In a previous post, I described the processes artists use to create and how you can use the same processes to help your business succeed. To achieve some insight into your creative process so that you can direct and apply it more effectively, devour Inventology: How We Can Dream Up Things That Change the World” by Pagan Kennedy. Through extensive research and consideration of evidence, Kennedy has managed to capture the essence of the creative impulses of invention that are often thought of as un-tameable, directionless, risky. Her book gives examples of designers, scientists and engineers who believed in their creative process and persevered when their inventions were ignored or discounted by MBA wielding management types who lacked the creativity to make room for new products and alternative solutions. I’m a big fan of buying a hard copy and having a pen handy for adding your own insights as you read. While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive (though it is available digitally), here are four concepts gleaned from her book that you can apply right now.
Experience the Pain
You’ve heard this one before. You have to identify a need being experienced by a group of consumers who are willing to shell out money to have the pain of that need assuaged. As Kennedy puts it,
“Many…inventors reported that they spent as much time as possible among the customers they served…..innovators have to live inside the problem and develop their own sense about what is important through firsthand experience.”
In my own business, I have identified the need for a resource that offers trustworthy, dependable services to individuals and organizations who need a product created by sewing. But, additionally, my service fulfills the need for highly individualized assistance in product development including the ability to visualize the product in 3D and know the steps necessary to most cost effectively render it. Read more about that here. How are you reaching out to your current and potential customers to determine what they really need and how to deliver it?
Imagine What Doesn’t Exist
Cars, home computers, social media, consumers had no idea that they needed these things before they became indispensable.
Kennedy uses the example of the engineers at Motorola who had to “predict the evolution of transistors and batteries so that they could leap ahead and take advantage of opportunities that would open in a few years.”
Don’t be so narrow minded as to think that this only applies to the latest technological advancement. Who knew that we needed handcrafted beer so badly, or classes in how to make pottery, both of which have become extremely popular in the last 5 years or so? Are you limiting your thinking to only what’s available now? Where will your business be in 2030? “Kennedy exhorts us to “dream about things that have no connection to the present.”
Listen to Alternative Voices
Your own knowledge, that of your team and others in your field can only take you so far. Why start from the same point, travel the same roads then rehash the same solutions? Viewpoints from outside your area of knowledge can give you valuable insights, helping differentiate product attributes or identify new directions.”Tap the knowledge of someone outside the field
…”that person will come with a different model of reality, a different set of tools, and his or her own library of solutions.”
As entrepreneurs, we know the need to separate our businesses from the competition. We also know that there never seem to be enough hours in the day. Take the time to make a concerted effort to travel outside your own domain to seek out new viewpoints. Then take time to reflect on how these viewpoints can be applied to product development, marketing, operations or that issue about your business that is keeping you up at night.
Resist The Little Naysayer in Your Head
We’ve all heard it before…that sniping voice in our heads. “You don’t really know what you’re doing; you’re wasting your time and money; no one will really want this thing,” it whines. It’s so much easier to give in to the voice and play it safe. But, that’s not why many of us got into this game. We recognized a need that we can be passionate about solving. Our urge is to stick with it. Kennedy reminds us that,
…”fortitude might be the most important ingredient in any inventive effort–without it, an idea remains just a thought or a scribble.”
Don’t allow your dream to perish as “just a thought.”. In the future, do you really want to carry the burden of regret for not having done the research, sought out the feedback, made prototypes, beta tested, refined more and all the other steps to successfully launching your product? Leave the excuses at the door, seek out supportive resources and people that believe in you and, “get ‘er done!”
Mary Ruth, Owner of United Sewing and Design has over 30 years experience in the manufacturing of products by sewing and is author of “Industry Sewing Construction Methods” http://amzn.to/2yMxMmk. Her focus is on design, entrepreneurship; social enterprise; the connections between the environment, the apparel industry, and manufacturing; and how owners can leverage artistic methods to benefit their business.