Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Creative choices and decision trees

Here is a simple example which use three simple creativity rules to generate output from any decision tree. The rules are:

choice "In order to improve our {this} which of these should I do: {outputs+useful} avoiding:{outputs+harmful}?"

produces(, harmful) "Why is {destination} a difficult choice?"

produces(&a=*, &b=useful) produces(&a, &c=harmful) "Can I choose {&b} over {&c}?"

Below is a screenshot showing an example decision tree, and the output generated. While this is a simple example, we hope you can see how more complex decision trees, and your own creative rules could open up a raft of new applications for Southbeach Modeller.

Rules can be saved for use across any model, and invoked at any time by clicking on the check boxes on the left. Here, the user has clicked on the upper choice box, and selected extent: widest, to generate output from all nodes in the model. There are eight statements generated (which appear in the lower panel of Modeller):

1.   In order to improve our 'Business strategy' which of these should I do: 'Investing in the company, Acquiring another company' avoiding:'Cost cutting'?
2.   Can I choose 'Investing in the company' over 'Cost cutting'?
3.   Can I choose 'Acquiring another company' over 'Cost cutting'?
4.   In order to improve our 'Investment strategy' which of these should I do: 'Invest in Product X, Acquire new products to replace X' avoiding:'Divest business unit X'?
5.   Can I choose 'Invest in Product X' over 'Divest business unit X'?
6.   Can I choose 'Acquire new products to replace X' over 'Divest business unit X'?
7.   Why is 'Divest business unit X' a difficult choice?
8.   Why is 'Cost cutting' a difficult choice?

Do you see why? Look at the rules above and try to work it out. Click on the screen shot below:

Friday, 13 November 2009

Subprime creativity!

Window Pane models, like this, are effective as Southbeach models. In this case, the roles in the subprime crisis (homeowner, financial institutions, etc) are plotted against causes and enablers, effects and impacts and responses.

Using Southbeach rules (MyCreativity), it is possible to write stimulating questions that can help analyse the situation. For example:

* "Do the responses in the housing market: {@response+@housing_market} counteract effects occuring in the wider economy: {@effect_impact+@economy_markets}"

or this rule:

harmful+@effect_impact "What could {this} do to our response as viewed from the economy: {@response+@economy_markets}"

Clicking around the diagram generates statements using the words in the model.

Using this technique,  and different window pane models, it is possible to build up a set of 'best practices' for analysing and modeling many different types of situation. Typical window pane models could be as shown in the Quick Grids menu, or create your own by choosing separation axes and labels.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

User Defined Effects generating Creativity

Southbeach provides 'user defined' effects. These are different from effect labels.  On any Southbreach effect - e.g. produces - you can add a label to clarify or 'subtype' the effect. For example, you could label a produces effect as 'increases', or a destroys effect as 'degrades'. A user defined effect, by contrast, is a new effect ... something you feel does not exist in the standard Southbeach vocabulary and synonym tree. Moreover, it can generate unique 'creativity'.

Which of the user defined effects in the model below are NOT synonyms of Southbeach Notation 0.9 effects? Adds is contributes. Provides is produces ... but what about fulfills? Is that 'uses' or 'implements'? The only effect in the model (left) that is REALLY a new effect, is 'contains'. Containment, like other 'functional' modeling effects, is not provided in standard Southbeach notation. The reason is ... there are so many of them. The world is full of functional relationship, and less full of 'influence' relationships.

User defined effects, therefore, are very useful at adding 'functional' modeling to Southbeach. This capability, linked to MyCreativity rules, can be very powerful.

Since a MyCreativity rule can reference the label of any effect, it is possible to write rules that apply to functional models. For example:

@contains(, harmful) "Can we remove {to} from {from}? since it is harmful. Can we replace {to} with something else?"

Another example for this model might be:

@limits(, potential) "What do we need to do to maximise {to}?"

