Posts Tagged ‘Elements’

17. Example: Learning a Skill

17.Example: Learning a Skill

Who wants to learn a skill? What desires are they trying to satisfy by performing the task of learning?

  • Pass a test
  • Perform a task
  • Make a decision
  • Learn something else
  • Teach it
  • Entertainment
  • Share an experience

Look at the different reasons for learning a skill. Are the reasons satisfied in the same way? Can we group them into functionally similar reasons? Are the differences qualitative or quantitative?

There appear to be two different types of reasons to learn a skill. The first is practical and the second is social.

The practical reasons for learning a skill are different from each other based on level of skill needed when complete. They can be ranked in order:

  1. Able to make a decision
  2. Perform a task
  3. Pass a test
  4. Learn another skill
  5. Teach the subject

Even though the skill levels needed are ranked, there isn't a clear unit of measure so we can't quantitatively measure the differences. The difference is by qualitative type.

The social reasons, Entertainment and Share an Experience, are satisfied in different ways from the practical reasons. Even though learning the skill is desirable it is not essential to being entertained or sharing an experience. Enjoying the process is an essential Outcome for the social reasons. Enjoyment is beneficial but not required for the purely practical reasons to learn a skill so there is an overlap.

Learning a Skill Outcome Diagram

Drawing 1: Learning a Skill Outcome Diagram

Since there are two different sets of Outcomes lets start with the practical reasons. Draw an Outcome diagram for the task. These Outcomes define successfully performing the task.

The Outcomes for Learning a Skill do not include all related Outcomes. Motivation to learn and perception of the process of learning are factors that should be considered but are not essential to the core set of Outcomes.

The Outcome diagram defines the Objects. The next step is to draw a Function diagram for the process of achieving the Outcomes. The last step of a Function diagram is achieving an Outcome.

Learn a Skill Function DiagramDrawing 2: Learning a Skill Function Diagram

Consider that you might need a Function diagram for each Outcome.


Expand the Elements for each of the Outcomes and each of the Functions. Element expansion is a form of structured idea generation. It is not free-form. The goal is to list items for each of the 7 Elements, which are related to the Outcomes and Functions. This focuses your work and keeps it organized for finding patterns later.

Since many people are accustomed to brainstorming it can be helpful to temporarily skip the Outcome and Function diagram, and start by listing Elements. This can help people clarify their thinking before drawing the Function diagram.

You will need some knowledge of the subject matter you are innovating to be able to identify Elements. If you are innovating an engine you will need to understand some amount of mechanics.

Gather new informationLearn Function Diagram: Gather New Information


  • Learner
  • Information

Begin and End States

There are several combinations of these begin and End States. Depending on the purpose what is desired, undesired, and neutral changes.

  • No information is gathered
  • Related information is gathered
  • Some of information is gathered
  • All the information is gathered
  • Extra information is gathered, not relevant
  • Incorrect information is gathered, not factual


Read, Watch, Hear, Touch, Do it, Taste, Smell, Imagine, Measure


Books, magazines, websites, radio, TV, video, pictures, audio recordings, lectures, demonstrations, games, models, activities, samples, measurement devices, tests.


Purpose, demographics, health of learner, other knowledge, past experiences, distractions, time available, comfort, emotions, format of information, language, physical environment, quality of information (incomplete or incorrect)


Medium of information, learner, other knowledge, emotions, physical environment, lecturer, friends, all of the Conditions.

Interpret informationLearn Function Diagram: Interpret Information


  • Learner
  • Information
  • Meaning

Begin and End States

  • No understanding
  • Incorrect interpretation, misunderstood
  • Partially understood
  • Fully understood


Compare & contrast, Questions and answers, Thought experiment


Logic, restating in own words, lists, diagrams, conversations, email, text chat, phone, if...then statements, language, symbols


Purpose, demographics, health of learner, other knowledge, past experiences, distractions, time available, comfort, emotions, format of information, language


All the Conditions, learner, emotions, physical environment, teacher, friends

PracticeLearn Function Diagram: Practice


  • Learner
  • Skill level

Begin and End States

  • No skill
  • Some skill
  • Full skill


Play, simulation, exercise, do the real thing, mental rehearsal


Games, simulation, real thing, simplified version of real thing, slow motion, weights, puzzles


Difficulty of task, environment, health of learner


Objective measures of ability: time to complete an exercise, complexity of exercise completed, percentage of accurate results; measure of the difficulty of a type of practice: number of variables, amount of time given to complete task, number of mistakes allowed.

