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Business Innovation Fundamentals
Illustration by Neil Webb
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The closed-world principle


From:

Business Innovation Fundamentals

with Drew Boyd

Video: The closed-world principle

You know how certain innovative products make you slap your forehead and say, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" We tend to be surprised by those products that are deceptively simple in using some aspect or component in the immediate vicinity of where the product is being used. We call this the Closed-World Principle. It states that when solving a problem or generating ideas, one should strive to use only those resources that exist in the product or system itself or in its immediate vicinity.
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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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Business Innovation Fundamentals
3h 10m Appropriate for all Jun 09, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Innovation propels companies forward. It's an unlimited source of new growth and can give businesses a distinct competitive advantage. Learn how to innovate at your own business using Systematic Inventive Thinking, a method based on five techniques that allow you to innovate on demand. In this course, author and business school professor Drew Boyd shares the techniques he's taught Fortune 500 companies to innovate new services and products. Drew provides real-world examples of innovation in practice and suggests places to find your own opportunities to innovate.

In the bonus chapter, Drew shares insights from his own career and answers tough questions on resistance to innovation, innovation and leadership, and the difference between generating vs. executing innovative ideas.

Topics include:
  • What is innovation?
  • Understanding the myths about creativity and barriers to innovation
  • Understanding the characteristics of innovative products and services
  • Using the five techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking
  • Creating new services and processes at work
  • Running innovation workshops
  • Involving customers in innovation
  • Mastering innovative thinking
Subjects:
Business Business Skills Leadership Management
Author:
Drew Boyd

The closed-world principle

You know how certain innovative products make you slap your forehead and say, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" We tend to be surprised by those products that are deceptively simple in using some aspect or component in the immediate vicinity of where the product is being used. We call this the Closed-World Principle. It states that when solving a problem or generating ideas, one should strive to use only those resources that exist in the product or system itself or in its immediate vicinity.

In other words, the closer your innovative solution is to the problem, the more creative it will be. Imagine you're driving your car far away from town, and you suddenly realize you have a flat tire. You start changing the tire, but there is a problem. The lug nuts are so rusted it can't remove them. You even try jumping on the tire wrench to loosen them but to no avail. Take a moment to think about this. What would you do? Do you see a solution? If you're like most people, your first reaction is to call for help using your cellphone, either a friend or a family member or roadside assistance.

You could also hitch a ride with a car passing by. These are viable solutions, and there is nothing wrong with them, but you have to agree they're not very creative. Let's move closer to the problem where a more creative solution might be hiding. What if we used elements within the car itself? You could use oil from the car's engine and try to lubricate the lug nuts to loosen them. You could take the tire wrench, put it on the lug nut, and then rock your car back and forth very gently to force the ground to turn the tire wrench.

These solutions are more creative than the ones we saw before. Now let's move very close, right inside the closed world of our tire changing problem. Let's consider all components in the immediate vicinity, right under our noses, so to speak. You have a spare tire, a jack, the handle that turns the jack, a wrench for removing a hub cap, and of course, the tire wrench. How could these components help? What about the spare tire? How could it be used? Of course, we've already tried the tire wrench.

I don't see much use for the handle and the other small wrench, but what about the jack? What is the jack designed to do? What if we took the jack and placed it under the tire wrench and then used the force of the jack to turn the tire wrench and loosen the lug nuts? The power applied by the jack is very strong. After all, it's designed to lift a car. Now that you see the solution, you think, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" It looks so obvious in hindsight.

That's the quality of the closed world. That's what gives us that element of surprise when we generate solutions using this principle. The first two solutions, using a cellphone or hitching a ride, are far away from the tire changing problem, and they're not that creative. When we took one step closer by using elements in the car, such as the oil, we got closer in proximity, and we increased the creativeness of our solutions. But when we got right next to the problem, we were able to see the potential to use the jack to turn the wrench.

It's the most creative of all the other solutions. The closed world principle opens up a whole new world of possibilities. The next time you're in need of a creative solution, force yourself to see components right around you in a whole new light. And when you're looking at those components, don't be too quick to eliminate possible solutions. I hope you master the closed world principle. If you do, you won't be asking yourself, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" That's because you will be the one creating breakthrough ideas.

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