From the latest tool or piece of automation software to measurement or campaign tactics, very few things we come across in the communications industry are truly unique. Most “major” technological advancements are just that, advancements on an idea that has actually been around for a long time.

“[Insert New Invention Here], now that’s the greatest idea since sliced bread!” We’ve all heard it. But what was sliced bread? Manipulating an existing product (or idea) to solve a customer’s problem.

  • Problem 1: You’re hungry.
  • Solution 1: You bake a loaf of bread to eat.
  • Problem 2: The large loaf is very hard to eat because it is an odd shape and not proportioned for easy enjoyment of buttery delight.
  • Solution 2: Loaf of bread is sliced and sold in pieces, making it easy for customers to enjoy with butter or the condiment of their choosing.


The creator of Solution 2 didn’t reinvent the wheel; they didn’t create a new product that came in the optimal shape for the easy addition of butter. They just tweaked existing results to solve a problem.

At SHIFT Boston, we recently were given the opportunity to listen to David Rose, entrepreneur, author and instructor at the MIT Media Lab (disclosure: David is also a SHIFT client), about his new book “Enchanted Objects.” The premise of his talk was how future technologies will not blow our minds with their new abundance of abilities – they will simply integrate into our daily lives in ways we wouldn’t have even realize we needed them. A pill bottle cap that lights up when you forget to take your medicine. An umbrella that flashes its handle when it is forecasted to rain that day.

The takeaway? If you have a problem, don’t spend too much precious time looking for a completely new solution. Do your research. Chances are, someone else had a similar problem and already came up with a solution. It may not be exactly what you need, but it will put you on the track of success. A few tweaks and enhancements and you may just come up with the next ‘sliced bread.’

Tori Sabourin
Marketing Analyst

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