The Closed World Principle
What are inventions? Ideas that surprise competitors and customers alike. Ideas that make us say: “Why didn’t we think of that before?” And in order for ideas to truly surprise us
because we didn’t think of them before, they must be connected to reality, to the world of the product, service or technology. In other words – to be “under our nose”.
This is where the most important principle of inventive thinking comes from –
the Closed World Principle. According to this principle, when you want to invent something, to innovate and surprise, the point of origin needs to be a mapping of the
Closed World – a collection of components that are already “under our nose” in the product, service or technology that we are focusing on, and in its immediate (and natural) environment. It is important to emphasize that the Closed World Principle contradicts the widespread assumption according to which we must conduct a
random stimulus (using things external to the closed world) in order to arrive at creative solutions.
For example – in order to develop new printers, the closed world principle says that it is preferable to focus on printer components (printer, paper tray, toner, etc.) and on the components in the printer’s immediate environment (paper, desk, hand, eye, computer, etc.). There is
no need or point to focus on things
external to the closed world (owls, swimming pools, cars, among others). Random stimulus perhaps sounds like something exciting (let’s focus on a
swimming pool and see what ideas for printer innovations we come up with), but in practice this is an ineffective thinking process that will prevent us from quickly and exhaustively attaining good and applicable solutions.
Therefore, when thinking about problem solving or about developing innovations, focus on the natural components in the closed world. These will yield results. It will be possible to develop the majority of future inventions by using changes we will make to them. The first step in inventive thinking is to map the components that exist in the closed world (for example – in a product and in its immediate environment), and the main variables related to these components. Afterwards we can make systematic changes to the components and to the variables that were mapped, using various thinking tools – as specified below
Developing innovations using the Closed World:
- First, choose a product, service or process.
- Second, write down all the internal components (within the manufacturer’s control). A variety of inventive thinking tools can be applied to these components, such as:
fragmentation. Various SCAMPER tools can also be applied to them, such as
- Third, write down the environmental components (that are not manufacturer dependent, but that are naturally found near the product, in its natural environment).
Environmental compatibility can be applied to these components, and they can be used to apply other thinking tools, such as
- Fourth, write down the important variables of the internal and external components that were previously mentioned. The
dimension addition and
modification thinking tools can be applied to these variables, among the rest.
- Information on Inventive Thinking workshops appears
(see page 10 at PDF booklet in Hebrew)
- For information on the SCAMPER workshop,
(see page 11 at PDF booklet in Hebrew)
- For articles on Systematic Innovation: