Catalyze Innovation that Advances Health

Principles of Innovation: Puzzles

At MI2, we turn to several principles of innovation to keep us on track in pursuit of our mission. The brief vignettes below help illustrate the principles that guide us. By clicking on the red links, you will have an opportunity to try your hand (and mind) at a series of sliding puzzles at varying degrees of difficulty.


printing-press-sqThe wine press gave rise to the printing press, using one technology for a completely different purpose.
The Puzzles

Transforming Mistakes

Sticky notesThe inventors of sticky notes were originally trying to make a strong adhesive glue. It didn’t work out, but they noticed that less adhesive glue could be used for another purpose.
The Puzzles

Putting Two Things Together

A roller bagWheels and carriage bags have been around forever, but when combined they revolutionized travel.
The Puzzles

Going Where the Herd Isn’t

Sam BrannanRather than search for the next goldmine, Sam Brannan became California’s first millionaire by supplying pans and shovels to the fortune seekers.
The Puzzles

Non-Attachment and Collective Input

Toy StoryIn the book Creativity Inc., Ed Catmull explains the culture of Pixar and how the animation team used “plussing,” constant critique followed by constructive suggestion. Pixar has called this technique a “game changer.”
The Puzzles

Big Problem ≠ Big Solution

MilkAs discussed in their book, Switch, the Heath brothers emphasize that big problems rarely require big solutions. Instead, they are often solved by a series of small solutions. Health researchers, Reger and Booth-Butterfield, found that simply directing people to switch from whole milk to skim milk was far more effective in getting people to eat healthier than more general efforts to get people to “act healthier.”
The Puzzles

Seeing Differently

Old Woman or Young WomanThis famous perceptual illusion, created by W.E. Hill in 1915, causes the brain to switch between seeing a young girl and an old woman.
The Puzzles

Adjacent Possible

CoralAs discussed in Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From, “the Adjacent Possible” refers to the potential and serendipity created when you notice and connect the unlikely. Coral reefs are particularly good at recycling and reinventing the spare parts of their ecosysytems.
The Puzzles

Associational Thinking

PadlockIn their book, The Innovator’s DNA, Dyer, Gregerson and Christensen credit Apple and Steve Jobs for their emphasis on Associational Thinking – a unique ability to link ideas that would not normally be aligned. A designer at Apple was playing with the spin dial of a combination lock and came up with a way to make the iPod interface much simpler and more user-friendly.
The Puzzles