“Inventing is a skill that some people have and some people don’t. But you can learn how to invent.” Ray Dolby
Last night, I watched four groups of people create and advertise a new soft drink. It was fun to see how each group promoted their new product.
IBM Corporation suggests there are five steps to the design process-but that all depends on who you’re talking with and the kind of design you are making. Generally, people agree you’ll need to do at least the following:
1. Determine the problem at hand. When we don’t know the problem, it’s difficult to find a solution. Some people have a knack for knowing what’s needed in a situation. These “big picture” types can set our brains thinking in the invention direction.
2. Brainstorm and choose a solution from many options. Once we know the problem, it’s best to spend time thinking about as many different options as possible. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I love the book A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech. It challenges us to keep looking for another right answer.
3. Document the design specifics and research the market. Not everyone goes through this step. Some people go straight to the inventing step. However, documentation can help us work through little details that might save time in the long run. Of course, knowing the market will help anyone who expects to sell the finished product too.
4. Make a model to test the design. Testing and asking opinions can really help when inventing. It’s amazing the great ideas that can be picked up from all different kinds of people—especially children.
5. Produce the product. We had a friend who made it completely through the design process and then never produced the product. It was so frustrating to watch. I guess getting something to market is better done by a creative team. Hopefully a team will have people who can strengthen each other’s weaknesses. Still, the whole point of any invention should be seeing others use the invention, right?
If you’d like to see a really creative guy in action, why not see the solar-powered dental equipment and flying car being used in the jungle? This missionary adult-kid continues to live out the inventive spirit.
Basically, inventions are just limited by our imaginations. What would you like to invent?