Successful companies, such as Kraft, Shell, BASF, Nestle, Amdocs, Johnson & Johnson and many others employ the Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) methodology to solve key business challenges, achieve extraordinary results in product development, and rapidly innovate.

In this course, you will explore the SIT methodology, one of the most popular and well-known methodologies for innovation whose foundation evolves from a key principle that inventive solutions share common patterns. Further, you will learn how to extract these patterns using the five thinking tools: Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Task Unification and Attribute Dependency. Applying these five systematic thinking tools during the process of product development will help you identify new ideas, solutions, and products or define new needs for a particular product.

Systematic Inventive Thinking approach begins by studying an existing product and its features. The approach focuses on the notion that function follows form, where the likely success and production viability is evaluated after visualizing the improved product. By focusing on the core principles of SIT, you can significantly improve your product development pipeline and create a culture of innovation within your teams and organization.

Breakthrough Innovation - Certificate


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  • Interactive Lecture
    72Interactive Lectures
  • Practitioner’s Corner Videos
    14Practitioner’s Corner Videos
  • Real World Applications
  • Industry Examples
    13Industry Examples
  • Assignments


  • Bolivar Medical Group
  • Nestle Toll House cookies
  • Sony Walkman
  • Febreze Noticeables
  • Rubbermaid
  • Southwest Airlines
  • iPod Touch
  • Sedasys
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts


Being creative in product development means to go deep inside the environment of the product. Rather than think “outside of the box”, learn the highly efficient “inside the box” approach to creativity.

a) Creative Forum Videos

b) What is Creativity?

c) Where Do Ideas Come From?

Understand the different types of fixedness’ encountered when developing a product and how to overcome these biases. Learn about the cognitive bias that limits a person from considering other structures or forms than what they are used to. Explore how our minds block out new configurations of components or elements of our products. Learn about the cognitive bias which restricts a person to using a product only in the way it has been utilized traditionally. Understand the way our minds often keep us from seeing new uses for the components in our products.

a) Introduction to Fixedness

b) What is Structural Fixedness?

c) What is Functional Fixedness?

Examples discussed:

– NFL Vase Kicking

– Functional Fixedness

c) Resistance

– Resistance Examples

Learn new ways to transform the way your team conducts brainstorming sessions for product development. Learn to spur creative thinking by using constraints or boundary conditions related to resources, budgets or time. Understand how you can use constraints to spur creativity when developing products. Experiment with designing an ECG machine for an emerging market, to see the power of constraints in harnessing creative ideas. Learn how Ratan Tata was able to reverse engineer the world’s cheapest car.

a) Effective Innovation

b) Training

c) Team Sport Innovation

d) Innovation Team

e) Constraints: The Source of Creativity

f) Constraint Types

g) Emerging Markets Constraint

h) Designing an ECG Machine – Constraints Applied: ECG Machine

– Discussion: Constraints in Hospital Technology

i) Designing the TATA Nano – Constraints Applied: Tata Nano

– Engaging Leaders (CBS): Ratan Tata


a) Using Conceptual Thinking to Aid in Brainstorming: Chicken Eating Vegetables

b) Visualization Applied: Car Jack for Older People


Learn how truly creative ideas evolve from previous ideas and how we use the patterns we see to develop products that can help us stay ahead of the market. Further, learn a simple, systematic method for bringing interesting solutions out of ill-defined problems when developing products.

a) Senior Team

b) Innovation With Strategy

c) Get the Pipeline Moving

d) More Options

e) Winners or Losers

f) Templates: How Successful Ideas Evolve into Products

g) Turning Patterns Into Tools

h) Function Follow Form: Solving Ill-Defined Problems

i) Creating Serendipitous Mistakes

j) Function Follow Form: Working Process

k) Discussion: Finding Benefits in Strange Ideas


a) Finding the Pattern in Ads – Identify some of the deep structures and patterns that successful marketers use to get their message across.

