Morphological box

The morphological box is a creativity technique. In this method, the development of ideas is made possible with a systematic approach of constructing a multidimensional matrix.

Organisation

  • Duration
    Long (more than 1 hour)
  • Complexity:
    Difficult
  • Group size:
    1 to 50 persons

Description Long

The term morphology comes from ancient Greek word "morphe", which indicates "the study of form or pattern". Morphological analysis is a proven ideation technique in order to have "organized invention". In the Morphological Box, a given problem is divided into its fundamental elements. Consequently, for each problem element, a possible solution or forms are sought and by merging the particular possible solutions, the problem as a whole should be solved. The purpose of this method is to re-arrange information in a relevant and practical way that could lead to help dealing with a challenge or stimulate new ways of thinking. There is no "right" or "wrong" way of using this technique, however, obtaining sufficient knowledge concerning a problem or issue is essential in order to develop the most efficient morphological box.

Illustration

Preparation

  1. Define the problem that has to be analyzed.
  2. In case the parameters and values are not established during the workshop, they have to be defined ahead of the workshop.

Execution

  1. Explain the participants the problem that is going to be covered in the Workshop. It will serve as a header for the Morphological Box.
  2. Higher-level parameters are allocated to the subordinate aspects, and entered in the first column of the matrix. For reasons of complexity, there should be no more than seven features selected. These should be as independent of one another as possible, and must be applicable to all possible solution variants relevant to the problem in its entirety. This step is the crucial one, and it may be supported by the use of other creativity techniques like mind-mapping.
  3. For each parameter, possible attributes are now determined and entered in the matrix cells to the right of the associated feature. If at this stage the features give rise to too many attributes, so that the scheme becomes unmanageable, it is possible to reduce the undue complexity of the situation by breaking it down into sub-matrices.
  4. The participants should establish possible combinations. Each possible combination of individual attributes represents a solution, which is linked with a line on the matrix.
  5. Evaluation of the alternatives and selection of a solution. The possibilities can be discussed and analyzed in a plenum. An evaluation can also take place in the selection phase.

Hints from experience

5-10 parameters as well as values are sufficient.  These can also be prepared ahead of the workshop.

Tools list

  • Paper and pencil
  • Flipchart or Whiteboard

References

Backerra, H., Malorny, C., & Schwarz, W. (2002). Kreativitätswerkzeuge - Kreativ Prozesse anstossen, Innovationen fördern [Creativity Techniques - Triggering Creative Processes, Encouraging Innovations], Munich and Vienna, p. 80.

Creativity techniques: A short compendium to give you an abundance of ideas and innovative solutions. (2006) (2nd ed.). Bettlach. Retrieved from eprints.hums.ac.ir/2295/1/Kreativitaetstechniken_E.pdf

www.salemmarafi.com/business/the-morphological-box/

Maass, W. (2012). Innovation Management - Creativity Techniques. Lecture, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany. Retrieved from iss.uni-saarland.de/workspace/documents/ivm-7_creativity-techniques.pdf

Schawel, C., & Billing, F. (2014). Morphologischer Kasten. In C. Schawel & F. Billing, Top 100 Management Tools (1st ed.). Gabler Verlag.

Swemorph.com,. Swedish Morphological Society. Retrieved 30 July 2015, from www.swemorph.com/index.html

The Futures Group,. (1994). Relevance Tree And Morphological Analysis. Retrieved from www.lampsacus.com/documents/TheFuturesGroup.pdf

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