Systematic inventive thinking (SIT) produces an incredible outcome when used for idea generation and problem solving. Leading companies such as Tesla, Amazon and Apple use this strategy to outperform their competition on a consistent basis.

Systematic inventive thinking is changing the way companies create value. Over the last decade, this new thinking methodology has been allowing creativity to take the center stage.

You might be thinking, why not look to my customers for guidance?

Despite what experts have to say, corporate decisions should not be based solely on customer feedback. After all, customers are just looking for an incredible product or service at a great price.

A recent publication by Jacob Goldenberg at Harvard Business Review states: “Marketers will tell you that the best sources of new product ideas are customers, both current and potential. However, we’re seeing that customers lack the imagination to envision innovative products that address their emerging, or even existing needs or desires.” 

So, in order to be truly original and innovative, you’ll have to brainstorm without any restraints. The more ideas on the table, the better. This unique approach helps companies break away from their normal patterns of thinking and come up with great ideas. These ideas are then translated into actions, which then lead to results.

When these ideas are applied to the SIT Formula, amazing things happen.

This formula contains five thinking techniques that marketers have used for many years. It attends to all aspects of an organization’s innovation strategy – from acquiring skills all the way to piloting and deploying new business models.

Before we go over these techniques, let’s cover the correlation between idea generation and problem solving. 

The Correlation Between Idea Generation and Problem Solving

systematic inventive thinking

Einstein famously said, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.

Idea generation is a procedure by which a company identifies solutions for any number of difficult challenges.

This is the time to brainstorm with no restraint – make analogies to things that have nothing to do with your product, services or processes; stretch as far as possible to reach a breakthrough idea.

Your next breakthrough idea is right around the corner. Click To Tweet

When you come up with many ideas at once, it’s impossible not to get closer to the solution you are looking for. However, it’s crucial that you follow the appropriate guidelines to ensure that you don’t waste your time generating useless information.

Whenever you are facing uncertainty, it’s essential that you have a structured thinking process to guide you. The most successful companies in the world follow three rules when brainstorming:

#1: They work inside a familiar niche.

#2: They generate solutions that are independent of any specific problem.

#3: They use the five techniques of SIT.

Out of the three rules above, Rule #3 is the most important. These techniques are embedded in the products and services you see every day. With their help, you will be able to generate ideas that directly reflect your organization’s goals.

The five techniques are:

  1. Subtraction
  2. Task Unification
  3. Multiplication
  4. Division
  5. Attribute Dependency

With these techniques, there is plenty of room for improvisation. But, as with any art or form, you need to master the basics first. In this article, we will cover how these five techniques may be applied to systematic inventive thinking.

1. Subtraction

systematic inventive thinking: Subtraction

Innovative products and services tend to, with time, lose a certain function.  This could be an element of the system that seemed essential for identifying a new value or benefit.

Here, you are not creating new ideas. Instead, you are working backward to imagine what benefits there are in using only the existing features.

Here is a five-step formula to apply subtraction to systematic inventive learning:

1. List Out Every Internal Component of Your Product or Service

If you are working with a product, list every single component, and its function. If you are working with a service, make note of every function it performs.

2. Imagine What Would Happen if You Removed One

You could either remove an entire component or remove a piece. Either way, think about what would happen if it was no longer there.

3. Visualize the Result – Even if It Seems Strange

It’s always a good idea to visualize the final result. Even if it seems far fetched, it never hurts to see your product or service from a different angle.

4. What are the Potential Benefits and Added Value?

Who would want this new product or service, and how could it help them? What are the benefits of this revised concept?

5. Is this New Idea Feasible?

Can you actually create this new product or service – why or why not? Is there any way to refine the idea to make it more adaptable?

By applying this five-step formula to your business, you will be able to innovate on demand. New ideas, solutions, and theories will overflow your meeting room.

Application of Subtraction: Amazon

A company that took advantage of subtraction to reap great rewards is Amazon.

Amazon is a household name in today’s world of online shopping, and its innovative efforts do not stop short of brick-and-mortar retail.

In 2018, Amazon unveiled one of its newest creations called Amazon Go. Using its walkout technology, Amazon removed the need for checkout lines and registers from the shopping experience.

With the help of the app, buyers can walk into the store, select the items they want off the shelf, and walk out. The app then detects that the items were purchased, and charges the appropriate Amazon account – it’s that simple.

This is a perfect example of subtraction. By eliminating much of the staff needed to operate a store, Amazon is able to keep its costs low and stay ahead of its competitors.

