23. Glossary

23. Glossary

  • Action: One of the 7 Elements of an Outcome or Function. Action is performed to cause the End State.
  • Actor: A person who has desires needing innovation or who makes innovations. Actors are divided into two types Customer and Innovator, which are subdivided into User, Buyer, Payer, Communicator, Designer, Maker, and Seller.
  • Alternative: There are 15 Alternative approaches to achieve any Outcome or Function. The 15 Alternatives are organized into a 3x5 Grid with rows: Single, Multiple, and Continuous; and columns: Direct, Indirect, Keep Stable, Make Stable, and Return to Stable.
  • Assumption of Approach: Is assuming there are no other ways of achieving the result. Using the 15 Alternatives will help you avoid making Assumptions of Approach.
  • Assumption of Result: When the purpose is not accurately defined the undesired results are assumed to be the goal.
  • Begin State: One of the 7 Elements of an Outcome or Function. The State of the Object before the action occurs.
  • Buyer: The Actor who makes the decision to buy the product or service. A buyer can be one or more different people.
  • Communicator: The Actor who gathers and transmits the information of the desires of the customer and the benefits of the product or service. The communicator is the link between the innovator and customer.
  • Component: The physical parts or computer code used to make a product. Components are the real world items that perform the Functions of a product or service.
  • Condition: One of the 7 Elements of an Outcome or Function. Condition is a State that affects the results of the action trying to achieve the End State.
  • Continuous: One of the 3 scales of the Alternatives Grid. Continuous
  • Customer: The person who uses, buys, and pays for a product or service. A customer may be a single person or different people who perform the roles of Users, Buyer, and Payer.
  • Designer: The Actor who forms the information needed to build a product or perform a service.
  • Desire: Desires are what an Actor wants in a particular Scenario. Desires are subjective and usually emotionally based.
  • Dilemma: When there are two desired results and it seems that the only way to improve one is to make the other worse.
  • Dimension: A range of properties or categories for describing an object.
  • Direct: One of the 5 directions of the Alternatives Grid. Direct actions are performed on the Object and stop having effect when the action is stopped.
  • Direction: The 5 columns of the Alternatives Grid: Direct, Indirect, Keep Stable, Make Stable, and Return to Stable.
  • Element: The 7 fundamental parts of an Outcome or Function: Objects, Begin States, End States, Actions, Tools, Conditions, and Resources.
  • Emotional Assumption: Beliefs formed to confirm the emotional state.
  • End State: The State of the Object after the action has occurred.
  • Fractal: Infinite complexity resulting from repeated simple rules. Benoît Mandelbrot is the mathematician credited with describing the concept of a fractal. Fractal mathematics describe many natural structures and occurrences.
  • Function: Function is the change needed to achieve a desire. Innovations perform Functions to satisfy desires. A Function is similar to an Outcome but is focused on the action rather than the States.
  • Function Diagram: Graphical representation of the process of achieving a goal, also known as a flow chart.
  • Functional Distinction: A difference that affects the results generated or meaningfully alters the way something is done so as to make something possible that previously was not possible.
  • Generalization: Assuming something is the same or applies in different situations. Accurate generalizations are useful for finding similarities but inaccurate or excess generalizations can lead to incorrect conclusions.
  • Hyper Cube: An asymmetric multidimensional data set. Unlike a symmetric multidimensional data set where there is a value for each combination of dimensions, a hypercube might have combinations without data. An example is a hypercube of states, cities, and streets. Not all cities will have all the same street names.
  • Indirect: One of the directions of the Alternatives Grid. Indirect is the opposite or different approach. If the direct approach is adding more, indirect is removing to have less. If the direct is the material then the indirect is Tool or environment or something else that is not the direct approach.
  • Keep Stable: The direction of the Alternatives Grid that starts with the desired States and maintain that State.
  • Make Stable: The directions of the Alternatives Grid where the State starts in an undesired State then changed to become a stable desired State.
  • Maker: The Actor who makes the product or performs the service to achieve the innovation.
  • Morphological Analysis: A thinking system created by Fritz Zwicky, noted physicist, based on breaking a problem down into parts to allow you do find all the combinations.
  • Multidimensional: Having many dimensions. Physical objects have 3 spatial dimensions. Many other physical and non-physical dimensions can be used to describe an object such as color, weight, price, or age.
  • Multiple: One of the scales of the Alternatives Grid. Multiple is more than one and less than continuous or infinite. Multiple scale can be applied to anything.
  • NLP: Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a method for understanding and altering mental states and reactions.
  • Object: The focus of innovation or problem solving. The thing that needs to change to achieve the desired State.
  • Outcome: Objective State that results from a cause. Used to define the criteria for satisfying desires. Consists of Object, Begin States, End States, Actions, Tools, Conditions, and Resources. The fundamental building block of innovation.
  • Outcome Driven: Activities guided by achieving result. Focusing on the States needed to achieve the desired goal.
  • Outcome Diagram: Graphical representation of the criteria required to satisfy a desire.
  • Paradigm: A set of assumptions and beliefs that guide behavior.
  • Payer: The Actor who pays for or provides the materials and labor needed to make the innovation.
  • Purpose: The goal of using a product or service. What the user wants to achieve. Often expressed in subjective terms.
  • Resource: Anything in the environment that can be used to achieve the desired State.
  • Return to Stable: One of the five directions of the Alternatives Grid. Return to Stable allows the desired State to change but returns to the desired State.
  • Scale: The three rows of the 3x5 Alternatives Grid consisting of Single, Multiple, and Continuous. Each of the three scales is functionally distinct from the others.
  • Scenario: All the information relating to an Actor's particular set of desires. Described by an IF...THEN statement.
  • Single: One of the three scales of the Alternatives Grid. Single is described by words such as: one, first, only, and unique.
  • State: State is the value of an Object such as color, size, weight, or the occurrence of an event.
  • Tool: Tool is directly used to perform an Action.
  • User: User is the person who uses the product. User is one of the Actors that make up the three roles of a customer. Also see: Actor, payer, & buyer.
Chapter 22

