What is Systematic Inventive Thinking?

systematic inventive thinking

Genrich Altshuller, a Russian engineer, analyzed hundreds and thousands of successful inventions and products in the market in the 1900s. What did his analysis uncover? His analysis uncovered the blueprint behind a majority of the successful innovations and products around us. He uncovered a set of patterns that constituted the creation of successful innovation. His 40 principles that governed the blueprint behind these innovations are part of an innovation tool called TRIZ. Five of the most essential patterns of the 40 tools of TRIZ are the five patterns of Systematic Inventive Thinking. By harnessing Systematic Inventive Thinking, we are now not only able to analyze the innovations around us, but also innovate products and solutions of our own.


For years it was believed that successful companies, products, and ideas were random. Either by brainstorming or an aha! moment. Neither is the case. Though there may be exceptions, where people have a sudden revelation that turns into a successful product (not sure when this has ever really happened though), however, for the majority of the entrepreneurs and engineers who create something, it involves a lot of trial and error, experimentation, and failures. Proven innovations follow a process, and though three will be failures along the way, if you stick to the process, there will be a number of successes too. Stay true to the process.

systematic inventive thinking

Systematic Inventive Thinking follows the idea that innovation is a process: a set of five processes (the subtraction technique, the division technique, the multiplication technique, the task unification technique, and the attribute dependency technique). By utilizing these five processes, it allows individuals and organizations to tap into their innovative potential and create innovative products and services on demand. Here are brief summaries of each of the five techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking.

The Subtraction Technique

The subtraction technique is the removal of a component from a product, process, or service. Though it may seem like we are downgrading our product, there are a surprisingly new number of benefits associated with subtraction. To name a few, the IPod Touch and the initial idea behind Amazon are result of the subtraction technique (most likely an indirect result, but still a result).

The Division Technique

Next, the division technique. The division technique involves physically dividing and rearranging a component from a product, process, or service. Divide and conquer. The one example that always comes to mind is the remote control for televisions. The buttons found on the remote control were once on the television sets themselves. By diving out the buttons from a traditional television, and rearranging them elsewhere, this created the remote control.

The Multiplication Technique

The multiplication technique involves making a copy, or copies, of a component, of a product, process, or service. A few examples of this innovation technique that come to mind include bicycle training wheels, dual screen tablets and computers, and revolving doors.

The Task Unification Technique

The task unification technique involves assigning a new or additional task to a product, process, or service. This technique is one of my favorite techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking. Task Unification is behind the reason why outside software developers can publish apps to the App Store, and why Apple does not product a majority of those apps (besides the standard IMessage, FaceTime, etc).

The Attribute Dependency Technique

Lastly, the attribute dependency technique involves looking for dependencies and relationships between a product, process or service’s variables or attributes. This technique is definitely one of the more challenging techniques to fully grasp, which is why I chose to leave it out of the Innovation for Students free online course. Regardless, it is an awesome, detailed innovation technique that is actually rather popular within companies.

Start using Systematic Inventive Thinking in your life

Start to look around. You may start noticing some products that have followed one of these five techniques outlined above. What’s great about these innovation techniques is that you can learn them. You can learn them right now. For free. Visit Plinnovate and get started learning this proven innovation method to harness your innovative and creative potential, and start finding solutions you would’ve never found before. Happy innovating!

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