19. Combinations

19.Combinations

Combinations of Alternatives find the huge numbers of organized ideas suitable for continually lower risk and high return on investment innovations. A good place to start is by finding combinations between an Object and Action. This will reveal 225 combinations.

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A

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This quickly results in extremely large numbers of combinations. Using only one example for each of the 7 Elements for one Outcome results in 15 7 = 170,859,375 combinations. With 7 Outcomes the combinations increase to a minimum of 4.25 e+57. That is 425 followed by 55 zeros.

Emerging ExpectationsYou do not need to explore every combination. Products innovate if they satisfy the emerging expectations. Trying to build or sell products that are too far ahead of demand or technology will produce poor results. Planning 6 generations of products into the future is usually ideal for staying ahead of demand and not wasting effort on unrealistic concepts.

Since combinations are made by multiplying Outcomes, Elements, and Alternatives you can easily find a set of combinations when needed. All the combinations are neatly organized and easily accessible.

For new product innovation you want to make sure your design allows you to use as many of the most desirable combinations as possible. You can determine this without actually looking at every individual combination. Just looking at unusual combinations to test if those are possible can often be enough to make a decision about a design approach.

For more advanced analysis you can use sampling techniques, such as Taguchi1, to calculate with high confidence that your design covers the entire idea space.

Combinations are very helpful for problem solving. For problem solving you are not interested in all the combinations, just finding a good one as quickly as possible. If the Direct approach is not working you can look at the Indirect, Keep Stable, Make Stable, or Return to Stable. This format creates a checklist so you know you are actually thinking of new ideas and not just going in circles. You can also focus on one set of approaches at a time. This allows you to rapidly narrow your thinking to the most productive areas.

For problem solving you can often find a suitable solution without looking at all the 15 Alternatives. When you expanded the Elements you likely came up with many Actions, Tools, Conditions, and Resources for each Object. You can look at combinations between these. I find that looking at Conditions is an effective way to resolve troublesome dilemmas. You can do that by setting up a table of Actions and Conditions.

Consider that you listed 5 Actions and 5 Conditions. That is 25 combinations.

Action 1 Action 2 Action 3 Action 4 Action 5
Condition 1
Condition 2
Condition 3
Condition 4
Condition 5

You can do the same thing for all the Elements. You can also chunk down into each combination using Alternatives. So, in that there are 225 Alternatives for each Element combination. In this example of 5 Conditions and 5 Actions there are 5,625 Alternatives. You should not need to explore all of those to find a suitable solution.

Chapter 18 Chapter 20

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