22. Summary

22. Summary

Predictive Innovation completely changes what is possible for innovation and problem solving. The systematic approach helps you analyze anything, not just businesses. The more you practice Predictive Innovation the more uses you will find.

Hopefully the explanations and many examples in this book are enough for you to begin using Predictive Innovation on your own. Too help you gain a deeper understanding more quickly we offer training.

Being able to reliably predict customers emerging expectations and ways of satisfying those expectations opens up a wide variety of new business models and strategies.

Now that you know the basics of Predictive Innovation I recommend reading “The Mind of the Startup Strategist” by Len Kaplan, ISBN 978-0-557-04498-6. This book presents 12 strategies to maximize profits and minimize the risks facing any new product and especially a startup business. These strategies were developed using Predictive Innovation and can only be performed if you know how to use Predictive Innovation. This can be your secret advantage.

We constantly research new and better techniques and ways to apply Predictive Innovation. Sign up for a free newsletter to receive updates on the newest developments.

Next Step

  • Attend Predictive Innovation Workshop
Chapter 21 Glossary

10.Converting Desires into Outcomes

10.Converting Desires into Outcomes

Convert Desires into Outcomes

The core of innovation is satisfying desires. Desires are imprecise, subjective, personal, and frequently change. That makes desires unsuitable to directly use for innovation.

What a person wants changes based on the situation. Time, place, and activity all change the situation. Different people value different things in similar situations. Their desires can be satisfied differently from someone else's desires.

The subjective nature of desires makes it difficult for even customers to express their desires. Not being able to accurately express desires makes it hard for customers to ask for what they want or to explain why a product or service didn't satisfy their desires.

To solve the problem of subjective desires, we convert subjective desires into objective Outcomes. “Customers buy products and services to help them get jobs done.” (Ulwick, 2005, p.xvii) Put in the context of performing the job, the subjective desires can be expressed as objective Outcomes. Using the product produces an Outcome. When all the required Outcomes have a desired State, the job is done and the desire is satisfied.

Desires are always in the context of doing some “job”. We call that context the Scenario. The required Outcomes for a Scenario always remain the same. Customers can satisfy their desires in very different ways. They can choose different Scenarios to satisfy their desires, however, the Outcomes for each Scenario always remain the same. Some people relax from exercising while others find reading a book relaxing. The fact that a person chooses exercising or reading a book to relax does not change the basic requirements of those two very different activities.

Instead of trying to satisfy subjective desires, we allow the users to choose tasks that satisfy their desires and we satisfy the objective requirements of the task. Desires can be broken down into one or more objective Outcomes by describing the Scenario and each criteria needed to satisfy the desires of that Scenario. Illustration 43: Objective Criteria is a flowchart of how to describe a Scenario and Objective Criteria.

Outcome Railroad Diagram

An example of a Scenario is eating sticky peanut butter:

When eating peanut butter, I don't like peanut butter sticking to the roof of my mouth.

This describes a specific situation, “eating peanut butter.” It also gives a general description of the goal, “not sticking to the roof of my mouth.” Now lets write an Objective Outcome for that goal:

If I lick the roof of my mouth less than 3 licks I will be satisfied.

This is an observable and measurable criteria. The number of times the person licks can be observed and you can measure it by counting the number of licks. The objective criteria both allows you to measure the level of satisfaction and it describes exactly what needs to be done to satisfy the desire.

The criteria has three parts.

  • Object
  • Direction
  • State

One way to make peanut butter less sticky is to make it thin like a liquid. Runny peanut butter is not desirable so we should add another criteria.

When eating peanut butter, I don't like peanut butter sticking to the roof of my mouth.

If I lick the roof of my mouth less than 3 licks and
the peanut butter is more than as firm as jelly I will be satisfied.

