Inventing New Products By Paying Attention

How many great ideas are right in front of you everyday?  How many times have you seen a new product or service and thought, damn, why didn’t I think of that – that is so obvious?

Well, it seems like the two go hand in hand and I know when I see something new come out that was staring me right in the face I get simultaneously annoyed and inspired.

The above two examples of packing tape with a rip cord in it and a toothbrush that doubles as a fountain are the perfect display of something that has been sitting there, waiting for someone to implement it.  It’s the kind of thing that once you see you wonder why anyone would use anything different in the future.  It’s the kind of thing to applaud, for the inventor that finally saw it, and scream at, because you’re mad at yourself for not thinking of it in the first place.

It’s also a great example of cross-pollinating two things into one.  With packing tape the person may have said “well, I need to close this box, but then I need to use something different to open it – why not combine the two.”  With the toothbrush the person probably said something like, why don’t I just try and use my toothbrush to replace the messy step of cupping my hands or finding a glass that takes up space on my counter.

  • What two things could you bring together into one?
  • What have you used in the last 12 hours that has been around for 100 years and is about time it got changed (anyone notice that manilla file folders have been getting a facelift over the last 2 years and are now available in designer patterns, at ten times the cost)?
  • Make a list of the things you use virtually everyday.
  • Take an existing product you like, go read the Amazon reviews, good and bad, what inspiration did you just get to make it even better?  Did your marketing department do that before they launched their last product?

Matt Kane

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