I was looking for something else, and stumbled across Creating Passionate Users, a group blog by Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates, and Eric Freeman.
Kathy has come up with a metaphor for product innovation that she calls "EQ Modelling" -- the EQ being an audio equalizing board (the EQ part), with sliders.
The first use of the metaphor in creativity is that you replace audio attributes with your product or service's attributes (price, features, performance, etc.) -- then you play around with the sliders. What if you increased service while holding the other attributes steady?
But then it gets more interesting. What if you brainstormed new sliders?
Look at things your competitors don't consider important enough to warrant a slider, and imagine what would happen if you promoted some of those things to first-class slider citizens and tuned them dramatically up or down. If--and this is a big if--these new sliders reflect previously unsatisfied user desires, you might have your edge.
At the get-go, I'm excited about this tool as a way of talking about The Girls' Middle School. We need a way of talking about the unique aspects of our program, without denigrating schools who have a different mission and curriculum. There are a lot of different ways to do education right, but it is difficult to find a way to articulate the differences without being dismissive.
This tool will give us a way to do that.