Incremental innovation improves on existing technology or systems. Historically, the most famous and impactful inventions tend to fall under the category of radical innovation. Not to say incremental innovation is bad–it’s important–but it doesn’t usually change the game. The game changers are the ones that break out of existing paradigms and don’t accept the usual parameters as a given. It’s radical innovation we need when looking at critical issues such as how to hang toilet paper on the roll.
Toilet paper–over or under? Those of us who aren’t monsters know there’s only one right answer–under. Now, hanging the roll under is an example of incremental innovation, given that the original patent depicted it hung over. Thank goodness, someone figured out that there is a better way,
But unfortunately we enlightened ones have to live with other people who may not have caught on to the truth. So we engage in surreptitious roll flipping, negotiations and bargaining, and outright arguing over how to outfit the bathroom.
But what if you could avoid these arguments altogether by displaying your toilet paper in a completely different way–by practicing radical innovation? I’ve noticed now on several international vacations that the good people of Europe have done just that. Behold:
Isn’t it beautiful? This toilet paper dispensing system sidesteps the over-or-under argument entirely by refusing to be constricted by the roll and rod construction. This, my friends, could be the answer that restores our friendships, preserves our marriages, and indeed, saves modern society.
Clearly this is a somewhat silly example, but it does illustrate how problems can be solved by questioning the basic parameters defining them. If toilet paper doesn’t need to be pulled from a roll hung through its core, other solutions become possible. What parameters can you sidestep in the problems you work to solve?