Achieve AbilityLearn Function Diagram: Achieve Ability

The final step in the Function diagram is satisfying both of the Outcomes of the Outcome diagram. Achieve Ability is complete when the learner can perform the task and does not need assistance.


  • Skill Level
  • Learner

Begin and End States

There might not be a quantitative measure for ability but it can be broken down into four functionally distinct levels.

  • No ability
  • Some ability
  • Adequate ability
  • Maximum ability


Do a task

Complete a test


Test, Questions, Measurement, Score, Mirror, Camera


Time available, level of other abilities, number of skills being learned, wording of the test, time between receiving feedback


Feedback from others, results of previous attempts


Learner is involved in every Outcome in Learning a Skill; so, it makes sense to start finding Alternatives for Learner.

When I first tried to apply the Directions to Learner I was confused. I had difficulty figuring out what was a direct Learner versus a Stable Learner. The problem was I needed to chunk down Learner into Person and Learning. A learner is a person who is learning. Once I chunked down into the two parts it was easy to figure out. Chunking up and down is a useful approach to remember.

Person Alternatives







Single person instructed

Instructed once


Prohibited Class or individual

Learns how to find person who can do it


Individual discovers skill

One person always learns

Single learns until a point

Single person learns existing information

Individual returns to learning

Skills restored for an individual


Many people instructed

Instructed many times

Many observers

Learn to find many people who can do it

Many prohibited people

Group teaches

Group makes discovery

Many people always learn

Many people learn until a point

Many people learn existing information

Learn existing information as a group

Group returns to learning

Many people return to learning

Skills are restored for many people

Everyone instructed

Continually instructed, never independent

Everyone learns by observing

Everyone prohibited

Everyone teaches

Everyone discovers for themselves

Everyone always learns

Everyone learns until a point then stops

Everyone learns existing information

Everyone returns to learning

No one returns to learning

Learning Alternatives







Commanded one time

Commanded for one task

Commanded for one part of task

Individual doing other activity

Doing one other activity

Doing other activity once


Replace incorrect


Already learned

Apply existing knowledge

Teach someone else

Skill becomes permanent

Skill becomes permanent after single time

Part of skill becomes permanent

Regain single skill

Regain skill once

Single reminder


Commanded for part of task

Commanded many times

Doing many other activities

Doing pieces of other activities

Replace many incorrect

Many steps to replace incorrect

Already know some of skill

Already know many skills

Teach many people

Teach many skills

Many skills become permanent

Skill becomes permanent after many times

Skills become permanent in multiple parts

Regain many skills

Regain skill many times

Many reminders

Commanded for everything

Commanded for entire task

Commanded until remembered

Doing every other activity

Doing any other activity

Do nothing, passive learning

Continuously replace incorrect

Replace all incorrect

Already know everything

Already know nothing

Already know anything

Teach everything

All skills become permanent

No skills become permanent

Any skill becomes permanent

Entire skill becomes permanent

Continually regaining skill

Everyone regaining skills

Regain any skill

Reminders for everything

Always reminded

Information Alternatives







Next step

Information to remember

One more detail

Custom information


Grade / performance

What not to do, contrast

How to find information

Reason for skill



Single fact


One gains acceptance

Remembered after first time

Reminder, flash card

Information changes once

One part changes



Multiple steps

Some steps

Many new things

Many parts are new

More information many things

Many theories

Information about the information

Multiple ways to find the information

Partially correct

Multiple grades

Multiple reminders

Partial reminder

Multiple facts

Repeated information

Partial history

Told many times before remembered

Many things remembered

Accepted as fact for many Conditions

Many parts change

Changes many times

Many parts uncertain

All steps

Always new information

No steps

Applies to everyone

All information about the information

Totally false


Continual grading

Never reminded

Always reminding

Always same information

Complete history

All information remembered


Becomes considered law

Information always changing



Meaning Alternatives







Plain single meaning

Meaningful in one Condition

Increase meaning

Told meaning

Correct meaning

Indirect meaning


Opposite / Sarcasm

One thing unknown

Confused about one thing

Same meaning

