Systematic Inventive Thinking: The Power of Thinking Inside the Box

Alessio Frateily

Hatched by Alessio Frateily

Apr 17, 2024

3 min read


Systematic Inventive Thinking: The Power of Thinking Inside the Box

When it comes to creativity, we often hear the advice to "think outside the box." It has become a common catchphrase in management consulting and business environments. However, what if innovation could be fostered by thinking inside the box instead? This is the premise behind Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT), a methodology that aims to unlock the power of creativity by utilizing the existing elements within a problem or product.

The origins of SIT can be traced back to the 1940s when a Russian engineer named Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues analyzed over 200,000 patents in search of the formula for innovation. Through their extensive research, they identified 40 common inventive principles such as "The Other Way Around," "Blessing in Disguise," and "Continuity of Useful Action." These principles were then combined to create a creativity equation known as the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, or TRIZ matrix.

What sets SIT apart as a powerful creativity tool is its emphasis on thinking inside the box. The "closed-world condition" principle of SIT requires individuals to only use elements that already exist within the product or problem, or in the immediate environment. This approach challenges the traditional notion of thinking outside the box and instead encourages the reorganization of existing elements.

Thinking inside the box necessitates a shift in mindset. It requires individuals to recognize that all the building blocks for innovation are right in front of them. The solution lies in rearranging and repurposing these existing elements to create something new and inventive.

By adopting the SIT methodology, individuals can tap into their creative potential and find innovative solutions to problems. Here are three actionable pieces of advice to help you incorporate SIT into your problem-solving process:

  • 1. Embrace Constraints: Instead of viewing constraints as limitations, see them as opportunities for creativity. Constraints force us to think more resourcefully and find unique ways to work within limitations. Use the existing elements and resources at your disposal to come up with innovative solutions.
  • 2. Break Down Assumptions: Challenge the assumptions you have about a problem or product. Often, we make assumptions based on our past experiences and knowledge. By questioning these assumptions, you can uncover new perspectives and possibilities. Look for alternative ways to approach the problem by reevaluating the existing elements.
  • 3. Combine and Rearrange: Experiment with combining and rearranging the existing elements to create new solutions. Look for connections and synergies between different elements. Sometimes, the most innovative ideas come from unexpected combinations. Be open to exploring various possibilities and don't be afraid to challenge conventional thinking.

In conclusion, Systematic Inventive Thinking offers a fresh approach to creativity by emphasizing the power of thinking inside the box. By utilizing the existing elements within a problem or product, individuals can find innovative solutions and foster a mindset of creativity. Embracing constraints, challenging assumptions, and experimenting with combinations and rearrangements are actionable steps that can help unlock your creative potential. So, the next time you're faced with a problem, remember to think inside the box and discover the endless possibilities that lie within.

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