Monday, 9 November 2009

Triples and contradictions

Often in innovation and problem solving, it is necessary to consider two factors, in the context of a third. In Southbeach, this is called a 'triple'. It consists of two effects, anchored by a third factor. For example:

A produces useful B, but also harmful C
A produces useful B, but B goes onto produce harmful C
A is produced by useful B, and is also produced by harmful C

In TRIZ, some of these patterns are called 'contradictions', and the objective of problem solving is to break the contradiction. For example, how can we get useful output from a process, without producing harmful output at the same time? In Southbeach, due to the expanded semantics, wide range of effects, agent types and attibutes, triples take on a new significance. For example, the following situation could be modelled:

harmful process A is producing insufficiently a goal, at the same time, is being counteracted by a risk

Here are four common rules for matching situations like this. There are hundreds more possible to develop.


produces(&a=*, &b=useful) produces(&a, &c=harmful) "Find a way for {&a} to produce {&b} without producing {&c}"

produces(&b=useful, &a=*) produces(&c=harmful, &a) "Find a way to produce {&a} from {&b} alone, without requiring {&c}"

produces(&a=harmful, &b=harmful) produces(&b, &c=useful) "How can we complete {&b} so as to produce {&c} and avoid {&a}?"

produces(&a=*, &b=surplus) produces(&a, &c=insufficient) "If we avoided {&a} so as to produce less {&b} could we produce more {&c}?"

The output generated from the model fragments (using append mode in MyCreativity with 'laser' extent) is:

1. Find a way for [Burning fossil fuels] to produce [Cheap energy] without producing [Release of carbon dioxide]
2. How can we complete [Conversion to green energy resources] so as to produce [Sustainable energy policy] and avoid [Reliance on fossil fuels]?
3. Find a way to produce [Needed power] from [Green energy resources] alone, without requiring [Burning fossil fuels]
4. If we avoided [Reliance on burning fossil fuels] so as to produce less [Release of carbon dioxide] could we produce more [Green energy]?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Your Creativity

One of the reasons why MyCreativity is so powerful, is that there is no methodology built into the tool. All rules and phrases are provided by users, or supplied as libraries.

We were speaking with a BT business manager recently and asked them the type of questions they would ask about 'useful' things. To our surprise they suggested:

     How long will this continue to be useful?
     Is there a hidden cost in this?

By contrast, an innovation consultant, trained in innovation methods, would probably have said:

     Find a way to enhance or increase this.
     Do we need this in the system? (ideality)

We continuously find that consultants, analysts and engineers, working in very different fields, come up with very different questions, suggestions and directions to apply to their models. Taking the BT 'business' example above, it could be expressed in MyCreativity as:

useful "How long will {this} continue to be useful?"
useful "Is there a hidden cost in {this}?"

Applying this rule set to a typical business situation may produce the output:

How long will 'extending the product line' continue to be useful?
Is there a hidden cost in 'extending the product line'?

Applying the same rule set to the situation of pollution in Antartica arising from illegal shipping in the area, may produce:

How long will 'Enforcement of regulation and treaties' continue to be useful?
Is there a hidden cost in 'Enforcement of regulation and treaties'?

Same rules, different context. We recommend that whenever you develop rules for MyCreativity that you try them out on different models in different fields. It can be very revealing.

Root Cause Analysis

// Very simple root cause analysis rules

#root cause

* "What else produces {this}?"
* "What else does {this} produce?"
*(,) "What lies on the line? What does {from} produce that allows it to {effect} {to}"
*(,) "Other than {from}, is there another factor in the process of {this}?"
*(,) "Does the action of {this} produce anything else?"
*(,) "Are there any other effects of {this}?"

See this example, which pictorially illustrates the questions that the rules are generating. See how it matches the output generated.


//Use of useful resources
insufficient+useful "Could any of these useful resources: {useful} compensate for {this} being insufficient?"

potential+useful "Could any of these useful resources: {useful} help to bring about {this}?"

goal "Could any of these useful resources: {useful} help to achieve the goal: {this}?"

surplus+useful "Since we have surplus of useful resource {this}, could it be used to make up for insufficiency in {insufficient+useful} or to bring about {potential+useful}?"

dysfunctional+useful "Could any of these useful resources: {useful} fix {this} so that it performs its correct function?"

neutral "Could any of these useful resources: {useful} increase the usefulness of {this}?"