This second criteria has a less scientific unit but it is something that can be measured. The customer might not be able to give exact units but the description is accurate enough for innovators to make a comparison or possibly calculate an actual measurement to use. In this case some measurement of viscosity is likely appropriate but all you need is a consistent criteria that can be observed and reliably communicated.

The stickiness of peanut butter is one aspect of eating peanut butter. The flavor, smell, and visual appearance are other factors that may need to be considered.

The criteria has two parts. The first part broadly but objectively describes the desire, “I don't like peanut butter sticking to the roof of my mouth.” The second part is the specific criterion for satisfying the desire. For problem solving you need the specific criterion; however, for innovation work you will mainly use the descriptive portion. This involves restating it in a more generalized form such as:

The peanut butter must have the correct texture.

When stated this way it is called an Outcome. Outcomes are composed of 7 Elements: Object, Begin States, End States, Actions, Tools, Conditions, and Resources. The Object is the feature that possesses a State that we are trying to optimize. In this example the Object is “texture.” The number of licks and the viscosity are States.

Emerging Expectations

Since innovation must satisfy unmet desires it's aiming at a continually moving target. The unmet desires of today will be the bare minimum requirements of tomorrow. Innovation must stay ahead of the desires so you have the time to design, develop, and deliver the innovation at the right moment.

The way to stay ahead is to focus on the criteria several steps ahead of the currently available products. You can do this by imagining the ideal product then looking backwards at each step needed to reach that ideal product from the current product.

Current Product to Ideal

Every Outcome has an ideal perfect criteria. As innovation occurs, each of the Outcomes moves closer to the Ideal State. The criterion needed for each successive innovation will be closer to that ideal until all the Outcomes achieve the theoretical maximum achievable state. This is why we don't specify the specific criterion for Outcomes when doing innovation. We are always trying to improve on the current level until we reach the ideal.

Do not get too far ahead of the market.

Each innovation improves one or more Outcomes enough to satisfy the emerging expectations. It is important to not try to offer products that are ahead of the market. Design products 2 steps ahead, develop products 1 step ahead, and deliver just-in-time. Products that are too far ahead will often require extra marketing expense to promote or won't have sufficiently advanced technology or infrastructure to affordably deliver the product.

To improve an Outcome an innovation must do one of the 3 things: maximize the State, minimize the State, or match a specific State. You will notice those are three of the five directions from the Alternatives Grid, Direct +, Indirect -, and Stable =.

You can improve an Outcome by increasing, decreasing, or equaling the desired result. For example, if the goal is to heat something, an innovation might be to decrease the time it takes to heat it. That would be minimizing the time.

Another way of improving an Outcome is to minimize, maximize, or match the range differences for the State. Instead of looking at a single State, a range of States might be desirable. When you select clothing you typically aren't maximizing or minimizing a look. You want clothing that can fit with a wide range of looks and work with other clothing you own. You want to maximize the range of your wardrobe.

Precision components must control size and position to fit together. However, it is not necessary to have the exact size and position as long as all the components are close to the same. The goal is to minimize the range of sizes and positions for all the components.

In the game of baseball the desired State is for the batter to hit the ball away from where players on the other team can catch it. This is a type of matching range. The criteria will use the words “not equals.”

More on Outcomes

Outcomes are not an exact science. It takes significant practice to become proficient at writing Outcomes.

To quickly gain expertise in writing Outcomes attend a Predictive Innovation® workshop. The Predictive Innovation® website has a list of self-paced, instructor led online, and in-person training options to help you gain expertise.

Chapter 9Chapter 11

7. Basics of Predictive Innovation

7. Basics of Predictive Innovation

Predictive Innovation makes it possible to accurately understand what customers desire now and in the future and how to overcome technical challenges to satisfying those desires. In this way it merges marketing, engineering and business strategy. The key is how it breaks down systems into easy to manage dimensions. All innovation and problem solving uses three specific dimensions:

  • Outcomes
  • 7-Elements
  • 15-Alternatives

By using these three specific dimensions, all the innovations for any product or service can be accurately described even if current technology can't build it.

Height, Width, Depth

Physical objects can be described using height, width, and depth. Similarly, systems can be described using the three dimensions: Outcomes, 7-Elements, and 15-Alternatives.


Outcome is the result of something happening. For Predictive Innovation we use a broader and more formal meaning.

Outcome is an observable state resulting from a cause.

Speed, color, or temperature are observable States. A State can also be an event that did or did not happen. The State of any Outcome is classified into one of three categories:

  • desired
  • undesired
  • neutral

Most systems can be described using between 5 and 9 Outcomes. If a system is complex it might require dividing the system into smaller sub-systems to be manageable.

When each of the Outcomes of a system are in the desired State the overall goal is achieved.

Predictive Innovation uses Outcome Diagrams to graphically represent the systems for satisfying people's desires. Outcome diagrams are a type of flow chart. Instead of showing steps in a process it displays all the conditions or “if” statements to achieve the overall goal. In words an Outcome diagram says:

If A and B and C Then my desires are satisfied for this Scenario.



Chapter 6Chapter 8