Having an innovation block? Need to kickstart a project? Here’s three places I go to get out of an idea rut to jump start my mental processes.
- Patent Databases. Did you know that they are not just for attorneys or inventors? Are recipe books only for top chefs? Like recipe books, patents tell you how to make inventions. And if you search the older patents, you can find some inventions that you are free to copy EXACTLY as the patent outlines. Or, if you want to be more savvy, find those older free-to-copy patents and improve them and protect that improvement for yourself.
- Internet. Come on, we all take mental breaks and do it. How else did you even come across this blog site in the first place? Internet surfing can help with boredom or the need to shake up the mental cogs a bit, but it can also be used to find stimulus for improving your product or service. And the stimulus doesn’t need to be directly on point to your field of expertise. Often it is the unrelated stimulus that sparks ideas that are more unique for solving your customer’s problems.
- Point of Sale. How often do you actually go and talk to the end-user of your product or service? How about even watching how they use your product or service? Do they actually follow the instructions included with your product? Do you even know what are the real issues that need to be solved for your customer, or are you keeping yourself at a safe distance from them so you don’t need to learn?
There is one point I want to add to each of the above idea starters; they are all free. You don’t need to pay a lawyer to search for patents for you. You don’t need a fancy research group to talk to customers for you. And even if you don’t want to directly pay for Internet usage, you can go to your local library and get on the Internet for free.
So, next time you need to kickstart an idea with new stimulus, consider these three places as a starting point.
And when you create an idea worth retaining, check out using a Yellow Card as an ideal idea capturing system.