//An expansion of the simple 5Whys
//matching on agents
* "What proof do I have that this cause exists? (Is {this} concrete? Is {this} measurable?)"
* "What proof do I have that the cause: {this} could lead to the stated effect? (Am I merely asserting causation?)"
* "What proof do I have that this cause actually contributed to the system problem I am looking at? (Even given that it exists and could lead to this problem, how do I know {this} wasn't actually something else?)"
* "Is anything else needed, along with this cause, for the stated effect to occur? (Is {this} self-sufficient? Is something needed to help {this} along?)"
* "Can anything else, besides this cause, lead to the stated effect? (Are there alternative explanations to {this} that fit better? What other risks are there?)"

//matching on effects
*(,) "What proof do I have that this effect/process exists? (Is {this} concrete? Is the effect measurable?)"
*(,) "What proof do I have that this effect: {this} could lead to the stated outcome? (Am I merely asserting causation?)"
*(,) "What proof do I have that this effect actually contributed to the system problem I am looking at? (Even given that it exists and could lead to this problem, how do I know {this} wasn't actually something else?)"
*(,) "Is anything else needed, along with this effect, for the stated effect to occur? (Is {this} self-sufficient? Is something needed to help {this} along?)"
*(,) "Can anything else, besides this effect, lead to the stated effect? (Are there alternative explanations to {this} that fit better? What other risks are there?)"

5 Questions (Use of)

// Carl E. Gregory, The Management of Intelligence, McGraw Hill, 1967

#creativity.5questions (use of)
useful "Who uses {this}? Who could use {this}?"
useful "What is {this} used for? Could {this} be used for other purposes?"
useful "Why is {this} used? Could {this} be used for other reasons?"
useful "Where is {this} used? Where could {this} be used?"
useful "When is {this} used? When could {this} be used?"
useful "How is {this} used? Could {this} be used in other ways?"

harmful "Who avoids {this}? Who should avoid {this}?"
harmful "What harm results from {this}? Could {this} harm in other ways?"
harmful "Why is {this} harmful? Could {this} be turned to useful purpose?"
harmful "Where does the harm from {this} appear? Where could the harm from {this} be felt?"
harmful "When does {this} create harm? When could {this} create harm?"
harmful "How does {this} produce harm? Could {this} produce harm in other ways?"

neutral "Who should use {this}? Who may use {this}?"
neutral "What should {this} be used for? What could {this} be used for?"
neutral "Why should {this} be used? What reasons would drive use of {this}?"
neutral "Where should {this} be used? Where could {this} be used?"
neutral "When should {this} be used? When could {this} be used?"
neutral "How should {this} be used? Could {this} be used in other ways?"

Dialog Mapping

This screenshot illustrates a Dialog Mapping template, being used to guide a workshop. The rules that generated the output are included below:

// Dialog Mapping v0.1
// Build a dialog mapping application in Southbeach.
// Pros and cons can be represented as Useful and Harmful agents
// Questions can be represented as 'Issues' (synonym)
// Proposed solutions as 'Actions"
// Set defaults for the effects ContributesTo and DetractsFrom as they are relevant in this modeling context
// Use agent symbols for extra clarity, e.g. ?, +, -

* "What are the questions we need to ask about {this}?"
* "What ideas do we have around {this}?"
* "What the pros and cons of {this}?"

* "Ask all the key questions, e.g. what the key questions around {this}?"
* "Make the case for key ideas, e.g. what is the case for {this}?"
* "Make the case against key ideas, e.g. what is the case against {this}?"
* "Endorsements, e.g. who supports {this}?"
* "Validation of the criteria, e.g. what criteria apply to {this}?"
* "Making the decision, e.g. what decisions need to be taken in respect of {this}?"

action "What are the pros of {this}?"
action "What are the cons of {this}?"
action "What further ideas does {this} suggest?"

agent+harmful "What could prevent, eradicate or counteract {this}?"
agent+harmful "Does {this} have an upside (pro)?"

agent+useful "Does {this} have a downside (con)?"
agent+useful "Is {this} a real benefit?"

issue "Other than {action}, what further ideas does {this} suggest?"

* "Other than {issue}, what additional questions does {this} raise?"

useful+!goal "Is {this} a goal? - if not mark it as such"
harmful+!risk "Is {this} a risk? - if not mark it as such"

goal "What resources are required to achieve the goal {this}"
risk "What can we do to mitigate the risk of {this}"

* "What does {this} mean?"
* "What is {this}? Is {this} true?"
* "What should we do about {this}?"
* "How should we do it?"
* "What are the relevant criteria around {this}?"
* "What is the background to {this}?"
* "Who are the stakeholders of {this}?" question
* "Closed question:  Should we {this}?"
* "Open question:    What should we do? {this}?"