Doesn't change for one Condition

One meaning stays the same

Takes time to understand

Situational meaning

Meaning changes once

Understands after one error


Plain meaning multiple Conditions

Increases meaning multiple Conditions

Many things increase meaning

Multiple implications

Contradictory meanings

Partially wrong meaning

Wrong meaning many things

Same meaning many Conditions

Many meaning stay the same

Parts of meaning stay the same

Partially understood

Multiple exposures to understand

Multiple parts before understanding

Part of information before understanding

Corrects meaning many times/ways

Meaning changes many Conditions

Parts change meaning

No meaning

Always increasing meaning

Increase meaning everything

Unknown meaning

Meaning is hidden

Totally confused

Totally wrong

Same meaning all situations

Always understood

Understood by everyone

Needs all to understand

Understands everything

Always relearn

Meaning constantly changing

Everything changes meaning

Always becomes clear again

Skill Level Alternatives

Skill Level






Skill level improves once

One part of skill improves

Skill decreases

Other skill change

Task becomes easier

One part of task becomes harder (exercise)

Single skill level stays the same

Skill same in one situation

One skill increases to point (learn once)

Skill increases to a point for one Condition

Skill level fluctuates once

One skill level fluctuates


Many skills improve

Skill improves many times

Skill partially improves

Many other skills change

Skill decreases many times

Parts of task become harder

Parts of task become easier

Partial skill level stays the same

Multiple skill levels stay the same

Skill same in many situations

Multiple skill levels increase to point

Skill plateaus multiple times

Skill level fluctuates many times

Many skill levels fluctuate

Skill level always improves

Completely loses skill

Improves all other skills

Task eliminated

Skill level never changes

Skill same in all situations

Maximum skill level achieved

All skills increased to a point

Become expert in all aspects

Skill level never consistent

Continuous practice needed

Gather Information Alternatives

Gather information






Do it, experience, see yourself

Read, told, watch video, theory

Fixed belief, one thing, one time

Consistent once

Confirm belief once

Single change or difference

Average one variable


Repeat experience

Experience many things directly

Many indirect sources

Indirectly experience many things


Fixed belief, many things

Consistent many times

Confirm belief many times

Confirm many beliefs

Many changes or differences

Average many variables

Moving average

Experience everything

Experience anything

No direct experience

Believes everything, never changes

Confirm all beliefs

All differences

Rate of change

Practice Alternatives







Real thing once

Imagine, simulation

One type of practice

Single Test



Real thing many times

Parts of real

Simulate multiple aspects

Do same thing many times

Repeat different parts

Multiple tests

Occasionally different


Always real

Any real

Simulate all aspects

Same thing every time


Continually testing

Test everything

Constantly changing

Achieve Ability Alternatives

Achieve ability






Do it once

First try

Simulation once

Lose ability once

Complete practice once

Test completed once



Done many times

Do pieces

Multiple simulations

Lose many abilities

Complete practice multiple times

Multiple tests completed

Many re-certifications

Done all aspects

All aspects simulated

Any aspect simulated

Lose all ability

Lose any ability

Complete all practice

All tests completed

Perfect score on test

Test before each time

Chapter 16 Chapter 18

14. Multiplying Alternatives

735 Focused Ideas

14. Multiplying Alternatives

When you have Elements for all the Outcomes you want to work on, it's time to multiply Alternatives. For problem solving projects describe Alternatives for Elements until you find a suitable solution. For innovation projects describe at least one of each of the 15 Alternatives for each element. This will generate 105 ideas for each Outcome. Since most scenarios have approximately 7 Outcomes you will have approximately 735 focused ideas organized into categories by Outcomes, Elements, and Alternatives. This will help you develop strategies.

735 Focused IdeasIllustration 53: 735 Focused Ideas

Each of the 105 innovation combinations for an Outcome are a type. There can be many different specific innovations for each type. The type is a description of an approach to achieving the Outcome. There can be many specific ways that fit the description.

Many of the Alternatives will have existing products or services. If you find an Alternative that has not been used it is a potential disruptive breakthrough innovation. The description of the other breakthroughs exist with Alternatives that were used in the past but not currently used. Newer technology can make those Alternative approaches achieve better results than current approaches.

