Tiffany Krumins had difficulty giving medicine to a child with special needs. She decided that night to create a special medicine dropper that would make the administering of medicine to children easier. She used the recording device of a greeting card and constructed an elephant head in which she hid the dropper. Ava the Elephant was created. This idea has been converted into a million dollar business.
David Segal was only 28 years old when he began David´s Tea in Canada. His tea shop focusses on making tea more appealing to a larger number of people. He works with expert blenders to create new and unique flavours of tea. His flavours are based on trends in the restaurant and baking industry. Within 8 years of opening the first store, the company has been able to expand to 156 stores in Canada and 37 stores in United States.
In both cases above, the persons identified a need in the market and were able to develop a product to match that need. These products were simple and innovative. Innovative ideas can lead to million dollar businesses and ideas can come from any one of us. The capacity to innovate lies within all of us, yet most of us do not tap into this potential. This article seeks to provide some tips on how to generate great ideas.
1. Seek new ways of doing things
Successful ideas always meet customers´ needs. Hence the question then begs how do I identify the market needs that are not being currently served? Being able to identify these needs requires developing a new mindset. Innovative ideas come from persons who have cultivated a desire to always look for better ways to do things. Innovators do not accept the status quo but instead challenge it. Amazon´s founder decided that there was a better way to sell books. Uber was borne out of a desire to make public transportation faster and easier. Building our innovative capability requires each of us to train our minds to consistently seek new or better ways of doing things.
2. Combine unrelated ideas together
A good way to develop innovative ideas is to combine seemingly unrelated ideas or processes. Jorge Odon, an Argentinean car mechanic developed a new device to assist in the delivery of babies. Odon was inspired by looking at a YouTube video showing how to extract a loose cork from a wine bottle. He used this principle in building a device that could be used to remove a baby from the passageway during birth. These were two unrelated ideas that were used to develop an innovative solution. The Internet, social media and increased networking possibilities provide us with the capability to link unrelated ideas together in a way that has not been possible before. The ability to link unrelated ideas together is a skill that can only be developed through practice.
3. Develop a hunger for knowledge
Knowledge is power. This statement is becoming more and more relevant in the world we live in. You must be aware of trends in the market, new and emerging technologies, potential growth opportunities innovative developments and challenges. Developing a hunger for knowledge will help stimulate your innovative capability. Attending conferences or seminars in areas that are unrelated to your expertise or reading magazines or books in areas that are least familiar to you will help you see opportunities for innovation. Socializing outside your normal circles can stimulate exciting conversations and refreshing perspectives.
4. Do something that is fun and relaxing
Most experts agree that it is far easier to be creative when you are doing something that is fun and relaxing. Walt Disney’s employees generated some of their best ideas by going for walks in the Disney World parks. Great ideas do not happen in a vaccuum. Step out of your comfort zone, explore and have fun while doing it!
5. Brainstorming exercises
On a specific problem or topic, take 10 minutes to brainstorm with a group of persons as many ideas as possible. Maybe at the end of the exercise, there are one or two of those ideas in the list that are worth pursuing. It is important to record or document the ideas and set up a plan for execution.
6. Sketch your ideas
It may be worthwhile to give yourself the opportunity to sketch your idea on paper or use easily accessible materials, for example, scotch tape, paper clips to demonstrate the idea in operation. After all, the shell of the first computer server ever made at Google by founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin was actually built from toy Lego blocks.
7. Seek constructive feedback
Innovative products or processes challenge the way we do things. Many of us did not imagine that we would become attached to our mobile phones and the many uses we have found for this device. In 1876, the chief engineer of the British Post Office stated ¨The Americans have need of the telephone but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.¨ This technology has transformed the way we communicate. Hence, innovators may be hesitant to seek feedback since there may be many who will not see the potential in their idea. However, because innovative ideas are new and untested, there is need for feedback. Feedback can help to craft the idea for greater acceptance in the market. Google, one of the leading innovative companies, uses feedback to iterate its products. When the company launched Chrome in 2008, it released an updated version every six weeks based on user feedback.
Innovation does not happen easily. It requires conscious effort to consistently seek new ways for improvement.
At CARIRI, our Idea Advisory Service (IAS) platform, which was adapted from the Danish Technological Institute Inventor Advisory service (IAS) provides persons with an opportunity to take their idea to market. The IAS team works with the applicant in assessing the novelty of the idea and advising on which intellectual property tool can be used to secure the idea, identifying and strengthening the benefits of the idea and evaluating market demand for the idea. Once proof of business has been established, we can assist in the development of a demonstration model (pretotype/minimum viable product) where necessary. There are two pathways to commercialization once proof of business has been achieved, the first being via licensing where the expertise of an existing company (market experience, distribution channels and manufacturing resources) can be exploited to commercialize the idea. The IAS Team can identify and network with potential licensees (local, regional or international companies) and negotiate licensing agreements. The inventor receives royalty payments or a percentage of the sales of the product generated by the company. The second pathway to commercialization is via business start-up. CARIRI offers a Business Hatchery Programme which is a three month programme that offers a full suite of workshop sessions, hands-on research and one-on-one business coaching sessions designed to train entrepreneurs on the fundamentals associated with running a business. There is no cost attached to the submission of your idea for screening and all ideas remain confidential as Non Disclosure Agreements are signed with all applicants.
To learn more about the IAS and to submit an idea for assessment, visit our website www.cariri.com or contact us at 299-0209 ext 2208-2212.