Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT)

Years of experience in technology development and product design brought me to this simple set of tools to drive creativity and innovation. The basic idea is to leverage our innate tendencies to want to solve problems given what appears to be a tractable, solvable problem. The more knowledge and experience we have, the more likely we’ll see a problem as solvable with reasonable effort. The rest of the idea is to create problems that drive that little innate engine of creativity and that’s where SIT comes in. Lots of research backs it up as a sound simplification of the TRIZ methods upon which these five methods are based.

Below are brief descriptions of each method of SIT. I hope it’s helpful as a tool that anyone of any age can learn and use for a lifetime of creativity. At the very least, you’ll always have five things to try when solving a problem or trying to improve something.

MethodWhat Does It Mean?Example
SubtractionEliminate or reduce something on a product or serviceSmall earbud headphones were developed by reducing the size of large over-the-ear headphones. 
MultiplicationTaking a component/step and copying itBoyd (2015) described a time when he was working with young children and he asked them to take an ordinary object, like an umbrella, and use the Multiplication feature of SIT. The children came up with the idea to create an umbrella with two handles—one where the handle would normally be and the other on top of the umbrella. Their idea was to have a handle available for the times when the wind blew the umbrella inside out.  
DivisionDivide the product/service or one of its componentsControls from a boat were placed in the handle of a water ski rope, which allowed the water skier to control the boat without needing another person to pilot the boat. Boyd’s “Inside the Box” blog ( provides many examples of SIT. 
Task UnificationCombining functions into an existing component or stepInstead of having a food storage container and a cup, an example of Task Unification is creating a food storage cup that serves both as a cup and as a way to store food. 
Attribute DependencyCreation or removal of functions between products or process stepsAn example of Attribute Dependency provided by Boyd (2015) is a coat hanger that can be expanded different ways to fit the item it is used for. 
SIT Methods