According to Macrotrends, Amazon’s stock price grew by 28% in 2018 –  outperforming the S&P 500 index by more than 35%.

But it doesn’t stop there. Amazon took this a step further and applied the task unification technique to systematic inventive thinking. They collected the data from their customers’ shopping habits so they could provide them with better suggestions.

The benefit? Both parties are happy, and Amazon takes off as a leader in the online marketplace. 

2. Task Unification

systematic inventive thinking: Task Unification

Task unification means to assign a new or additional task to an existing resource.

It is a collaborative process that requires contributions from your entire team. After all, in order to create new functions for a product or service, you need to have a strong understanding of it.  

There are five critical success factors to be mindful of when applying task unification to systematic inventive thinking:

Identify the Obvious Components

Look at the components that are so obvious that they are easily missed. Seek help from otherscolleagues, experts, or customersto identify these components. 

Don’t Play it Too Safe

Believe it or not, non-intuitive components are much more likely to lead to creative breakthroughs. If your ideas sound absolutely insane, you’re on the right track.

Don’t Confuse Task Aggregation with Assigning New Tasks

If your idea presents a new function for your product or service, it’s likely not task unification. Instead, look for creative ways to assign an additional task to an existing function.

Task unification takes multitasking to a whole new level. However, correct use is essential for getting results. By being aware of these common misconceptions, you will set yourself and your team up for success. 

The Power of Task Unification

Cultures that are rich in resources tend to adopt the task unification mindset. For example, Samsung took its new smart TV one step further by integrating two new features into it.

Picture this: you’ve just moved into your new home and you’re trying to decorate it. Do you want to have trendy art, family photos, or a flat-screen TV on your wall?

Samsung’s new QLED TV’s are designed to end that dilemma. The TV now serves two purposes: to provide endless entertainment and personalized decor.

Samsung applied task unification to systematic inventive thinking, in order to overcome functional fixedness.

Solving a problem doesn't always mean you must come up with something new. Click To Tweet 

But it doesn’t stop there: Samsung took this a step further by implementing this technique into nearly all of its products. They now offer a washing machine with a built-in sink, a dryer with a two-part lid, and a dishwasher with an auto-clean function.

This strategy begins with developing a strong understanding of your product or service. From there, you link different functions to provide ideal solutions based on the needs of real people.

Here, Samsung took the initiative to simplify regular processes and improve their customer’s experience. Leading companies like Samsung tend to be conscious of these opportunities, which is why they rise as industry leaders. 

3. Multiplication

systematic inventive thinking: Multiplication

Many innovative products and services tend to have components copied but changed in some way. Usually, these changes are made to remove or edit features that present themselves to be unnecessary or redundant.

Think about it – if you received feedback from your customers that a feature of your product is great, wouldn’t it make sense to invest time into making it even better?

You could take what you have, copy it, and change it in a counterintuitive way. Not only would this minimize the risks of making a bad decision; it would reduce costs, improve speed, and energize employees.

For this reason, multiplication is widely used by many businesses today. When this technique is applied to systematic inventive thinking, the results are spectacular.

Multiply your potentials with your plans and it will be equal to your purpose of existence”. – Israelmore Ayivor

A common misconception that many brands face today is that they believe they should focus on improving the weak aspects of their products or services.

The problem is, by the time they end up solving the problem, they’re already one step behind the curve.

Emerging as an industry leader is not a matter of luck – in fact, it’s far from it. Rather, it’s a scientific approach used by business owners. With a strong understanding of their brand and a deep understanding of their customers’  unmet needs, business owners know what direction to take their business in.

Multiplication in Action: Apple Inc.

Think about multiplication as a jazz piece. Halfway through the song, a musician usually takes center stage and performs a solo.

This is exactly what Apple did for the launch of the iPhone 11 Pro.

The debate between which cell phone brand has the best camera has been ongoing for many years. Each generation seems to have a new feature that helps it stand out from the existing competition.

Apple took this one step further by introducing three rear-facing cameras onto their flagship phone. This shook the entire industry and left their competition in the dust.

According to Newsroom, Apple saw its highest quarterly revenue ever after the announcement of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models.

You might be thinking to yourself, what if no one liked the new iPhone design? How would Apple be able to recover?

Because Apple applied multiplication to systematic inventive thinking, there was little to no risk involved. Since their last generation iPhone had an incredible camera, all they had to do was add a new twist onto an existing technology. The secret is to encourage multiple perspectives during the idea generation process. After all, there is no such thing as a bad idea.

