Today few of us live or work in a place that isn't influenced in some way or another by the pace of the global innovation, changes in worldwide events and the convenience of infinite information at our fingertips. Life bustles along at a faster pace each day allowing us to experience many new products, processes and innovations, oftentimes, more than we may need or want to know about. Where does an inventor who wants to innovate, create and improve products seek out their best potential? Must we re-tool our thinking and change often? Where do our ideas come from and where do we look for them?
Finding the answers to these questions is in itself a research or design project. As an inventor, I must continuously re-invent myself, use tools and experiences to define who I am and how I approach problem solving. The tools we use today allow us to work globally from our office or home, our experiences and knowledge define the world we live in and the problems we solve relate directly to our circle of life and its circumstances. When we discover a problem that needs a better solution, we must start the innovation process positively and objectively.
As often as it happens, I am surprisingly pleased when I promptly discover my innovation or invention already exists. This enables me to move forward onto another idea saving valuable time that could have been spent non-productively. I have a passion for designing new products and I enjoy the research and development process because there are always new things to discover and learn. I do make a habit of doing "keyword" searches using several search engines and comparison product shopping to determine what's out there and what path my innovation should take, if any, to secure a unique niche in the market.
It is apparent that many inventors utilize their experiences, lifestyles or careers to create new ideas; this is their curve of knowledge or experience. New experiences and events are opportunities to make positive changes or to simply reinforce your existing perspective based on previous experiences. Positive change or re-inventing yourself often is an asset to the creative process.
In the eighties, I worked for CBS Networks. CBS, the successful media giant, chose to pursue an interest in the Toy and Game Industries. Being in the TV entertainment business, CBS had acquired several magazine and publication companies to add to its media collection and it became apparent that toy and game products may have been the next form of entertainment for their mass market audience. Some of the companies it acquired were Ideal Toys, Child Guidance and Wonder Horse to name a few.
One of the innovative things we did as a new product development entity, which consisted of marketing, design, creative services and engineering, was to meet quarterly in the Manhattan headquarters to have new product " brainstorm" sessions. These sessions were held in a conference room with no windows, meals were brought in and we were expected to contribute as much as possible based on our experience. What I like best about these sessions were: they were held over a 3 days period, there were no "off limits" to new ideas and no one was permitted to say anything negative about another's idea and all potential product possibilities were explored. All were encouraged to use our circle of knowledge for positive feedback and determine ways to make the product more exciting and eventually a reality. As a result of these sessions, we initiated several exciting new product lines that were extremely innovative and we brought several technologies into the Toy Industry that never existed before.
This experience changed my way of thinking and has helped me to see positive qualities and benefits in the ideas and visions of others.
Since then, I have had numerous other opportunities to re-tool my thinking. More recently, I have had new opportunities and experiences that changed my thinking: I have been a consulting panelist for the Big Idea Group, a national invention search firm, I was selected as a guest for Koku , my all in one cutting board invention, to be on a 14 week series for PBS-TV (in the USA) for a show called Everyday Edison's, I have had products on QVC and I have been pleased to see numerous products I designed on store shelves worldwide. Other areas of my life that have contributed to my curve of knowledge have been: traveling with my wife, spending weekends on college campuses with my (2) older children, coaching middle school football, being a handyman, getting a new pet and volunteering on church building programs. All these experiences have contributed to changing my thinking and have giving me a new curve of knowledge for innovating new products.
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Our guest blogger, Joe Casale, is an Industrial Designer with an eye for innovation whose experience has proven effective in developing and licensing new product concepts. You can reach him at DesignGroup1.com. (Update: This site is no longer active.)