As I finished the last post, The Habits of Successful Inventors, I immediately realized there was more to be written on the topic.

I discussed how successful inventors have behaviors, different from typical workers, that  serve them quite well:

  1. Discover ideas and solutions by focusing on unrelated things
  2. Sleep on it
  3. Find the times of day when creativity seems to flow more easily
  4. Find new ideas and solutions by asking lots of questions

I did not address, however, how one might transition and implement the behaviors towards becoming successful as an inventor.

The above behaviors assume that creative ideas already are available in quantity, but what if creative ideas don't seem to naturally flow? How can you turn on the creativity tap so you lots of ideas for new products?

Read on.

The key is to take 4 above and learn to apply it broadly to everyday living. Simply pick something ordinary and frame a lot of questions around it to formulate new ideas.

Billboards are a fixture along American highways, especially in urban areas. Billboards have changed very little during the last 50 years except some are now electronic billboards that can display many messages over a period of time.

But, why are billboards so tall? Would it be easier or perhaps safer for drivers to read them if they were shorter or perhaps smaller? What if the sign surface were curved, rather than flat? Are there different fonts that would make them easier to read or the messages more impacting?

Considering the first “layer” of questions often leads to a deeper second layer where interesting insights and new ideas may emerge. If curved and short, smaller billboards were effective, this may safe costs of maintaining them. Could billboards have sound absorption materials that would tend to reduce freeway noise?

Another idea is to keep a note pad and pen on your nightstand near your bed. If an idea occurs to you in a dream, turn on the light, grab the pad and jot it down before you forget it. Then turn off the light and go back to sleep. In this way, a potentially valuable idea is retained and you don't sacrifice sleep.

With repetition and practice, you will soon find that asking questions about many things becomes almost second nature. Would airplane wings be more effective if they emulated birds' wings? The answer is yes. Soon you will have lots of creative ideas, then you can begin applying the 4 behaviors described above and possibly become a successful inventor.

Stay tuned!