Start Multiplying Alternatives by selecting from the list of Actions then describe an example for each of the 15 Alternatives. To help you get started find the box that an existing product fits such as Single Direct, then describe Multiple Direct and Continuous Direct for that product.

As you describe Alternatives you may find boxes that you can't think of examples to match the descriptions. Do not expect to be able to find examples for each box; in fact you want to find boxes that don't have examples. The empty boxes are the future innovations. Describe what should be in those boxes. The description will guide your innovations.

Direct Alternatives are usually the most obvious approach. Those Alternatives directly change the State of the Object. One example of a Single Direct is doing an Action to the Object once. Similarly if the Action can be performed in a single step, it is a Single. Multiple steps or being able to do it more than once is a multiple Action. Continuous is any, all, or none. Being able to do the Action an unlimited number of times is continuous. Being able to perform the Action in a smooth application instead of many steps is continuous. For cookies, that might mean an oven with a conveyor belt instead of cooking in batches.







to Stable



Example: Cookie Size

Size and shape are related Objects. Many different Actions and Tools can be used to change the size or shape of a cookie.



Bite once, bite one direction

Single cut (noun), perform cut (verb) once

Mold one shape or size, mold used one (disposable)

Measure one cookie at a time, measure a single size, measure in one step, measure one material


Bite multiple times, bite more than one direction

Multiple cuts, perform cut multiple times

Mold multiple shapes or sizes, mold used multiple times

Measure multiple cookies at a time, measure multiple sizes, measure in multiple steps, measure multiple materials


Never bite, bite any direction, bite all directions

Cuts all (powder, liquid), perform cut unlimited times

Mold any shape or size, mold used multiple times

Measure any number of cookies at a time, measure all the cookies from a batch at a time, continuously measure (flow measurement, measure throughout process), measure any size, measure any material, measure all materials



Not bite (completely fits in mouth, one cookie, one eater or type of eater), Bite different item, Cookie used to bite

Not cut (only weaken), Puncture, Cookie cuts something.

Create shape without molding, Dough applied to outside of something to create shape. Mouth is mold, forms to hand (squeeze), Cookie molds something else

Don't measure, measure effect instead of cookie (displacement of liquid or gas)


Not bite multiple cookies (very small put many in mouth at once)

Many perforations, many thin spots to ease breaking

Create many shapes without a mold. Apply dough to outside of multiple Objects to create shape. Applied to outside in multiple ways.

Measure multiple other things, use cookie to do measurement


Never bite, cookie is soft enough to eat without biting regardless of size.

Cut: Cookie cuts anything

Mold: Cookie dough sticks to outside of any shape

Measure: Never measure because you know it is correct, statistical process control (SPC)

Keep StableKeep Stable


Keep one cookie the correct size, packaging prevents breakage

Keep rest of cookie together when biting off a piece, doesn't crumble or crack.

Keep the cuts the correct size

Mold, stays correct size and shape

Measure, measure doesn't change


Keep many cookies the correct size, packaging prevents breakage for many cookies, or many Conditions.

Keep cookies separate, many cookies.

Keep many cuts the correct size. Keep cookie the correct size or shape after multiple cuts.

Mold stays the correct size and shape many times.

Measure stays the same many times. Many measurements don't change.


All the cookies are the correct size or shape.

All the cookies are kept separated.

Every cut is correct. Cuts are always correct.

Mold lasts forever. Mold works for any type of cookie.

Measurement continuous adjusted to stay correct.

Make StableMake Stable


Cookies become correct size. Shrink as they cool.

Cookie becomes shape of the package.

As the cookie cooks it becomes the correct shape.


Cookies can become many sizes. Able to select the size to which the cookie shrinks when it cools.

Cookies form to packages with many different shapes.

Many different shaped molds that cookies become the shape of as they cook.

Several different shaped nozzles on a tube of pre-made cookie dough.


Always becomes correct size.

All the cookies become the correct size or shape.

Cookies can become any shape. 3D printer makes nozzles of any shape for the tube of pre-made cookie dough.

Return to StableReturn to Stable


Mold can be repaired one time.

Single size or shape can change and return to correct size or shape.


Mold can be repaired many times.

Cookie can change size many times and return to correct size.


Mold can always be repaired.

Cookie can be shaped any number of times.


