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

Technique 6.27 Determining Potential Function

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You think about its potential function by answering the following questions:

1. Who are there any conceivable customers that this product might satisfy?

2. What benefits might it offer that existing products don't?

3. What drawbacks does it have compared with existing products?

4. What other changes could alleviate the shortcomings?

5. If these challenges can be met, what is the market potential for this product?

6. Is your organisation well-positioned to take advantage of that potential?

7. Does you organisation have the capabilities to produce the product?

As many obvious questions cannot be answered definitively, educated guesses can be made as each potential product is fully evaluated. Sometimes a good idea can emerge from a bad one, such as Philips Slim-line DVD player.

The process is hard work and initially feels uncomfortable.

Sometimes the best results are obtained by following the path of "most resistance", ie non-intuitive route. For example, under subtraction pattern, when removing a desirable component, the preference is to replace it with something else. It is better to look at operating the product with the component missing and/or replacing it with a component in the immediate environment, ie closed world resource. Only after exhausting these possibilities do you consider an external replacement.

Generally, it has been found that useful ideas likely to emerge from an existing product will be generated by just a single pattern. Usually one pattern is enough to push the group to think in new and unusual ways

Functional fixedness. For example, two groups are instructed to attach a candle to a wall in such a way that the wax will not run onto the floor. One group receives a box of matches and a box of wall tacks, while the second group receives an empty matchbox, with matches next to it, and an empty tack box, with the tacks next to it. More often than not, the second group will produce a more viable and elegant solution than the first group. The reason for this is that the second group is able to see the boxes were more than mere containers of matches or tacks. They had an existence separate from what they contained and thus could be used as construction material.

Consequently, there is a need to upset assumptions about the fixedness of products. Furthermore, this process works well as the human mind tends to work best within the confines of a defined problem, ie thinking within a frame of reference enhances inventive productivity. Limited by its inherent rules and constraints, people are more likely to recognize the unexpected idea. This is further supported by the notion that creative discoveries are more likely to emerge when people analyse a novel form and then imagine the function such a form might perform than when they try to come up with optimal forms to achieve a particular function. In other words

"...people tend to be paralyzed when facing a blank slate but generative when given a framework in which to be creative..."

Jacob Goldenberg et al, 2003

(source: Jacob Goldenberg et al, 2003)

Sequence for Implementation

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Ideas can be pigeon-holed into the following categories

Directly usable idea

Good idea but not us

Good idea but not now, ie put on the back-burner

Needs more work

Powerful but not usable

Interesting but not usable

Weak value


Major considerations when evaluating an idea include






(source: Edward deBono, 1992)


To be creative and innovative, there is a need to encourage simplicity

"... when you first think through an idea, it's important not to get bogged down in complexity. Thinking simple and clearly is hard to do. It takes concentration and practice and self-discipline..."

Richard Branson, 2008

The 10 rules of simplicity

1. You need to put a very high value on simplicity

You need to treat simplicity as a primary objective and not as a secondary one. Generally the only time we treat simplicity as an objective is when things are highly complicated and complex.

2. You must be determined to seek simplicity

It is not enough just to appreciate simplicity if it is there. You need to proactively make things simple. Simplicity should not be a peripheral luxury that is added on to other things. There must be an attitude, which is expressed by drivers and motivation, to simplify the expression of things. It is necessary to invest time, thinking energy, design effort and money into trying to make things simple - generally people are unwilling to allocate resources to achieve simplification

3. You need to have a good understanding of the subject matter

True simplicity comes from thorough understanding. Simplicity before understanding is worthless but simplicity after understanding has a value. You need to be very clear about what you are trying to do. If you are seeking to simplify a situation or process, you firstly need to know that situation or process very well

4. You need to design alternatives and possibilities

The emphasis is on design, ie design is the way forward. To design a feasible process requires creativity and lateral thinking. It is more than designing the one right way. It is designing alternatives and possibilities, and then selecting one of them. Usually the first idea is unlikely to be the best. That is why it is important to produce alternatives and possibilities.

5. You need to challenge existing elements

Everything needs to be challenged. Everything needs to justify its continued existence. Systems and operations have a natural tendency to grow even more complex and complicated. Things which were needed at one time may be no longer be needed, ie if something cannot be justified, get rid of it!

6. You need to be prepared to start over again

You need to be clear about what you are trying to do, and then set about designing a way to do it ‐ while ignoring the existing systems entirely. Usually it is perceived as easier to modify the existing processes or systems or structure. However, ignoring the existing setup results in the need to justify the benefits of a new system and to explain why modifications to the current system can never achieve the desired benefits.

7. You need to use concepts

Concepts, rather than details, are the way the human mind simplifies the world around us. These concepts are general, vague and blurry, but will allow movement forward to generate alternatives and possibilities, and enable participants to get to the detail level.

8. You may need to break things down into smaller units

In order to understand something and to make it simpler, you may need to break it down into smaller parts.

9. You need to be prepared to trade off other values for simplicity

Standard values such as perfection, comprehensiveness, etc may require the sacrifice or modification of some other values in order to obtain simplicity, ie this trade-off requires a clear sense of values/priorities

10. You need to know for whose sake the simplicity is being designed

Who is the simplicity being designed for, ie customers, operations, etc.? Who is to benefit from the simplification?

An example of simplicity is in the process of determining how much rocket fuel had been loaded. Some people had developed a complicated calculation; someone else suggested putting in a window so that they could see the level of fuel!!!!!!

(sources: Edward deBono, 1998; Edward deBono, 2005; Richard Branson, 2008

Communications Channels for Adopting an Innovation

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