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Task unification in action

From: Business Innovation Fundamentals

Video: Task unification in action

White-haired man: Let's apply the task unification technique to a common household appliance: a refrigerator. You begin by listing the product's internal and external components. Then you select one of the comonents and assign it an additional job in some non-obvious, counter-intuitive way. We can force an internal component to steal the job of another internal or external component. We can also force an external component to take on additional functions, or we can imagine any of our components taking on a completely new task in addition to its current one.

Task unification in action

White-haired man: Let's apply the task unification technique to a common household appliance: a refrigerator. You begin by listing the product's internal and external components. Then you select one of the comonents and assign it an additional job in some non-obvious, counter-intuitive way. We can force an internal component to steal the job of another internal or external component. We can also force an external component to take on additional functions, or we can imagine any of our components taking on a completely new task in addition to its current one.

Using function follows form, ask yourself 2 questions. The first question is, should we do it? What would be the benefits of a refrigerator with this new configuration? Who would want it and why? If you identify some benefit, you ask yourself the second question, can we do it? Is it feasible to make a refrigerator that delivers this benefit? You try to modify and improve the concept to yield an innovative idea. Here is our component list: compressor, the door, door handle, shelves, drawers, ice maker, light bulb, and temperature control.

We also have added the external components: food, beverages, packaging, water for the ice maker, and family members. Let's try an example. How about the light bulb? Let's imagine our virtual product is a light bulb that has the additional job of food preparation. That's a strange idea, especially since light makes food spoil faster. That's why the light in your refrigerator turns off when the door closes.

But let's stay true to the process and try to break fixedness. Imagine the light bulb having some beneficial effect on food, or perhaps the food packaging. How would this work? Why would it be beneficial? What if the family bought a food item that wasn't ready to consume? Perhaps it needed to thaw or ripen. Certain cheeses, for example, might need a little extra time under a light to make it ready for dinner. Putting certain foods under a light might put it in better condition, not worse, which is our fixed view of light's effect on food.

We could thoroughly research food types to see how different types of light, and amounts of light, might improve the food for the family. What if the light bulb could stay on only in certain compartments? Are there certain types of packaging that could interact with the light to make the food taste better? What if the light could activate the packaging in some way, perhaps to start preparing the food inside of it? Perhaps it could give the homeowner more control of how food is defrosted, but still kept refrigerated while you're at work.

When you come home, the food is ready to cook. What if the light bulb itself could be used to keep the refrigerator clean, perhaps with some different wavelength of light? Could it eliminate certain types of bacteria? Could the light in the refrigerator communicate some useful information? Perhaps it could signal a light on the door when something important is going on inside, perhaps when food is missing or is ready to be used. Could the heat from the light bulb be used for something? Could it keep certain compartments at different temperatures, for example? The key here is to force a component that seems to have only 1 function, and imagine putting it to many more uses.

The task unification technique is so powerful because it forces you to look at non-obvious components, and imagining them creating new value for the consumer. You can imagine how a maker of refrigerators could devote a significant research effort to innovate completely new uses of this innocent little component, the light bulb. Now that's a bright idea.

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This video is part of

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Business Innovation Fundamentals

58 video lessons · 1965 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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