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The Innovator's Toolkit: 50+ Techniques for Predictable and Sustainable Organic Growth, 2nd Edition by Neil DeCarlo, Philip Samuel, David Silverstein

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Technique 8

Nine Windows

Looking at your opportunity through nine different lenses.

 

Nine windows is a technique that helps you examine the innovation opportunity across the dimensions of time (past, current, future) and scale (supersystem, system, subsystem). For example, suppose you're designing metal utensils that can be used on an airplane—but only for eating and not as a weapon. Instead of innovating the utensils themselves, you could focus your efforts on the raw materials that make up the utensils (subsystem), or even on the surrounding environment (supersystem).

The core of nine windows is a simple grid consisting of nine boxes, or windows. Filling in the boxes provides eight additional perspectives on the problem you've identified and helps you decide how and at what level to apply innovation. As such, you should leverage nine windows early in your project to better scope the innovation opportunity.

Steps

Scenario: To illustrate nine windows, let's say we run a construction and farm equipment rental store called “Git-er-dun.” As a natural consequence of their work environments, our customers inevitably drag dirt, mud, and manure into the store. Therefore, our goal, or job to be done (JTBD), is to maintain clean floors inside the store, but why do this in some traditional way when we can innovate?

1. Prepare Nine Windows Grid

On a white board or flip chart, draw nine boxes arranged in a 3-by-3 matrix. Label the bottom row of boxes (from left to right): Past, Present,

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