Mothers (and Fathers) of Invention. How do new products happen? Fast Company asked some inventive folks about coming up with ideas and seeing them through to the marketplace.
In the past, we pretty much had a “do it ourselves” culture. But to really innovate better, faster, cheaper, we had to move toward a more open model of innovation. It’s my job–along with 50 or so other employees with the same position–to find ideas. – Suna Polat
To invent anything, you have to be removed from the world. In order to have the capacity, the liberty, to imagine something better, you need to step outside of it for a while. My advice is to encourage invention and ideas, and then edit. It’s about proliferation and promiscuity on the one hand–and then later, rigorous, tough-minded editing. Dean Kamen, the inventor, calls the process “kissing frogs.” You might make 100 things and turn one of them into a prince. – Bruce Mau
What not to do: Fill a room with people from a single discipline. Or get a bunch of people from many different disciplines, and throw them all together. Either everyone has the same background, so it’s hard to come up with big, surprising ideas, or people are so different they can’t understand one another.
Something magical happens when you bring together a group of people from different disciplines with a common purpose. It’s a middle zone, the breakthrough zone. The idea is to start a team on a problem–a hard problem, to keep people motivated. When there’s an obstacle, instead of dodging it, bring in another point of view: an electrical engineer, a user interface expert, a sociologist, whatever spin on the market is needed. Give people new eyeglasses to cross-pollinate ideas. – Mark Stefik