    6. Evaluating ideas
      5m 10s
  9. 14m 48s
    1. Mastering innovative thinking
      3m 42s
    2. Building a pilot program
      3m 56s
    3. Addressing organizational challenges with innovation
      4m 3s
    4. Next steps
      3m 7s
  10. 52m 41s
    1. About Drew
      2m 9s
    2. What is innovation?
      51s
    3. What got Drew started in innovation?
      2m 15s
    4. On innovation as a skill
      1m 53s
    5. On innovation as part of your business
      1m 58s
    6. On resistance to innovation
      3m 31s
    7. On innovation's tainted image
      2m 34s
    8. Where do you apply innovation strategies?
      2m 31s
    9. Who should lead an innovation effort?
      3m 6s
    10. On favorite innovation experiences
      3m 51s
    11. On innovation vs. strategy
      3m 36s
    12. On working with innovation consultants
      3m 20s
    13. On trends in innovation
      3m 26s
    14. On innovation as competition
      2m 32s
    15. On innovative companies
      2m 43s
    16. On generating vs. executing ideas
      3m 2s
    17. Can you overdo innovation?
      2m 1s
    18. How do you start innovating?
      3m 44s
    19. On the most innovative products
      3m 38s

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