1. Select which can be done with the Single Alternative.


2. Which Scale best describes using different materials for parts of the product to reduce cost?


3. Which Scale best describes creating a higher priced one of a kind product?


4. Which Scale best describes increasing reliability by covering the entire area?


5. Which Scale best describes making a product cheaper by making it in one step?


6. Which Scale best describes making a product easier to build by using more than one part?


7. Which Scale best describes creating a higher priced product that is pure, nothing undesirable?


8. Which Direction best describes making a bolt that is too big fit by changing the hole?


Question 1 of 8

Chapter 13 Chapter 15

13. Elements

13. Elements

In the bicycle example on page 91, we broke down the bicycle into components, then each component into categories of materials, shapes, sizes, etc. That helped us increase our choices but it didn't really focus our thoughts very well. We just ended up with a long list of options. We need to define the correct dimensions so that we cover the full range.

How can we use the technique of primary elements for innovation?

You've seen the 15 Alternatives, which are arranged into Scale and Direction. And you've seen how to convert subjective desires into objective Outcomes. Applying the 15 Alternatives directly to Outcomes is not enough structure. If we chunk down Outcomes into the 7 Elements, we have exactly what we need to describe every innovation for a specific Scenario.

ElementsIllustration 50: 7 Elements of an Outcome

ObjectElements: Objects

Object is the property or event of the Outcome. The Object is what makes the Outcome objective. Objects are nouns. Innovation can be achieved by using non-obvious Objects. For instance if the problem is heat you might focus on the shape since Objects with more surface area dissipate heat better than more regular shaped Objects. Similarly by changing the color an Object might absorb less heat.

Predictive Innovation website resources section has an extensive list of scientific properties and the units of measurement.

Begin StateElements: Begin State

The Begin State is the State or quality that exists before you start. This is what you are either trying to change or keep. States are adjectives describing the Object. States can be described with a number and unit, or a descriptive word such as blue, harder, taller, or solid. State can also be an event recognized as occurring or not occurring.

End StateElements: End State

The End State is the result of the Action for the individual Outcome. It's important to categorize End States as: desired, undesired, or neutral. When listing End States make sure to think of States for all three categories. Great innovations are available from preventing undesired results as well as making desired results.

ActionElements: Actions

Actions cause the State of an Object. The Action is the “how” you achieve the goal. The Action causes the State to change or stay the same. Actions are verbs.

Examples of Actions are: cut, join, separate, divide, mix, sort, order, filter, blend, melt, freeze, thaw, or heat.

When listing Actions think of the first 3 Direction Alternatives as plus, minus, and equals. Cutting might be considered a plus since it makes more pieces, gluing together makes less pieces, and turning the Object around leaves the number of pieces the same.

In addition to common verbs there are hundreds of scientific effects that can be used to perform Actions.

Visit the resources section of Predictive Innovation website to see an extensive list of verbs and scientific effects to help you think of Actions.

ToolsElements: Tools

Tool is directly used to help perform the Action. A Tool can be a physical item or a process. Algebra and language are Tools. A Tool interacts with the Object. If the Action is cut, the Tool might be a: saw, knife, torch, scissors, or laser. Each of those Tools can be used to perform the Action of cutting.

ConditionsElements: Conditions

Conditions are any State or quality that effects achieving the Outcome. Conditions affect but are not directly related to the Outcome. The age of the tea leaves or the pH of the water could affect the result of brewing but isn't directly related to brewing. Wet pavement or riding on sand affects a bicycles ability to move and stop.

ResourcesElements: Resources

A Resource is anything available in the environment of the Scenario that can be used to help achieve the result. Resources are not just materials. Information, people, or other components are all possible Resources. When brewing tea, being able to measure the age of tea leaves is a Resource. A chart of times to brew different blends at different temperatures is another Resource. A spoon is a Resource that can be used to stir the tea and better brew the tea. Gravity is another very useful Resource. Resources are potential Tools. It's up to you to find uses for available Resources.

Potential Resources

Element Expansion

Element expansion is the process of breaking down the Outcomes into the 7 Elements. This is where you begin to find all the innovations. Each Outcome has at least one of each of the 7 Elements.

You need to identify the Outcome you will change to solve the problem or find innovations. For problems there is usually a dilemma. A dilemma is when improving one desired Outcome results in worsening another desired Outcome. You can select either Outcome of a dilemma to focus your work. For innovation, focus on one Outcome at a time.

