Where Science Meets Muse

Five Steps to Do-It-Yourself Innovation

Posted by Plish on April 6, 2009

We’ve all done it before. 

We’re confronted with a problem so we work with what we have to  a create a solution – we innovate. 

Innovation is especially fertile in those situations where existing solutions are too complicated or expensive to utilize on a regular basis.

Here are some great examples of solutions to everyday problems.  Whether it’s dog walking, electrical sockets, ice cube trays, windmills,  spices, or easier ways to de-shell hardboiled eggs, someone saw a problem and thought of novel ways to fix it.

However, we all know that there are times we get stuck.  

To get unstuck try the following:

  1. Phrase your problem as, ‘In what ways can I… (deshell an egg, etc.)’
  2. Learn all you can about the physical principles governing your problem
  3. Go do something fun and relaxing or meditate
  4. Brainstorm ideas (If you need help here,  try these creative thinking techniques)
  5. After you think you have a great set of ideas – go back to Step 3 and try again without duplicating (Do this once or twice)

If you follow the above process and still can’t solve your problem in a cheaper/easier way, then you either:

  1. Didn’t phrase your problem properly
  2. Didn’t detach from your problem for a while

What?  I  didn’t relax and that is why I can’t solve my problem?

The short answer?


Long Answer: The Sub-conscious needs time to crank through your problem, look for relationships, connect dots, remember that toy you made in 5th grade, etc.  We need to relax, we need to actually disconnect from the problem for a while to get great ideas.

That’s why people have ideas in showers –  they’re relaxed, and often the shower follows a night of sleep. 

And what happened while you were sleeping?

Your brain was cranking away solving your problem while you dreamt you and your pet frog were flying over a field of singing poppies looking for Carl Sagan.

For another perspective on how quick fixes can lead to innovation read this.


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