#dialog.pros and cons
useful "We have plenty of pros for {this} - are there harmful side effects? What are the downsides/cons?"
harmful "We have plenty of cons for {this} - are there useful side effects? What are the upsides/pros?"
useful "Is there a strong case for {this}?"
useful "Is it the right thing to do?"
useful "Do we have support for {this}?"
useful "How could the case for {this} be questioned?"
useful "What types of criticism could arise?"
useful "Who will object to {this} and why?"
useful "What's the defence against critisim of {this}?"
useful "Is there anything we have forgotten? Is there anything to add?"

* "What are the criteria around or for {this}?"
* "Other than {goal}: What other goals could {this} could us to achieve?"
* "What are the requirements?"
* "Does {this} require resources? What do we need?"
* "Does {this} imply constraints? How can we meet them?"

* "What does {this} mean?"

* "What is the backgroind to {this}?"
* "What is our context?"
* "Why are we doing {this}?"
* "Tell the story of {this}?"

* "Who are the stakeholders for {this}?"
* "Who cares about the outcomes of {this}"
* "Whose buy-in is critical for success?"
* "Who should the stakeholders be? shall we involve them"


#world of design
//From figure 1.5 p31 in Dialog Mapping

// Often, MyCreativity is used to build a checklist, and to associate different parts of the list with the
// relevant semantics in the model

harmful "What is needed?"
harmful "What is the problem?"
harmful "What do we want?"
harmful "What do they need?"
harmful "What are the goals?"
harmful "Who are the users?"
harmful "What are the criteria?"
harmful "What are the requirements?"

useful "What can be done?"
useful "What can we make?"
useful "What services can we provide?"
useful "What do we do best?"
useful "What is the implementation?"

TRIZ lists

//MyCreativity rules are a great way to keep checklists for creative thinking, problem solving and innovation
//Invoke them at any time during modelling

#triz.levels of invention

    * "Level 1 - Routine design problems solved by methods well known within the specialty. Usually no invention needed."
    * "Level 2 - Minor improvements to an existing system using methods known within the industry."
    * "Level 3 - Fundamental improvement to an existing system using methods known outside the industry."
    * "Level 4 - A new generation of a system that entails a new principle for performing the system's primary functions. Solutions are found more often in science than technology."
    * "Level 5 - A rare scientific discovery or pioneering invention of an essentially new system."

#triz.8 trends

"1. Completeness of parts of the engineering system. Every technical system consists of engine, transmission, limbs and controls. Evolution will take place to all these parts."
"2. Energy Conductivity of the system- The better the transfer of energy inside the system, the better the system."
"3. Harmony of the parts of the system- Better harmony in timing, frequency etc. improves performance of the system."
"4. Transition from Microlevel to Macrolevel which improves miniaturization."
"5. Dynamicsation - that moves the evolution from a rigid structure to a flexible one."
"6. Moving towards increasing ideality. Every stage of evolution will move closer to the ideal system."
"7. Moving from complecated system to simplified system."
"8. Elimination of redundant stages and Transition towards the super-system."

#triz.40 principles

" 1. Segmentation"
" 2. Extraction"
" 3. Local Quality"
" 4. Asymmetry"
" 5. Combination"
" 6. Universality"
" 7. Nesting"
" 8. Counterweight"
" 9. Prior Counteraction"
"10. Prior Action"
"11. Cushion in Advance"
"12. Equipotentiality"
"13. Inversion"
"14. Spheroidality"
"15. Dynamicity"
"16. Partial, overdone or excessive action"
"17. Moving to a new dimension"
"18. Mechanical vibration"
"19. Periodic action"
"20. Continuity of useful action"
"21. Rushing through"
"22. Convert harm into benefit"
"23. Feedback"
"24. Mediator"
"25. Self-service"
"26. Copying"
"27. Inexpensive short life"
"28. Replacement of a mechanical system"
"29. Use pneumatic or hydraulic systems"
"30. Flexible film or thin membranes"
"31. Use of porous materials"
"32. Changing the colour"
"33. Homogeneity"
"34. Rejecting and regenerating parts"
"35. Transforming physical or chemical states"
"36. Phase transition"
"37. Thermal expansion"
"38. Use strong oxidisers"
"39. Inert environment"
"40. Composite materials"

