“What if we put it together with something else?”

Merging: Combining multiple items into one structure, or multiple tasks into one system.


The clock-radio is a classic example of merging. Not only does it combine two functions that are useful at the bedside, using only one plug and taking up less room, but the merging allows a new feature; the radio as alarm.


Many businesses embrace a degree of merging in order to increase the value of your visit, e.g. gas stations with ply you with snacks; and grocery stores with financial service booths.

Some multi-franchise operations will colocate two restaurants (Yum Brands, for example with KFC and Taco Bell) in a single building to minimize cost, maximize traffic and allow some operations to be run in common (inventory fulfillment, garbage disposal, building maintenance).

Colocation of services like gas, cable, electricity and water reduce the amount of digging required and minimize cost.

Dick Tracy meet Inspector Gadget

The smart phone merges componentry and functions that would previously have been embodied in a radio, a TV, a still camera, a film camera, credit cards, a CD player etc, etc.

A Swiss army knife can merge several tools including knives, saws, and even cutlery.

More examples

As I stumble across real world examples of this Inventive Principle in action I add them here.

Your turn

What problems do you face that this inventive principle could help solve? Have you used this principle before?

Photo by Joe Haupt, Flickr