How can I invent something completely new?

Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. We are about to describe not only the final template of the SIT method of creativity, but in my opinion, the hardest to implement. Attribute Dependency is extremely effective. In fact, its use (though perhaps unknown to its user) leads to over 1/3 of innovations, and is extremely reliable in its ability to lead to creative ideas. It is hard to learn but well worth the effort in the long run. I will try to simplify it here, so that you can get a concise overview.

Although the first 4 templates work with the components of a product (the components of a fridge beings it compressor, shelving, icemaker…), Attribute Dependency works with the product’s attributes (size and location of the compressor, style and height of the shelving and how often the ice is dispensed). It allows us to find potential new relationships that we didn’t notice before as well as additional features that can enhance our product. The system works by creating a matrix and plotting existing relationships and potential new ones.

Take your car radio for example. It sits there, and works as you push the correct buttons, but it is pretty much independent from the rest of your car. There is no current connection between what station is being played and any other part of the car. But imagine that the volume dropped as soon as you answered your speaker phone, so that you could better hear the conversation. Or the radio played a slower, calmer tune if you were speeding unnecessarily or a faster, louder tune if you were slowing down below the speed limit. What if the traffic report turned on automatically as soon as you buckled your seatbelt, or a kids song came on as soon as you buckled in a child in a car seat. This “smart radio” could be marketed as an additional feature to a car and allow the car company to charge a nice markup on top of its baseline price.

But wait – there’s more. What about if there was now a relationship between the radio and the seats in the car? Imagine if the seat gave an automatic vibrating massage when a slower song was played? Or the seatbelt tightened as it sensed you were cranking up the volume unnecessarily.

Attribute Dependency can be used to discover all sort of new connections and relationships. By taking the time to think through potential new connections (time, space, cost, weight, color, height..), unexpected results will be reached time and time again.

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