Sequential-Attributes Matrix

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Similarities and Differences

The sequential-attributes matrix, originally developed by J.D.Brooks, simply applies product modification checklists to items that consist of a sequentially connected element – for instance a production process, an administrative procedure, or a problem-solving method. It is also useful for physically connected sequences of components (e.g. a drill can be thought of as an interdependent sequence: hole, handle, screw, plug, power)

Checklists such as Osborn's Checklist, and many of the attribute based idea-generating methods, are inclined to handle lists of components and attributes as if each item could be altered independently of the others. However, this is rarely true, and in cases where the components are stages in an overall process, interdependence is particularly strong. Whilst Brooks’ method does not give a great deal of help in its handling of sequential constraints, it at least draws attention to their existence.

Checklist of generic modifications(any suitable checklist would do)
Stages in a process
Eliminate
Substitute
Rearrange
Combine
Increase
Decrease
Separate
Loaf of bread
x
x
Take out a slice of bread
x
x
Put the bread in the toaster
x
x
Set the time you require
x
x
x
Toast until the timer pops the toast out
x
x
x
x
x

Table for applying a checklist to a set of sequentially constrained items

  1. Create a 2-dimensional table as above and a checklist of generic modifications listed across the top (though any equivalent checklist, such as Osborn's Checklist, would suffice)
  2. Review each stage in turn applying the checklist, think about how it might be adapted, bearing in mind that each stage id dependant on its neighbours.
  3. Study the order in its entirety and see if it can be altered or changed around in any way.
  4. Select any of these modifications, (or combinations of them) which appear of significance.
  5. Apply any appropriate idea-generating and evaluation methods to work out ways of achieving these changes and to identify the most promising.