#triz.39 engineering parameters

"1. Weight of moving object"
"2. Weight of nonmoving object"
"3. Length of moving object"
"4. Length of nonmoving object"
"5. Area of moving object"
"6. Area of nonmoving object"
"7. Volume of moving object"
"8. Volume of nonmoving object"
"9. Speed"
"10. Force"
"11. Tension, pressure"
"12. Shape"
"13. Stability of object"
"14. Strength"
"15. Durability of moving object"
"16. Durability of nonmoving object"
"17. Temperature"
"18. Brightness"
"19. Energy spent by moving object"
"20. Energy spent by nonmoving object"
"21. Power"
"22. Waste of energy"
"23. Waste of substance"
"24. Loss of information"
"25. Waste of time"
"26. Amount of substance"
"27. Reliability"
"28. Accuracy of measurement"
"29. Accuracy of manufacturing"
"30. Harmful factors acting on object"
"31. Harmful side effects"
"32. Manufacturability"
"33. Convenience of use"
"34. Repairability"
"35. Adaptability"
"36. Complexity of device"
"37. Complexity of control"
"38. Level of automation"

Use in workshop

// It is sometimes useful to turn on simple rules in a workshop, to highlight the clicked on agent, or to
// ask questions pertinant to the objectives of the workshop

* "{this}"

#workshop.note taking
* "How important is {this}?"
* "What do I need to capture about {this}?"
* "What was just said about {this}?"

SWOT analysis

//SWOT version 0.1
//Use with SWOT grid (menu Insert - Quickgrids)

* "Strengths: {@strengths}"
* "Weaknesses: {@weaknesses}"
* "Opportunities: {@opportunities}"
* "Threats: {@threats}"

harmful "How can {this} prevent us meeting our goal(s) {goal}?"
useful "How can {this} be changed so as to help meet our goal(s) {goal}?"
goal "How could any of these factors: {harmful} jeopardise meeting the goal of {this}?"
* "What new strengths can be created from {this}?"
* "What new weaknesses does {this} expose?"
* "What new opportunities arise from {this}?"
* "What new threats does {this} create?"

@strengths "Is there a relationship between strength {this} and any of these opportunities: {@opportunities}?"

@strengths "Can we use strength {this} to counteract any of these weaknesses {@weaknesses}?"

@weaknesses "Is there a relationship between weakness {this} and any of these threats: {@threats}?"

@weaknesses "Are there any risks to our opportunities {@opportunities} that arise from weakness {this}?"

@threats "Are there any risks to our strengths {@strengths} that arise from threat {this}?"

@opportunities "How could threats such as {@threats} cause a problem to {this}?"

Here is an example of using these rules to analyse a SWOT chart:

Saturday, 7 November 2009


//Southbeach 09
//As you click around any model, this helps you learn the notation
//The Explain tab in Properties panel is also very useful



useful "{this} is useful"
harmful "{this} is harmful"
neutral "{this} is neutral (unknown, undecided)"

issue "{this} is an issue (a question)"
choice "{this} is a choice (a decision)"
action "{this} is an action (an intervention)"

insufficient "{this} is insufficient"
dysfunctional "{this} is dysfunctional"
potential "{this} is potential (unrealized)"
surplus "{this} is surplus"

goal "{this} is a goal"
risk "{this} is a risk"
focus "{this} is our focus"

process "{this} is a process"
service "{this} is a service"
capability "{this} is a capability"
function "{this} is a function"
quality "{this} is a quality"
thing "{this} is a thing"
resource "{this} is a resource"
event "{this} is an event"
idea "{this} is an idea"
trend "{this} is a trend"

