# The principle of function follows form

## Video: The principle of function follows form

Innovation is the process of taking an idea and putting it into practice. Creativity, on the other hand, is what you do in your head to generate the idea, an idea that meets three criteria: An innovative idea must be new, useful, and surprising. New means that no one else has done it before. Useful means that it delivers some new value for you or your customers. And surprising, it means that the market will be delighted with your latest innovation.

## The principle of function follows form

Innovation is the process of taking an idea and putting it into practice. Creativity, on the other hand, is what you do in your head to generate the idea, an idea that meets three criteria: An innovative idea must be new, useful, and surprising. New means that no one else has done it before. Useful means that it delivers some new value for you or your customers. And surprising, it means that the market will be delighted with your latest innovation.

Most people think the way you create an idea is to start with a well-formed problem and then brainstorm a solution to it. What if you turned that around 180 degrees? It sounds counterintuitive, but you really can innovate by starting with the solution and then work backwards to the problem. In the systematic inventive thinking method, we call it the Function Follows Form Principle. Here's how it works. First, you start with an existing situation.

That situation can be a product, it can be a service, or perhaps a process. You take that item, and you make a list of its components and attributes. Then you apply one of the five thinking tools. They're called subtraction, division, multiplication, task unification, and attribute dependency. I know some of these sound mathematical, but they're really not, as you'll see when you start applying them. When you apply one of the five tools to the existing situation, you artificially change it.

It morphs into something that, at first, might seem really weird or absurd. That's perfectly normal. In fact, as you get more comfortable with this method, you'll come to expect it. We consider the strange thing a virtual product. It doesn't really exist except in one place, right up here in your mind. This step is really important. Take your time. You have to mentally define and visualize the virtual product.

I like to close my eyes and mentally see an image of the item once it's been manipulated. As you practice the method more, this will get a lot easier. At this stage, you ask yourself two questions, and you do it in this specific order. The first question is, "Should we do it?" Does this new configuration create any advantage or solve some problem? Is there a target audience who would find this beneficial? Does it deliver an unmet need? We call this step the market filter.

It's a filter because if you cannot identify even the tiniest benefit at this step, you throw the concept out the window. You don't waste any more time on it. This is very different than other ideation techniques like brainstorming, where there is no bad idea. Trust me, there are plenty of bad ideas, and if you realize one here, you eject it and go back and reapply the tool to generate a different concept. If you do identify some benefit, then and only then do you ask yourself the second question, "Can we do it?" Do we have the technical know-how to make this concept? Is it feasible? Do we have the intellectual property? Are there regulatory or legal barriers? This step is the implementation filter because once again, if you have a great idea in theory but no way to make it, don't waste any more time on it.

If you pass through both filters, you move on to the adaptation step, where you allow yourself some degree of freedom to modify the concept to make it even stronger and deliver even more value. You may have to iterate through these steps several times before you end up with what I would consider an idea. With each of the five techniques taught in this course, you will apply the principle of function follows form.

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1. ### Introduction

1m 41s
1. Welcome
1m 22s
2. Using the exercise files
19s
2. ### 1. Understanding How Innovation Occurs

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. ### 2. Using the Subtraction Technique

11m 55s
1. Functional fixedeness
2m 26s
2. The subtraction technique
2m 59s
3. Subtraction in action
4m 8s
2m 22s
4. ### 3. Using the Division Technique

10m 35s
1. Structural fixedness
2m 32s
2. The division technique
2m 43s
3. Division in action
3m 3s
2m 17s
5. ### 4. Using the Multiplication Technique

16m 25s
1. The multiplication technique
4m 24s
2. Multiplication in action
4m 39s
3. Zooming in and zooming out
4m 51s
2m 31s

15m 45s
4m 19s
4m 14s
4m 27s
2m 45s
7. ### 6. Using the Attribute Dependency Technique

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
1m 57s
8. ### 7. Innovating at Work

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. ### 8. Mastering Innovation

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. ### Bonus: Interview with Drew Boyd

52m 41s
2m 9s
2. What is innovation?
51s
3. What got Drew started in innovation?
2m 15s
4. On innovation as a skill
1m 53s
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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