Innovating by Analogy
The other day I worked on recapping a video featuring Art Markman (@abmarkman), who's a Professor of Psychology and Marketing at The University of Texas at Austin and the author of Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate, and Get Things Done. (Disclaimer: I work for UT.)
In the video, Markman discusses analogy as a way to come up with good ideas. Obviously this is not a new approach, but it got me thinking that we should discuss this and draw expertise, ideas, and best practices from those Innocats who have tried it.
A paraphrase of what Markman said in the video and in a blog post on the subject is that the power of analogy is unleashed when you look at a problem in an abstract way. Then the connections you make between the two different domains of knowledge are high-level enough to work best. I think that when you can abstract to a higher level, you increase the possibility that the metaphor that you are essentially creating will be big enough for you to imagine the details clearly enough.
There's more on innovating by analogy in these posts:
- Biomimicry: A Tool for Innovation
- Analogies Are a Way for Breakthrough Innovation (discusses TRIZ)
- Analogy-Driven Innovation by Steve Shapiro
- Analogies Open a Huge Space of Solutions by Jose Baldaia (our own @jabaldaia!)
So, here are the questions:
- Do you use analogy as part of your innovation toolkit or process?
- In your opinion, what are the basic components of the process of innovating by analogy?
- Which components would you say are the most important?
- Do you think certain kinds of innovations lend themselves more to analogy (product, process, service, etc.)? If so, which do you think those would be?