The invention of new products traditionally has involved methods that encourage the generation of large numbers of ideas. The notion that the rewards of generating a large number of ideas outweigh its costs can be traced back to early studies in the field. Because this process tends to be highly complex and un-formalized, those involved in generating new ideas may seek ways to become more productive as they progress from one ideation task to another. Some succeed in identifying patterns of invention that are common to different contexts and apply them to a certain product category, or even to other product categories. People who adopt such a cognitive strategy may expect to gain an advantage over others who treat every task as new and unrelated to prior ideation. However, even if they prove productive, the patterns are likely to be idiosyncratic and, quite often, not even verbally definable. As such, they lack permanence and generalize ability.
The main thesis of this article is that certain patterns are identifiable, objectively verifiable, widely applied, and learnable and that these patterns, termed flash templates can serve as a facilitative tool that channels the ideation process, enabling the person to be more productive and focused. We illustrate these notions with an example. Analysis of Domino's Pizza's promotion strategy using flash templates, in which it offered a discount for any delivery exceeding a 30-minute time limit, shows that the company created a dependency between two previously unrelated variables, namely, price and delivery time. The dependency was created by introducing a step function between the two variables: Within the first 30 minutes following the order, the price remains constant; immediately thereafter, it is discounted. This specific dependency could be applied in other contexts as well. Similar discounts could be offered, for example, in supermarket or laundry delivery services when a predetermined delivery time limit is exceeded. Thus, we can note that a replicable pattern has been identified. We can now extend the notion of replicable patterns to the notion of templates. Templates represent replicable patterns that are generalize able a cross variables and products.
We exemplify this extension by illustrating how one of the five tem-plates identified in this study, namely, the Attribute Dependency template, is derived. Note that, in the Domino's Pizza example, a replicable pattern is obtained by duplicating the dependency between the two specific independent variables (price and time) through a step function. New product ideas can be generated by introducing a dependency between two previously independent variables through a step function. This rule is far more general than the mere duplication of a pattern, as was suggested in the cases of the supermarket or laundry delivery services. The flash template and it’s generalize ability across products can be illustrated with an example drawn from a recent study. Hungry Jack syrup bottles are designed for microwave oven use. The bottle labels change color on reaching a certain temperature, there by informing consumers that the syrup is ready.