Change Implementation Techniques for Forming Transitional Team, Creating Alignment, Maximizing Connectedness and Creativity

Technique 6.26 Attribute Dependency

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This involves dependent relationships that exist between attributes of a product and attributes of its immediate environment. For example, some product characteristics, such as colour, have strong dependency relationships with characteristics of the environment, such as gender and/or age of the user. Innovative thinking can be spurred by trying to create new dependencies where they do not normally exist and/or modifying/dissolving dependencies where they do. Some examples:

- eyeglasses - there is no dependent relationship between the colour of the lens and external lighting conditions. By creating a dependency, a lens was developed that changes when exposed to sunlight ‐ thus eliminating the need for separate sunglasses.

- dimensions and stiffness of a sleeping mattress - normally these 2 attributes are not perceived as related. On the other hand, linking the 2 resulted in varying the stiffness along the length of the mattress, ie providing additional support where it was needed.

- everyone using the same standardized razors - separate razors were developed for men and women

The attribute dependency can be the most fruitful pattern but also the most difficult to apply. Usually it is best to create a matrix of internal (rows) and external attributes (columns). For example, a mobile phone has internal attributes that include the phone's colour, the tone of ring, the information provided on the screen, amount of charge in the batteries, etc. Some relevant external attributes include the user's age and gender, the caller's identity, frequency of use, etc. In pairing the attributes, the dependencies will be obvious. For example, mobile phones need to have batteries to operate. On the other hand, functions can be developed that are not dependent on the main battery status, ie a small backup battery

Function follows form

Listen to the voice of your product. This requires a mind-set change. It begins by breaking down the product into essential physical components.

It is important not to waste time in endless debate about which parts should be included. On other hand, it is important to compile a thoughtful list. For example, a telephone consists of a microphone, a keypad, a speaker, a handset and a base, along with wires and other components to connect and package the parts.

If you are going to use more than 1 pattern, you could need to itemise further. For example, list the product attributes, such as the telephone which comes in different colours, and list the attributes of the environment, such as its uses, where it is usually located (flat surface), who uses it, etc.

At this point, you visualize potential products irrespective of how bizarre or strange they might seem. This is not the time to get judgmental.

All ideas need to be recorded irrespective of their current and perceived usefulness to the customer. For example, hand-held non-recording tape recorders seemed a strange concept until Sony stumbled upon the untapped billion dollar market of "walkers and joggers" for its Walkman tape players.


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