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The multiplication technique

From: Business Innovation Fundamentals

Video: The multiplication technique

A common problem in photography is the occurrence of red eye, like you see here. Red eye happens when the flash of a camera goes into the eyeball. It hits the back of your eye, which has a lot of tiny blood vessels. The light picks up the red color from the blood in these vessels, and then it bounces straight back into your camera lens. Your friends get that eerie red eye look. But today's cameras have a clever and simple way to defeat red eye. They have a dual flash.

The multiplication technique

A common problem in photography is the occurrence of red eye, like you see here. Red eye happens when the flash of a camera goes into the eyeball. It hits the back of your eye, which has a lot of tiny blood vessels. The light picks up the red color from the blood in these vessels, and then it bounces straight back into your camera lens. Your friends get that eerie red eye look. But today's cameras have a clever and simple way to defeat red eye. They have a dual flash.

The first flash causes the person's pupil to constrict enough so that very little light will get in. At that exact moment, the second flash goes off, lights up the subject matter, and voila, no red eye. This innovation is a classic example of the multiplication technique. The multiplication technique is defined as copying an element already existing in a product or service but changing it in some counterintuitive way.

To use the technique, begin by listing the components of the product, process, or service. You pick one of those components, make a copy of it. You keep the original component as is, but the copied component is changed. That creates the virtual product. Using function follows form, you look for potential benefits, and you modify or adapt the concept to improve it to yield an innovative idea.

So how do you change the multiplied component? Here is a handy tool to use when applying the multiplication technique. First, create a table like the one you see here. You list the components down the left-hand column, as I've done here for our refrigerator example. Then, for each component, you identify its attributes. Attributes are things like its weight, its shape, its height, or perhaps its color. You list the attributes for each component.

Here in the far right column, you start to visualize each virtual product for each multiplied component and each of its attributes. A simple table like this can help you keep organized, using this very powerful technique. Let me show you some examples of multiplication. The consumer products company, Procter & Gamble, used the multiplication technique to create the Febreze NOTICEable Air Freshener. It's called NOTICEable because it has a clever way to keep you smelling the scent.

After a period of time, your nose becomes too accustomed to a smell, and the brain shuts it out. But this product gets around that. It has not one but two different scents. The first scent pulses out into the room but then stops right about the time your nose stops recognizing it. Just then, the second scent starts pulsing out into the room, and your nose picks up where the other one left off. Pretty clever.

Here is another example. Gillette multiplied the razor blade of a straight edge razor to create the Trac II Twin-Blade Shaving System. The first blade gently lifts the whisker so that the second blade can cut off the whisker for a closer shave. The copied component is different in its location and function. By the way, you may have noticed Gillette and other companies have added even more blades to their razors. They have as many as five blades, but they don't really do anything differently than the first one.

I don't consider that a creative idea but rather just a way to improve performance. Look at this measuring cup. It has two sets of measurements along the side. It has the original measurements and a second set of measurements and an odd angle around the perimeter of the cup. Why would that be valuable? Well, as you tilt the cup to pour the liquid, the second set of measurements allows you to continue measuring the amount of liquid. That's very convenient.

Multiplication accounts for many new products and services, and it's straightforward to use. You want to make this powerful technique a part of your innovation arsenal.

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This video is part of

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Business Innovation Fundamentals

58 video lessons · 2459 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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