Out of the Box

Do you want to innovate? Try something new? You surround yourself with a bunch of creative people, go offsite and have a brainstorming session. The ideas are abundant and with so many it seems a shame that we can only try a few due to budget or time constraints.

The cold hard truth is that is not the way successful innovation works. In fact, most of the time it is downright unsuccessful; innovation does not work as a result of thinking out of the box, it works because how closely it is to thinking in the box.

There is hardly a methodology that has done more research on Innovation than the TRIZ method or Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. These numbers have not been updated in the 20 years which to me seems a shame with the amount of Innovation that is occurring. However, I still think we might be surprised on how closely these numbers are still represented. From John Terninko’s book, Systematic Innovation: An Introduction to TRIZ.

Table 5 Levels of Innovation

  1. Apparent or Conventional Solution: 32% – Solution by methods well known within specialty
  2. Small Invention Inside Paradigm: 45% – Improvement of an existing system, usually with some compromise
  3. Substantial Invention Inside Technology: 18% – Essential improvement of existing system
  4. Invention Outside Technology: 4% – New generation of design using sciences technology
  5. Discovery: 1 % – Major discovery and new science

If You Want to Think Out of the Box, You Have to Have a Box

…TRIZ believes that 95% of inventive problems have already been solved in a different field. Or in my words, “This is not new Stuff.” Summarizing from the TRIZ Journal archives:

  1. Problems and solutions are repeated across industries and sciences. The classification of the contradictions in each problem predicts the creative solutions to that problem.
  2. Patterns of technical evolution are repeated across industries and sciences.
  3. Creative innovations use scientific effects outside the field where they were developed.

~ Curated by Pass The Idea (

Source: extract from


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