4. Division


Division works by breaking a product into its different components and then rearranging them. This is a powerful technique in systematic inventive learning because it forces you to create new configurations of your product. 

It’s likely that you don’t envision smashing your product into many pieces. After all, you worked hard to create it.

But what if you had to build it back up from the ground? What will likely happen is you will see new ways to use the product that you would have missed, had you try to think of it on your own.

There are three ways to apply the division technique:

1. Functionality

What are the specific functions of your product? How can you simplify these functions by breaking them down further?

2. Physicality

If your product takes up a lot of space, what can you adjust to make it more compact?   

3. Preservability

Is it possible to divide your product into a smaller version of itself, where each smaller unit would still preserve the characteristics of the whole product? 

Division helps to size your biggest challenges down, e so you can see innovative opportunities.

Once you have envisioned a new product, all you need to do is to identify the potential benefits and it’s target market. From there, you modify, adapt and improve the concept.

Digging Deeper with Division

The concept of division starts with something you know and turns it into something new. In the end, we are left with a sense of surprise.

It turns out that some of the most revolutionary ideas are right below our noses. All we need to do is find them.

 The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” ― Rob Siltanen 

Take product functionality, for example. A water sports company took the controls of a speed boat and mounted it onto a water skier. Now, the water skier controls the movements of the boat without needing a separate driver.

Next, let’s look at product physicality. Think about a GoPro camera and its ability to capture video from a variety of different points. Whether it be on a selfie-stick or mounted to the side of your car, it makes for an excellent experience.

Finally, there is product preservability: picture a baking company creating cupcakes that mimic the characteristics of normal-sized cakes. This way, customers can experience their inventions without committing to purchasing an entire cake.

By applying division to systematic inventive thinking, these new ideas emerged into the market. Thanks to this, each one of these companies has found massive success.

These examples just touch the surface of how division can be applied to your products.

5. Attribute Dependency

Attribute Dependency

The final technique to apply to systematic inventive thinking is attribute dependency.

The basic principle underlying this tool is creating dependencies between variables of a product. Here, we are working with variables rather than components.

A variable is anything that has the potential to create values. For example, what are the characteristics that can change within your product?

Furthermore, variables can be internal or external. The internal variables are those that can be controlled by the manufacturer when the external variables are out of their control.

There are three ways to implement attribute dependency:

1. Passive

As the name implies, nothing has to happen for the dependency to take place. There doesn’t need to be an external element or action applied.

2. Active

An active dependency is one that requires an external factor in order for an event to take place. This can come in many different shapes and forms.

3. Automatic

These dependencies are unique because they happen automatically. The product is designed to change on its own in response to a third-party element.

How do you know which type of dependency is best to use on your product? It all comes down to which one will be the most convenient for your customers.

Additionally, you should consider if you want your customers to have the ability to create the change for themselves. Whichever you choose, you will create a fantastic experience for your target audience.

Why Attribute Dependency?

With four other simpler techniques to apply to systematic inventive thinking, why should you look to attribute dependency?

The truth is, this is one of the areas of innovation businesses overlook, and yet one with the most potential to create the next breakthrough.

Take Sun Master for example. They are a professional and reliable solar LED light manufacturer. During the day, the light captures and stores energy from the sun; at night these lights illuminate your garden.

According to Markets and Markets, the solar lighting system market is projected to reach 10.8 Billion dollars by 2024.

This is an example of an automatic dependency.

Here, the consumer doesn’t have to do anything. There are no batteries required, no chords, and no troublesome set-up. The lights are designed to turn on when the solar panels detect that the sun is setting.  

Products with an attribute dependency present themselves as being smart. They know when it’s appropriate to change in response to some other variable – whether it be internal, external or automatic. This creates a simple yet engaging experience for the customer. 

Apply SIT Today

Systematic inventive thinking relies on three key ideas.

The first idea is that you must work within a niche you are familiar with. Secondly, you must generate solutions that are independent of any problem. And, finally, you must apply the five techniques of SIT.

When used correctly, these techniques have the ability to transform the way your business generates ideas. With it, you will be able to create an endless stream of consumable products and services.

SIT is one of the many strategies taught at Dragon 100, an executive club comprised of 7 and 8- figure entrepreneurs.

If you want to learn more strategies that will help you to get where you want to go, click here to enter the Dragon 100 path.