If you are having trouble drawing an Outcome diagram, it is sometimes useful to start by listing Elements.

When you are first learning to draw Outcome diagrams or when facilitating other people, it can be easier to list Objects, States, and Action then reorganize these into concise Outcomes. Many people are accustomed to brainstorming and will want to use a more free form process to get started.

You can keep the task relatively focused by directing efforts towards the scenario and listing meaningful Objects, States, Actions, and Conditions. This will often help you clarify your thoughts. This is also a good way to capture ideas for solutions for later consideration.

Until you've properly defined the Outcomes you can't evaluate any idea. This is why people put so much emphasis on not judging ideas during a brainstorming session and saying, “there is no such thing as a bad idea.” There clearly are bad ideas and it is very important to judge ideas before investing any time or money. Until you have objective criteria you would only be guessing if you judged the ideas. If you are listing Elements to help you define Outcomes just record all free form ideas because there is no point in overlooking the obvious ideas.

 Focus on one Outcome at a time

Once you have drawn an Outcome diagram, select the Outcome you want to change then begin by listing Objects for that Outcome. Next list the begin and End States for the Object making sure to note desired, undesired, and neutral States.

Now choose one Object and the States that apply. Look at each Begin State and list Actions that will cause the End States. For problem solving you will often find solutions at this point. For innovation make a note of Actions that seem particularly promising but continue with the process so you won't miss potentially better ideas or complimentary approaches that will help build a strategy for entire product families.

Once you have Actions listed for the States you can list Tools that help perform those Actions.

Finally list Conditions and Resources related to the Action. Review Tools and Actions as you add Conditions and Resources.

Summary of Element Expansion

  1. Select an Outcome to improve.
  2. Choose an Object.
  3. List begin and End States for the Object, noting desired, undesired, a neutral States.
  4. List Actions to cause each Begin State to become an End State.
  5. List Tools for each Action.
  6. List Conditions affecting the performance of the Action.
  7. List Resources that could be used to perform the Action.

Element Example: Cookies

There are 4 main Outcomes and 4 sub-Outcomes in Illustration 51: Outcome Diagram for Cookies. The first step for innovation is to select an Outcome to improve. Lets choose Correct Size. This Outcome has two sub-Outcomes, eaten with hands and single serving. The sub-Outcomes provide extra restrictions that we must work within.

 Cookie Outcome Diagram

Illustration 51: Outcome Diagram for Cookies

Cookies can be given as gifts, looked at, sold for a profit, or eaten. We have to consider the scenario of how we are using cookies to properly think of Outcomes. If we think about cookies as food we can draw a very simple diagram with only 4 Outcomes. All of the Outcomes of a cookie must come together for it to be eaten and enjoyed thus satisfying the hunger of the person who eats it.

 Cookie Function Diagram

Illustration 52: Outcome Diagram for Eating Cookies

While we are expanding the Outcomes of cookies consider that each Outcome fits into the scenario of eating cookies. The correct size, correct texture, correct flavor, and correct temperature combine to make the cookie available, and enjoyably eaten.

Choose ObjectElements: Objects

Once you have selected the Outcomes, the next step is to choose an Object. What are the Objects of the Correct Size Outcome?

  • width of cookie
  • height of cookie
  • length of cookie
  • weight of cookie
  • shape of the cookie

These are the obvious Objects but there is also:

  • hands
  • mouth
  • packaging

Coming up with the lists of Elements is where you can use your imagination. Chunking can be a very useful technique for listing Elements.

Remember to consider the less obvious Elements. Cookies made for adults could be different sizes than cookies made for children. Also cookies might not be made for people at all so there are many other ways to look at this Outcome.

Define Desired End StatesElements: End State

The shape of the cookie is affected by each individual size. We need to consider all of the sizes together because combined sizes makes the shape. Changing one of the sizes without considering the other sizes could adversely alter the shape.

A cookie that is too wide won't fit into your mouth because it hits the sides of your mouth. A flat round or flat square cookie could be too wide to eat. It could also be too wide to hold in your hands. If the cookie was soft and too wide it might droop over the sides of your hand. That problem often happens with slices of pizza.

A cookie with a height that is too much won't fit in your mouth because you can't open your mouth enough.

A cookie that is too long won't fit in your mouth when you close it, plus it could sag around your hands like a slice of pizza.

