Attribute Listing, Morphological Analysis and Matrix Analysis
Tools for Creating New Products and Services
Attribute Listing, Morphological Analysis and Matrix Analysis are good techniques for finding new combinations of products or services. They are sufficiently similar to be discussed together. We use Attribute Listing and Morphological Analysis to generate new products and services.
How to Use the Tools
To use the techniques, first list the attributes of the product, service or strategy you are examining. Attributes are parts, properties, qualities or design elements of the thing being looked at. For example, attributes of a pencil would be shaft material, lead material, hardness of lead, width of lead, quality, color, weight, price, and so on. A television plot would have attributes such as characters, actions, locations, and weather. For a marketing strategy you might use attributes of markets open to you, uses of the product, and skills you have available.
Draw up a table using these attributes as column headings. Write down as many variations of the attribute as possible within these columns. This might be an exercise that benefits from brainstorming. The table should now show all possible variations of each attribute.
Now select one entry from each column. Either do this randomly or select interesting combinations. By mixing one item from each column, you will create a new mixture of components. This is a new product, service or strategy.
Finally, evaluate and improve that mixture to see if you can imagine a profitable market for it.
Imagine that you want to create a new lamp. The starting point for this might be to carry out a morphological analysis. Properties of a lamp might be power supply, bulb type, size, style, finish, material, shade, and so on.
You can set these out as column headings on a table, and then brainstorm variations. This table is sometimes known as a "Morphologial Box" or "Zwicky Box" after the scientist Fritz Zwicky, who developed the technique in the 1960s.
|Power Supply||Bulb Type||Size||Style||Finish||Material|
Interesting combinations might be:
- Solar powered/battery, daylight bulb – possibly used in clothes shops to allow customers to see the true color of clothes.
- Large hand cranked arc lights – used in developing countries, or far from a mains power supply.
- A ceramic oil lamp in Roman style – used in themed restaurants, resurrecting the olive oil lamps of 2000 years ago.
- A normal table lamp designed to be painted, wallpapered or covered in fabric so that it matches the style of a room perfectly.
Some of these might be practical, novel ideas for the lighting manufacturer. Some might not. This is where the manufacturer's experience and market knowledge are important.
Attribute Listing, Morphological Analysis and Matrix Analysis are useful techniques for making new combinations of products, services and strategies.
You use the tools by identifying the attributes of the product, service or strategy you are examining. Attributes might be components, assemblies, dimensions, color, weight, style, speed of service, skills available, and so on.
Use these attributes as column headings. Underneath the column headings list as many variations of that attribute as you can.
You can now use the table or "morphological box", by randomly selecting one item from each column, or by selecting interesting combinations of items. This will give you ideas that you can examine for practicality.
- Attribute Listing focuses on the attributes of an object, seeing how each attribute could be improved.
- Morphological Analysis uses the same basic technique, but is used to create a new product by mixing components in a new way.
- Matrix Analysis focuses on businesses. It is used to generate new approaches, using attributes such as market sectors, customer needs, products, promotional methods, and so on.