Innovation in design is not the easiest thing to accomplish as it requires a great deal of creativity. What if I told you that this want not exactly the truth. Yes some creativity is required, but most innovation is built off the success of current items or trends. This means most ideas are not truly original but an adaptation of a previous design. For instance, let’s look at Keurig coffee machines. When they came around we already had coffee machines right? But Keurig saw a need for individualized cups of coffee. New idea? no There were plenty of single serve coffee machines that already exist. Think of rest areas, remember those single serve machines? Nevermind the fact that the coffee from those is terrible. You see Keurig blended the concepts of single serve coffee machines and home coffee makers. Both at the time existed.
- Borrow someones idea. No, we are not talking about outright stealing ideas, however many companies are built on that premise. Look at other applications and industries and see where you can take their idea and use it in your application. Do you want a perfect example of this? Henry Ford did not completely invent the production line for manufacturing. He actually saw the principle being applied in a meat packing plant and translated to an automotive application. This method minimizes some risk as you know the idea has worked before.
- Look for Common Complaints. This is a little difficult as it requires a certain level of awareness, but some of the best innovation stems from the need to solve an issue. Want a plethora of inventions that come from here? look at kitchen gadgets. Almost all of them come from a complaint.
- Combine Concepts. Often there are stand alone items that work well by themselves and can make profitable businesses. What if you could combine two items and make something new? mobile phone and digital camera, luggage and wheels. what crazy concoction can you come up with?
- Observe Customers. Your current customers can give you wealth of new product ideas by simply watching them. Not in a stalker way though, that may be going a little far. Heinz saw that customers stored their bottles upside down so they engineers an upside down bottle. Levi Strauss did this too. They saw their customers purposly ripped their jeans for fashion. So Strauss introduces their own line of pre-ripped jeans.
- Remove Something from the existing design. This sounds a little strange. What if I took a bicycle and removed a tire. Well, I won’t go far which is kind of useless, unless…..I want to exercise by riding my bicycle indoors.
- Improve an existing product. Just because something is out there does not mean that it can not be improved upon. Dyson knew this with his vaccum cleaners. Apple knew this with the iPod. they were not the first to market, but made significant improvements that people valued.
- Read Scientific Journals.This may not be for everyone, but this one is powerful for generating very high value ideas. Universities and research institutes publish their research for the wold to see. They often come up with new technologies but do not necessarily have a practical application yet.