It is unlikely that a cookie would be too heavy to eat but the weight might effect serving sizes and a cookie which is too light might be considered undesirable.

States can be desirable, undesirable, or neutral. There are four ways a State can be desirable, undesirable, or neutral:

  • too much
  • too little
  • matching
  • not matching

The Begin States and End States for cookies sizes are similar. The goal is for any undesirable Begin State to be a desirable End State. It is not important to list all the possible States, just the relevant States.




  • Cookie width is too much
  • Cookie width is too small
  • Cookie height is too large
  • Cookie height is too small
  • Cookie length is too large
  • Cookie length is too small
  • Modifiable
  • liquid or gel
  • Separate ingredients
  • Correct size for hands
  • Correct size for mouth
  • Long and narrow
  • Small round disc
  • Small flat square
  • Small ball
  • Small cube

Correct width, correct height, and correct length are the desired States. The correct width, height and length will vary depending on each other. A cookie can have a larger height if the width is not large. The overall combination of shape and size result in the cookie being the desired correct size or an undesired or neutral size. The correct size is one that allows the cookie to be picked up with your hands, put in your mouth and eaten.

If the cookie is the wrong size for hands or mouth but could be easily modified that is a neutral State. An example is a cookie that can be easily broken in to pieces that are the correct size.

List ActionsElements: Actions

What are the Actions to make the cookie the correct size? The correct size for the mouth is different than the correct size for the hand. An obvious Action for making a cookie the correct size for the mouth is biting it. The cookie still needs to be the correct size for biting and must be the correct size for the hands. The various shapes of a cookie can result from different Actions.

Chocolate chip cookies are made into flat discs by measuring an amount of dough and baking it. The heat causes the dough to spread and form the shape. Sugar cookies are made into fancy shapes like hearts and stars by using a mold with the dough. Soft cookies could also be cut into shapes after they are baked. Many manufactured cookies are molded to have thin spots making them easier to break into smaller pieces. Cylindrical cookies can be molded, rolled, or folded before baking or in the middle of the process.

Look at each Begin State and each desired or neutral End State then list all the Actions that can result in a desired or neutral End State.

  • Measure
  • Mold
  • Cut
  • Fold
  • Break
  • Roll
  • Squeeze
  • Bite
  • Soak

Measuring, molding, or cutting the dough can make the correct size and shape. Breaking, biting, and cutting can make a baked cookie the correct size and shape. Notice that we just introduced another State, baked and dough before baked.

So, we find that there are other States such as before the cookie is baked and after. Those States aren't part of the overall Outcome of Cookie, those are intermediary States related to the Action of making cookies.

Remember that Outcome Diagrams focus on States. Function Diagrams focus on Actions. Eventually you will want to create Function Diagrams for each Action. If you discover new information while listing Actions record it for later use.

Resist jumping into designing a solution at this stage. You will find many more options which might be more effective and less costly. Since the Element Expansion is quick and easy don't skip it. Complete the full process before deciding which solution you will use. A little thought can save a lot of work.

Look at the Action soak. Dipping a cookie in milk or tea is a popular way to eat cookies. A soft cookie is easier to eat. The size and shape of the cookie affects the ability to soak it. Long cylindrical cookies are much easier to soak than spherical balls. The long cylindrical cookie is too long to put completely in your mouth but it is perfect for dipping which then makes it easier to bite and eat. Soaking also points out other Objects such as the cup and liquid you are soaking the cookie in.

As we are listing Actions we discovered more Objects and States and related Outcomes. We also found the connection to Function Diagrams for baking cookies. That is exactly what we want to do. Don't worry about finding all the Elements at each stage. Write down all the information you gather and continue with the process. This may involve going back to previous steps and adding or changing what you had before. As you better understand the scenario you will be better able to describe it and thus all the innovations. The systematic approach will help you reveal all the options.

List ToolsElements: Tools

Tools are physical and non-physical items that are directly used in performing Actions. These are usually quite easy to list. For example, a cookie cutter helps you cut or mold a cookie into the correct shape and size.

