Creativity Matters in Every Walk of Life | Chapter 2 — The DNA

Gladson Joshua
4 min readJul 7, 2020


Let’s See where an excellent idea comes from?

The answer would definitely amaze you!

Let’s look at one of the most successful Movie director of Kollywood, Director Shankar. He has directed movies that are box office hits and trendsetters for the whole of the Indian cinema industry. He is a Wizard of Grandeur and the Torchbearer of Modern tech in Indian cinema.

Director Shankar often has a simple storyline and the perfect thought process to present it on the big screen, which is always satisfying. This was the guide and the influence for almost all of his movies. He used this pattern of Grandeur and Modern tech throughout his career. He is not the only person following a pattern many other directors, musicians, writers and lyricist also use pattern of some form.

Fascinatingly, highly creative people don’t want us to know they use a pattern. In fact, patterns make them a creative genius. During the course of evolution of mankind for thousands of years, Innovators used patterns into their discoveries regularly without recognising it.

I would like to call these patterns as DNA, the DNA of a product or service. Visualize that we take out the DNA of a product or service and apply to a different product or a service. This process is called Systematic Inventive Thinking. And yes, it uses a set of patterns that can be reapplied to any product, process or service. We all have a common question that how these patterns would help channelize our ideation method?

The answer is that they help us organise our thought process so that we can think systematically. Surprisingly, most of the products and services that we find innovative can be explained in just five patterns. These patterns are called Thinking Tools of Systematic Inventive Thinking


The thinking tool is the core of Systematic Inventive Thinking, where innovative solutions have common patterns. Thinking tool doesn’t concentrate on the difference of the solution but on what is common in the products, process or service. This had led to the evolution of the five Thinking Tools.


Subtraction is to eliminate a core element from a product and find benefits for the virtual product. Virtual product is the envision of abstracted arrangement.


Multiplication is to take an existing component of a product and Copy it. Copied components to be altered in a counterintuitive way.


Division is the process of dividing a product or its component and rearrange it to produce a new product. Using this tool forces consideration of different formations, either on the level of the product or service as a whole or on the level of an individual component.

Task Unification

In Task Unification, we assign a different and added task to an existing product, process or service. Task Unification is an efficient way to win Functional Fixedness.

Attribute Dependency

The fundamental law of this tool is building and disintegrating dependencies between variables of a product. Attribute Dependency works with variables rather than components. Variable is something that has the potential to change values.

These five patterns are a crucial foundation for being creative.

Let’s look at how and when to use them

Function Follows Form

We think the best way to formulate an idea is, to begin with the problem and then discussing the solution to it. What if we start with the solution and work backwards to the problem, this would help us to get more innovative.

Let’s go back to our coffee mug example.

The coffee mug changes colour when the temperature of the beverage changes. We should ask ourselves, why that would be beneficial? If we are like most others, we would think that this idea prevents us either from getting burned by a hot beverage or being brain freeze with an ice-cold drink.

In this systematic inventive thinking process, it is defined as function follows form principle.

Let’s see how it works.

Step 1: Start with a current situation (product, service, process)

Step 2: Pick the item and list down its components and its attributes.

Step 3: Apply one of the five thinking tools (Subtraction, division, multiplication, task unification, and attribute dependency)

When we apply the tools to the current situation, we develop a new model that may seem to be crazy or uncanny. That’s quite normal. We consider this crazy, uncanny model as a virtual product. Virtual product has no physical form but it exists in our mind.

Step 4: Mentally describe and imagine the virtual product (Closing your eyes might help. It gets easier by practice)

Step 5: Ask two questions in this specific order.

  • Should we do it? (Is it beneficial to anyone in any way)
  • Can we do it? (Is it feasible to execute)

If the virtual product didn’t makeup to these criteria, then Don’t waste time.

Step 6: If you have valid answers to pass through both questions, we are one step near to the adaptation or we may modify it in an effective way

We must repeat through these steps many times before we end up with an idea. We have to apply function follows form principle with each of the five techniques.

So that’s all about DNA.

In the next chapter, we’ll see in detail about Subtraction.



Drew Boyd