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.
Emeritus and Columbia Business School Executive Education

Columbia Business School Executive Education is collaborating with online education provider Emeritus to offer a portfolio of high-impact online programs. These programs leverage Columbia’s thought leadership in management practice developed over years of research, teaching, and practice. By collaborating with Emeritus, we are able to broaden access beyond our on-campus offerings in a collaborative and engaging format that stays true to the quality of Columbia Business School Executive Education. You can read more about this relationship here.


Examples used in the Course


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  • Duration

    2 Months, Online

    (2 - 4 hours per week)
  • Course Fees

    US$ 2,600*

Curriculum & Faculty


    • Frameworks:
    • 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?
    • Frameworks:
    • 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
  • Frameworks:
    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
  • Application:
  • a) Using Conceptual Thinking to Aid in Brainstorming: Chicken Eating Vegetables
  • b) Visualization Applied: Car Jack for Older People
  • Frameworks:
  • 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 III-Defined Problems
  • i) Creating Serendipitous Mistakes
  • j) Function Follow Form: Working Process
  • k) Discussion: Finding Benefits in Strange Ideas
  • Application:
  • a) Finding the Pattern in Ads – Identify some of the deep structures and patterns that successful marketers use to get their message across.
  • Frameworks:
  • 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
  • Application:
  • a) Apply the subtraction template to a product or service.
    • Frameworks:
    • 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?
    • Application:
  • a) Apply the task unification template to a product or service
    • Frameworks:
    • 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
    • Application:
    • a) Collect Examples of Templates in Action
    • Frameworks:

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


Drew Boyd
Drew Boyd

Executive Advisor: Global Leader in Creativity and Innovation

Gita Johar
Gita Johar

Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business

Jacob Goldenberg
Jacob Goldenberg

Professor of Marketing, Visiting Professor, Columbia Business School

Yoni Stern
Yoni Stern

Partner at Systematic Inventive Thinking & SVP of Business Development

Learning Experience

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

  • Orientation Week

    Orientation WeekThe 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.

  • Weekly Goals

    Weekly GoalsOn 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.

  • Recorded Video Lectures

    Recorded Video LecturesThe recorded video lectures are by faculty from the collaborating university.

  • Live Webinars

    Live WebinarsEvery 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 Doubts

    Clarifying DoubtsIn 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-Up

    Follow-UpThe 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.

  • Continued Course Access

    Continued Course AccessYou will continue to have access to the course videos and learning material for up to 12 months from the course start date.


Assignments/Application Projects

Assignments are given out weekly and they are based on the lectures or tutorials provided. They need to be completed and submitted as per the deadline for grading purposes. Extensions may be provided based on a request sent to the support team.

Discussion Boards

It is an open forum where participants pin their opinions or thoughts regarding the topic under discussion.
Case Studies

These are real world scenario-based assignments involving an up-close, in-depth, and detailed examination of a subject of study, as well as its related contextual conditions.


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.


Emeritus Network

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.

Program Highlights

Industry Examples
13 Industry Examples
Practitioner’s Corner Videos
14 Practitioner’s Corner Videos
7 Assignments
9 Discussions
Interactive Lectures
72 Interactive Lectures

Benefits to the Learner

Career capital

Career capital

  • Professional acceleration through our enriched leadership toolkit
  • Learn while you earn
  • Get noticed. Get ahead.
Social Capital

Social Capital

  • Build new networks through peer interaction
  • Benefit from diverse class profiles
Brand Capital

Brand Capital

  • Certificate from Emeritus in collaboration with Columbia Business School Executive Education
Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Capital

  • Global Business Education
  • Rigorous and experiential curriculum
  • World-renowned faculty
  • Globally connected classroom: peer to peer learning circles
  • Action learning: learning by doing


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  • 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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