Action Tool









Cup, spoon, scale

Mold, pan, nozzle

Knife, saw, burner, scissors, die


Edge, scored line

Board, sheet

Press, mold, rolling pin

Teeth, jaw

Cup, spoon

List ConditionsElements: Conditions

Conditions are any State that may affect the ability to produce the desired State or changes which State is desired. The ingredients of a cookie affect that ability to make it the correct size and shape. Temperature could also affect the size and shape. If the cookie is frozen it might make it more or less difficult to bite or break into pieces that fit in your mouth.

Where and when are very common Conditions. Eating cookies for a snack at work is different from being at home which is different from being at a party. Who is eating the cookie changes what size is correct. A child's hands and mouth are different from an adult.

  • Temperature
  • Ingredients
  • Moisture
  • Size of mouth
  • Size of hands
  • Ingredients
  • Where eaten
  • When eaten
  • Who you are eating with

List ResourcesElements: Resources

A Resource is anything available in the environment of the scenario that can help achieve the Outcome. The temperature could be useful for cutting or breaking a cookie. Knowing the temperature could be helpful for preparing and serving cookies. Knowing the moisture levels could also be helpful.

  • Serving plate
  • Wrapper, container
  • Dishes
  • Cup
  • Temperature of the cookie
  • Temperature of hands, mouth, room

Next Step

Just listing Elements does not find all the options. The first pass gives you something to work with. Multiplying Alternatives for each of the Elements shows you the ideas you did not find.


Please go to 13. Elements to view the test
Chapter 12 Chapter 14

6. Dimensions of Predictive Innovation

6. Dimensions of Predictive Innovation

There are 6 dimensions used in Predictive Innovation. Finding What, How, When, and Where primarily deal with 3 of these dimensions. Why and Who requires more depth of all 6 dimensions. The 6 dimensions are:
Dimensions of Predictive Innovation

  1. Actors – are people involved in making and using innovations
  2. Desires – are the focus of innovation
  3. Scenarios – are the boundaries of a set of desires
  4. Alternatives – the ways of satisfying desires
  5. Outcomes – are the objective criteria that defines satisfaction
  6. Elements – are the detailed parts of an Outcome



There are 8 types of Actors. Each Actor can be a single person or multiple people. There is always at least one person who is the User. Users are the central focus of innovation. If the users' desires are not satisfied innovation fails. The 8 types of Actors are:





Customers are divided into four distinct roles: Beneficiary, User, Buyer, and Payer. Roles can be performed by one or more people but someone performs each of the roles. The desires of the person acting in that role are different from the desires related to the other roles.

Users are people who use the product or service. There must be at least one User. Satisfying the desires of the User is essential to innovation. Examples of Users' desires are:

  • How well the product performs the task
  • Feelings related to using the product.

Beneficiaries experience the benefits of the product or service. In most cases the User and the Beneficiary are the same person but not always. Products used in performing a service have a different User than the Beneficiary.

Deciders make the decision to purchase the product or service. Examples of Deciders' desires are:

  • price
  • warranty
  • where to purchase the product

Payers supply the money or materials for the innovation. For consumer products the User, Buyer and Payer are often the same person. In business these are usually three different people. Examples of Payers' desires are:

  • Return on Investment
  • Total cost
  • Achieving a larger strategy

Provider is divided into four roles:

  • designer
  • builder
  • seller
  • communicator

Provider can be divided differently but these four provide a sufficiently accurate description to understand the process. Just like customers these could be a single person or multiple people. The provider could also be the same person as the customer and each of the roles could be shared by people acting in other roles. So the User could be Builder and the other 6 roles be someone else.

Designers convert desires into actionable designs. This frequently is more than one person. Examples of Designers' desires are:

  • Know criteria to satisfy desires of Actors
  • Access to technology
  • Interesting challenge

Builders convert design into real products. For services the builder does the work. Builders are often many different people. Examples of Builders' desires are:

  • Ease of production
  • Tools needed
  • Start up costs

Sellers deliver the product or service to the User. The Seller is involved in the purchase transaction. Examples of Sellers' desires are:

  • Size of market
  • Quantity discounts
  • Turn over
  • Profit margins
  • Hassles of delivering products or services

Communicator gathers information and translates between Actors. Examples of Communicators' desires are:

  • Know the desires of Actors
  • Able to reach other Actors
  • Accuracy of communication

Customers act as more than just Users. There are markets and innovations for each Actor in a Scenario. Innovation starts by satisfying Users.

Chapter 5 Chapter 7

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