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Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results

Drew Boyd & Jacob Goldenberg

AnandLokhande: Anand is an accomplished SAP professional and a management post graduate from a premier business school in India. Anand has 22 years of experience which includes SAP Project Management (Service delivery, Implementation, Roll out, Support)

D rew Boyd has over thirty years of industry experience. He was the founder director of the Marketing Mastery progam at Johnson & Johnson.

Jacob Goldenberg is a professor of marketing at IDC Hertzelia and a visiting professor of marketing at the Columbia University. He is an expert in the areas of creativity, new product development, innovation, market complexity and the overall effects of social networks.

The book presents a very interesting and different perspective of creativity and innovative thinking. Any individual with a keen eye to detail and understanding of the processes can apply his experience to innovate. Traditionally, innovation and creativity has been viewed as abstract, unstructured, without any particular pattern. It is about the belief that in order to generate new ideas, one must brainstorm without restraint until a solution is found. Thinking ‘outside of the box’ is perceived to be truly original and innovative.

The authors present an exactly opposite view of the same and go on to demonstrate how all creativity and innovation is tied into the existing scenario. This book features the basic techniques and principles that are at the core of this method. The authors have used examples of products and services to elucidate their core theme – the SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking). The manner in which Samsonite was able to break into the college backpack market or the slim version of the DVD player produced by Philips is classic application of the SIT method.

There are five basic techniques according to the authors, which are used to solve difficult business problems and create unparalleled disruptions. These are Subtraction, Division, Multiplication, Task Unification and Attribute Dependency. There are several examples which the authors go on to demonstrate how these techniques have been used on several products or services to innovate and come up with much more disruptive creations. Subtracting the ear covers from the headphones gave us ear buds to listen to music. Budget airlines subtracted the meals and the frills to give us discount fares and changed the entire flying landscape. Division is really ensuring that the work is done but by dividing the components. The remote controls on several electronic devices helped deliver great amount of ease and convenience in operating them. Multiplying the existing features helped the product to be much more attractive and user-friendly. Adding two smaller wheels on either side of the bicycle called as ‘training wheels’ did a miracle to kids all over the world, learning to ride a bicycle. The balance was still maintained and there was no fear of falling and injuring oneself. As the child learnt to ride, the principle of subtraction came into place, when the parent removed the training wheels and allowed the child to ride with balance. Unifying different tasks, a product or service has been enhanced in its ability to deliver value. Advertisements in moving vehicles like buses, taxis, metro and even school buses has helped the brand marketer to take his brand further ahead. Toothpastes are doing the function of whitening the teeth as well as cleaning. This has made the teeth whitening powders redundant. Smart phones are perhaps the best example of task unification. One single device can do the work of a calling device, a computer to connect to the internet, emailing tasks, camera, torch, GPS navigator to name a few. Many of us own cars which have auto lamp and and rain sensing wiper features. Our smart phones also adjust to the light in the room. GPS enabled phones provide information about nearby restaurants, malls, fuel stations for a travelling individual. Attribute dependency is the last technique helps previously unconnected and uncorrelated products to come together and produce a very new innovative offering for the consumer.

The important thing here is to note that all of this is easily feasible to be done within the space and time of existing scenarios. This is called as the Closed World by the authors. It is more like the ‘here and now’. This also reminds us of the concept of ‘jugaad ’ employed by so many Indian innovators over the years – they have always thought about the ‘here and now’. But of course the five techniques from the authors are far superior to ‘jugaad’. Another important principle, they have turned around on its head, is that of ‘form follows function’.

Jugaad – hindi word for a rickety invention which is very economical and practical

They use the principle called ‘function follows form’ originally reported first by three psychologists in 1992. It is very intriguing to note that every individual is always looking to search for benefits from a given configuration rather than look for the best configuration itself. ‘Following’ the solution will help to rediscover the new function of an existing product or service. It is perhaps easier this way than to try and come up with a totally new solution.

To solve a problem, one needs to look inward. This is similar to the age old Indian tradition of ‘aatmachintan’ – self introspection. The authors bring this aspect of looking inward and recommend that there is much more inside the box than outside. They claim that the myth of creativity being found ‘outside’ will be shattered as proved in so many cases of products and services.

The book offers new insights into the makings of very successful products and services. Interestingly for students of research, this book is an eye-opener. It can bring a paradigm shift in the way research scholars look at their areas of study in order to create something new.

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