“What if we broke it up?”
Segmentation: Dividing an object or system into independent parts. Making an object or system easier to disassemble.
Take off a speaker grille on a good speaker enclosure and you will find that behind are actually two or more separate speakers. This is because large speakers naturally produce deeper tones than small speakers. Dividing one speaker into multiple-sized speakers allows for the reproduction of a wide range of sound efficiently.
Divide the work
Henry Ford famously applied the use of the assembly line to the manufacture of the Model T, revolutionizing automobile production. Dividing the work of assembling a car into repeatable tasks and moving the car from one work station to another offered several advantages over having a single worker or team of workers assemble a whole car. It became easier to assess the efficiency of each task and optimize the training of the workers, the tools available to the workers, and streamline the flow of materials to each station.
Franchising is an example of applying segmentation to a business process. The franchisee operates the store while the franchisor handles marketing, branding, and devising the product or service. This divides the effort between franchisees and franchisors efficiently.
Another example of segmenting is ganging similar or identical items together. Automobile engines typically combine 4, 6 or 8 cylinders to produce more power smoothly. A single cylinder car would work but it would be unpleasant to operate and require a heavier engine cradle due to the vibrations. This divides the work across multiple cylinders smoothly.
Make an object easy to disassemble
Physical examples include tool-free battery hatches in electronic devices like remotes; modular furniture; containerized shipping which allows for easy movement of goods between ships, trucks and trains.
Electrical plugs and sockets started becoming available in the 1880s. This made it possible not only to move lights from one location to another, but created a standard electrical connection that ushered in the electric fan and countless other appliances without the need for an electrician.
Component stereo systems allow owners to easily replace portions of their systems and also future-proofs the systems, allowing a system to integrate a CD player even if it had been manufactured before the advent of CD sound.
Last but not least – the ice cube tray. No more ice picks, just easy to get, individually sized cubes of ice.
Increase the degree of fragmentation or segmentation
This describes “niching”, the process of creating small, alterations to create more options for consumers, e.g. shampoo for dry hair, oily hair, curly hair, dyed hair; shampoo for thinning hair, dandruff sufferers; shampoo with conditioner.
North American phone numbers are segmented (e.g. 416-555-2367 vs 4165552367) making them easy to remember.
Most automotive dashboards are laid out with climate controls segmented from audio controls.
McDonalds’ Royale with Cheese
Not just a meme from Pulp Fiction, there is in fact a Royale with Cheese served in France and other markets. In part this accommodates the use of the metric system which would prohibit the use of the “quarter pounder” designation.
McDonalds also has halal and kosher variants of its food in some markets, along with regional menu items like the Chicken Katsu Burger.
It can be helpful to think of the original state compared to the end state. The V8 surely evolved from a single cylinder engine, and so it is an example of Segmentation, not merging. The pencil with the eraser surely evolved from the two as separate items, so it is an example of Merging, not segmentation.
As I stumble across real world examples of this Inventive Principle in action I add them here.
What problems do you face that this inventive principle could help solve? Have you used this principle before?