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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Chase

Innovate Within Bounds

Updated: Nov 10, 2023


Traditionally, innovation has been associated with thinking outside the box. By innovative leaders taking a different path and guiding individuals and teams to find their creative sweet spot within pre defined boundaries is also a powerful tool. SIT (Systematic Inventive Thinking) provides a structured framework that has been driving creativity and problem-solving for decades in the food and engineering industries and now within the highly regulated field of life sciences.


To support innovative life sciences leaders, let's dive deeper into the five remarkable techniques of SIT. All of these examples align with the principles of SIT.


Subtraction: Reimagine your products or services by removing an essential component. An insulin pump without the tubes such as an Omnipod® . This innovation integrates the functionality of the PDM (personal diabetes manager)directly into the pod itself. This eliminates the inconvenience and potential complications associated with a tube connection. In the consumer world think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Multiplication: Enhance functionality by adding existing components to your systems. Biotechnology companies have applied multiplication by designing multi-enzyme catalysts. Novozymes, a leader in industrial enzymes, has developed enzyme cocktails with multiple functions for use in biofuel production and other applications. In the consumer world think double glazing.

Task Unification: Boosts the utility of your offerings by assigning new tasks. Smartwatches, originally designed for telling time and perhaps basic notifications, have been transformed into comprehensive health monitoring devices. They now serve the additional task of monitoring various health metrics and providing insights into the wearer's well-being. In the consumer world mobile phones with camera.

Attribute Dependency: Modify variables within your systems to achieve efficiency and innovation. AI-powered insulin delivery systems can analyze a patient's blood glucose levels and other relevant data, adjusting insulin dosages in response to fluctuations and individual needs. This innovation can contribute to better glycemic control and improved quality of life for people with diabetes. In the consumer world think happy hours in bars.

Division: Deconstruct and rearrange to create something entirely new. MRI scans are essential for diagnosing various medical conditions, but traditional infusion pumps are not MRI-compatible due to concerns about interference with the MRI machine. To address this challenge, engineers and medical device manufacturers applied the "division" technique by creating MRI-compatible infusion pumps:

  1. Divide the Pump: Divide the traditional infusion pump into two separate components: the pump itself and the control unit.

  2. Redesign the Control Unit: The control unit, which contains electronic components, is redesigned to ensure it produces no electromagnetic interference that could disrupt the MRI machine.

  3. Use Non-Ferrous Materials: Non-ferrous materials, such as non-magnetic metals and plastics, are used in the construction of both the pump and the control unit to eliminate magnetic susceptibility. In the consumer world think glasses with detachable frames which you can swap with different lenses.

Thinking inside the box is all about solving problems with what you have SIT encourages you to challenge assumptions and explore innovative solutions while respecting your constraints. It does not have to be only used used for product design but has many applications for example in advertising, designing workshops and presentations.


Remember, it's not always about thinking outside the box; it's about finding ingenious solutions within the boundaries you've set. As organizations adapt and thrive in an ever-evolving landscape, creative thinking within defined limits becomes invaluable.


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