Must we compromise experience for mobility?

It’s been a minute, I know — but I’m back! My energy hath been renewed in my stewardship for innovation. MAJOR Innovation sighting recently! Over a Thanksgiving trip to the mountains of West Virginia [ski country], my family and I enjoyed lunch in a small town;  Thomas, WV.  My husband casually wanted to get some coffee before we began our 3-hour drive home. We strolled to a small, local coffee shop called Tip Top. I must say it was the best damn cup of coffee I’ve ever had!  And, true confession – I don’t even like coffee that much. Premium coffee aside, I was curious as to why this coffee experience was so satisfying —especially since we took the coffee to-go.

Side note: I truly recommend the maple pecan scone. It’s the perfect marriage of fluffy buttermilk biscuit + sugar cookie with a heavenly maple glaze on top. Alright – back to innovation.

I brought the coffee cup inside once we returned home and just set it on the kitchen table – usually I would throw things like that away, but something was urging me to hold on to it. Fast forward to a couple of nights later — My husband and I sat in our living room just talking about the awesomeness of this coffee lid [weird, I know]. So I googled the maker printed on the lid – Viora.  I went down a feverish rabbit hole of reading up on the design, the company – Vaporpath, Inc. , the inventor and patents holder… etc. Majorly crushing on this coffee lid – again, weird.

I am immediately impressed by the Viora Lid website alone – almost as much as the actual product.  They take a B2C approach for a B2B product – very smart.  They tell a story – inspired by the love of coffee and tea. Why must mobility compromise quality of experience? Well, it doesn’t have to…anymore! This beverage lid is a lovely example of Division [functional] and secondarily Task Unification.  Now, for those readers who are not familiar with what the heck that means, here is a brief account of Systematic Inventive Thinking or SIT.

SIT is a genius collection of 5 patterns that exist all over the world – innovation patterns.  Most [if not all] true innovations can be categorized into one or more of these patterns.  These patterns work proactively and retroactively.  Retroactively – I can dissect an innovation and map is back to a thinking pattern to explain what makes it innovative; the DNA of the product, service, or process. The beauty in these patterns is that you can proactively apply them to generate ideas that attack functional and structural fixedness.  The 5 patterns are: Subtraction, Task Unification, Division, Multiplication, and Attribute Dependency. To learn more about SIT, I highly recommend this read, Inside the Box.

What does the Viora Lid offer exactly?  A few things…

  • It drinks like an open-top cup
  • Allows you to sense temperature and ideally avoid burns
  • Unlocks the aroma (75% of taste comes from smell)
  • Mitigates spills by catching splashes


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Division: A product, service, or process is divided along a physical or functional line, then rearranged back into the product. You can rearrange in both space or time.

  • Space: a new physical location
  • Time: appearing at a different time than other components

The Viora Lid uses Functional Division to rearrange components to appear at a different time.  This innovation rearranges the on-the-go drinking experience – how the beverage interacts with the human body; our senses. The component of taste has been divided out to occur AFTER the senses of touch and smell — they have been placed first in the experience. Viora Lid has restored the traditional in-house beverage experience!  Think about your natural beverage experience with a traditional open-top cup.  You lift the cup to your face,  smell the aroma, sense the temperature before you place your mouth onto the lip of the cup, then finally take a sip.  The traditional, long-standing coffee cup lid has a tiny hole that you effectively slurp the beverage through. Which can be a jolting, unpleasant experience – too hot and you are deprived of sense of smell.  A secondary pattern is Task Unification

Task Unification: assign a new task to an existing resource.

The lid is a component of the overall to-go cup.  The additional task of spill mitigation has been assigned to the lid. Since the opening is recessed into the lid with side walls, splashes are contained more successfully than the traditional lid.

I want to communicate true innovation is quiet, not loud.  True innovation is sneaky and understated; it doesn’t flash bells and whistles at you. True innovation makes things better; that’s it. Top 5 innovation characteristics: Mobility, Adaptability, Simplicity, Specificity, and Ideality. This innovation possesses two of these – Mobility and Specificity. We all understand mobility.  Specificity is using parts of the problem to become the solution. Viora Lid doesn’t add anything to the component that wasn’t already there.  Focus on the components and attributes within the natural universe of the product experience;  also known as the Closed World. That’s where the magic happens!

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