Understand how removing features during product development sometimes surprisingly results in adding value. Explore how to replace a missing element with something from the environment of the product itself. Apply the tool of subtraction.

a) Subtractions Applied

– Products

– Services and More Products

b) Subtraction Case: Sedasys

c) Subtraction: Taking Away to Generate Value

d) Subtraction With Replacement

e) Subtraction Cases: Following the Method

f) Discussion: Full and Partial Subtraction


a) Apply the subtraction template to a product or service

Learn how to piggyback off current resources, when developing a product and to capture new value.

a) Task Unifications Applied

– Communications

– Products

– Don’t Drink and Drive

b) Discussion:

– How would you use task unification to communicate something in your organization?


a) Apply the task unification template to a product or service

Learn how to divide product and process functions in time and space to gain additional value.

a) Division Applied

– Products

– Processes

b) Discussion: Applying Division

c) Advice for Companies

d) How to Start

e) Final Advice


a) Collect Examples of Templates in Action

Learn about the significant value that creativity provides organizations in real terms of costs and future growth. Explore the impact of creative personal traits and fixed & growth mindsets on an individual’s motivation to develop creative ideas for products. Evaluate the power of experimentation, autonomy, diverse teams and rewards structures to help organizations stimulate innovation and creativity for product development.

a) Our Need for Creativity

b) How Can We Learn to Generate Creative Ideas

c) Discussion: Generating Creative Ideas for Products (3 Components)

d) Innovation: Implementing Creative Ideas for Products

e) Overcoming Barriers to Creativity (Creative CORE)

f) Generating Creative Ideas for Products (3 Necessary Components

g) Individual Motivation and Creativity

h) Cultivating Motivation: Fixed and Growth Mindsets

i) Discussion: Applying the Creative CORE to Organizations

j) Four Principles for Organizations to Overcome Barriers

k) Next Steps to Developing Innovative Ideas for Products

l) Discussion: Barriers to Organizational Innovation


  • Gita V. Johar
    Gita V. Johar
    Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business
    Columbia Business School
  • Jacob Goldenberg
    Jacob Goldenberg
    Professor of Marketing, Visiting Professor, Columbia Business School
    Columbia Business School
  • Yoni Stern
    Yoni Stern
    Partner at Systematic Inventive Thinking & SVP of Business Development; Adjunct Professor, Columbia Business School
    Columbia Business School
    Columbia Business School

Practitioner’s Corner

  • Drew Boyd
    Drew Boyd
    Executive Advisor: Global Leader in Creativity and Innovation


EMERITUS follows a unique online model. This model has ensured that nearly 90 percent of our learners complete their course.

  • OrientationOrientation Week
    The first week is orientation week. During this week you will be introduced to the other participants in the class from across the world. You will also learn how to use the learning platform and other learning tools provided.
  • Goal SettingWeekly Goals
    On other weeks, you have learning goals set for the week. The goals would include watching the video lectures and completing the assignments. All assignments have weekly deadlines.
  • Video LecturesRecorded Video Lectures
    The recorded video lectures are by faculty from the collaborating university.
  • Live WebinarsLive Webinars
    Every few weeks, there are live webinars conducted by EMERITUS course leaders. Course leaders are highly-experienced industry practitioners who contextualize the video lectures and assist with questions you may have regarding your assignments. Live webinars are usually conducted between 1 pm and 3 pm UTC on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Clarifying DoubtsClarifying Doubts
    In addition to the live webinars, for some courses, the course leaders conduct Office Hours, which are webinar sessions that are open to all learners. During Office Hours, learners ask questions and course leaders respond. These are usually conducted every alternate week to help participants clarify their doubts pertaining to the content.
  • Follow-UpFollow-Up
    The EMERITUS Program Support team members will follow up and assist over email and via phone calls with learners who are unable to submit their assignments on time.
  • Continuous Course AccessContinued Course Access
    You will continue to have access to the course videos and learning material for up to 12 months from the course start date.

EMERITUS Program Support Team

If at any point in the course you need tech, content or academic support, you can email program support and you will typically receive a response within 24 working hours or less.


Device Support

You can access EMERITUS courses on tablets, phones and laptops. You will require a high-speed internet connection.



On completing the course you join a global community of 5000+ learners on the EMERITUS Network. The Network allows you to connect with EMERITUS past participants across the world.



  • Starts TBD
  • 2 Months
  • 2 – 4 hours per week
  • Course Fees USD 1400


  • You can pay for the course either with an international debit or credit card (unfortunately we are unable to accept Diners credit cards), or through a bank wire transfer. On clicking the apply now button below, you will be directed to the application form and the payment page.
  • We provide deferrals and refunds in specific cases. The deferrals and refund policy is available here.
  • You will be provided a course login within 48 hours of making a payment.


  • Please provide your work experience and your current employer via the application.
  • You can apply by clicking the Apply Now button


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