Contrary to popular belief, innovative ideas don’t come from hard work and long hours. The best product ideas pop into people’s heads at moments when they least expect it.
1. Being a Couch Potato
TV, movies and novels can spark creativity if you focus on turning the cool fictional things you see into actual, salable products. For instance, the flip-phone and tablet computer were famously based upon Star Trek props.
Role Model: Charles Gaines, Inventor of Paintball
2. Cleaning Out Your Office
Truly innovative ideas must sometimes percolate before they reveal their greatness. Cleaning out your office is a perfect time to sift through the junk to find the jewels you missed first time around.
Role Models: John Lea and Bill Perrins, Inventors of Worcestershire Sauce
A long walk through the natural world has two benefits: 1) it frees your attention from the trivial distractions at the office and 2) Nature itself is full of great product ideas if you’re willing to look closely enough.
Role Model: George de Mestral, Inventor of Velcro
Frustration at the little hassles of life has resulted in thousands of great inventions. Whenever you hear yourself swearing about something inanimate or a frustrating incident, there’s product idea hiding somewhere.
Role Model: Ermal Fraze, Inventor of the Pull-Top Can
While too much sugar is obviously bad for you, sometimes a sugar rush is exactly what you need to get your creative brain in gear. Why do you think donuts are so popular in the break room and at the big meeting?
Role Model: Percy Spencer, Inventor of the Microwave Oven
As I pointed out last week, many scientific breakthroughs emerged while the inventor was dreaming. Dreaming taps into your deep creativity without the limitations and nay-saying of your rational mind.
Role model: Elias Howe, Inventor of the Sewing Machine
Today’s newly puritan work environment has forgotten that the “3 Martini Lunch” served a very important purpose. Alcohol removes inhibitions, include the tendency of the human mind to reject new ideas as impractical.
Role Model: Percy Shaw: Inventor of Headlight Reflectors (aka Cat’s Eyes)
8 Listening to Complainers
If you can maintain your own positive attitude are are committed to helping others, you can discover great product ideas simply by listening to other people kvetch.
Role Model: Noah and Joseph McVicker, Inventors of Play-Doh
The brain often retains memories that don’t seem important at the time but which can be a true wellspring of ideas when you revisit them later in life.
Role Model: Frank Epperson, Inventor of the Popsicle