// effects

produces (,) "{this}"
counteracts (,) "{this}"
creates (,) "{this}"
destroys (,) "{this}"
stores (,) "{this}"
consumes (,) "{this}"
opposed (,) "{this}"
is_a(,) "{this}"
causes (,) "{this}"
prevents (,) "{this}"
related (,) "{this}"
becomes (,) "{this}"
replaces (,) "{this}"
user_defined (,) "user defined effect: {this}"
implements (,) "{this}"
specifies (,) "{this}"
contributesto (,) "{this}"
detractsfrom (,) "{this}"
uses (,) "{this}"

useful(,) "It is useful that {this}"
harmful(,) "It is harmful that {this}"
neutral(,) "It is neutral that {this}"

insufficient(,) "{this} insufficiently"
dysfunctional(,) "{this} dysfunctionally"
potential(,) "{this} potentially"
excessive(,) "{this} excessively"
emphasis(,) "{this} is emphasized"
not(,) "{from} does not {effect} {to}"

necessary(,) "{from} is required/necessary to {effect} {to}"
inevitable(,) "{from} inevitably {effect} {to}"
delay(,) "{this} with a delay"
questionable(,) "it is questionable whether {this}"



* "Product (or Service)"
* "Place"
* "Price"
* "Promotion"


* "What does the customer want from {this}? What needs does it satisfy? What features does {this} have to meet these needs?"
* "Are there any features you've missed out from {this}?"
* "Are you including costly features of {this} that the customer won't actually use?"
* "How and where will the customer use {this}?"
* "What does {this} look like? How will customers experience {this}?"
* "What size(s), color(s), and so on, should {this} be?"
* "What is {this} to be called?"
* "How is {this} to be branded?"
* "How is {this} differentiated versus your competitors?"
* "What is the most {this} can cost to provide, and still be sold sufficiently profitably?"

* "Where do buyers look for {this} as a product or service?"
* "If they look in a store for {this}, what kind? A specialist boutique or in a supermarket, or both? Or online? Or direct, via a catalogue?"
* "How can you access the right distribution channels for {this}?"
* "To sell {this} do you need to use a sales force? Or attend trade fairs? Or make online submissions? Or send samples to catalogue companies?"
* "What do your competitors do to sell and promote {this}, and how can you learn from that and/or differentiate?"


    * "What is the value of {this} as a product or service to the buyer?"
    * "Are there established price points for products or services like {this}?"
    * "Is the customer price for {this} sensitive? Will a small decrease in price of {this} gain you extra market share? Or will a small increase be indiscernible, and so gain you extra profit margin?"
    * "What discounts on {this} should be offered to trade customers, or to other specific segments of your market?"
    * "How will your price for {this} compare with your competitors?"


    * "Where and when can you get across your marketing messages about {this} to your target market?"
    * "Will you reach your audience for {this} by advertising in the press, or on TV, or radio, or on billboards? By using direct marketing mailshot? Through PR? On the Internet?"
    * "When is the best time to promote {this}? Is there seasonality in the market for {this}? Are there any wider environmental issues around {this} that suggest or dictate the timing of your market launch, or the timing of subsequent promotions?"
    * "How do your competitors do their promotions for {this}? And how does that influence your choice of promotional activity?"

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Your First Creativity

useful "How can we increase {this}?"
harmful "How can we decrease {this}?"
produces(, harmful) "How can we prevent {source} from producing harmful {destination}?"
counteracts(, useful) "How can we prevent {source} from counteracting useful {destination}?"

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Introducing Southbeach | MyCreativity

Beyond Mind Maps and static diagrams. Southbeach | MyCreativity is the first interactive upgrade for the Southbeach Modeller. It brings models to life by activating agents and effects in the model to match rules that you define and which express Your Creativity. The output generated guides you in performing problem solving, innovation and other creative tasks.

Rules are written in a simple 'English like' language. Anyone can use MyCreativity - from school children to PhD scientists. Write rules that capture the way you work and make Southbeach Modeller emulate hundreds of creative and problem solving tools. Many of these applications will be well known creative people, innovators, problem solvers, engineers and consultants.

In this blog we'll be introducing you to the ideas behind Southbeach|MyCreativity. We will provide many examples for you to try. Since rules are simply text, you can copy them into the Modeller and adapt them to your purposes. Whether you are looking for a simple 'improvement' rule set, or a sophisticated 'problem solving method', this blog is where we will explain how. As you learn, you will grow your creativity and problem solving skills.