Think of all the different breeds of dog; from the Great Dane to the mighty Chihuahua, there’s hundreds of different types of pooch. And we’re making new ones all the time; designer hybrid models like Bullmations and YorkiePoos, Labskys and Dalmachshunds.
But not everyone realises there’s really only one species of domesticated canine: the Grey Wolf. Every dog from the Pekinese to the Shitsu is the result of our tampering with a wild and formidable killer.
We’ve done the same to every animal, vegetable or mineral we could get our hands on… the history of humanity is the story of us tinkering with whatever was lying around at the time.
And we’ve done it by asking the same four questions over and over again: Can we change the size? Can we change the shape? Can we change the look? Can we change what we use it for? Check out the new breeds of ‘Sticky Notes’ (or ‘Post-Its’) sometime; that little yellow pad now comes in every size, shape and look to suit any use and new hybrids are appearing all the time.
We’ve changed the size of our phones, the shape of our buildings, the look of our food and the use of our pharmaceuticals; Viagra was not invented for what we use it for now. Of course, these aren’t the only questions that trigger new ideas but it’s amazing how far we’ve got with these four.
So if you’re not sure how to kickstart innovation in your world, pick something you’d like to change and imagine it a different size, shape, look or use.
Who knows? It may be the next Labradoodle.