How To Invent Something New and Innovative

4 steps for inventing new things with the potential for commercial appeal

by Rod Dunne on May 4, 2011

in Biz Dev, Creative, Entrepreneurial, Innovation

Wondering how to invent something new? You’re not alone. When Tim Berners Lee (the man who invented the internet) worked out how to use HTML to allow computers to talk to each other then he was simply trying to resolve an issue that troubled him.

Every day people are thinking about new ideas or ways of solving problems that exist and that their daily lives.

The thought process behind inventing something new require some key methods of analysis.

Luckily these are skills that just about anybody can learn and improve over time.

Preparation – First find a problem to solve

This is often the easy part. You might wish to know how to invent things for one of your hobbies or something which you use on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps you have a specific hobby which you enjoy and often think up new ideas for new products or services that could benefit people like yourself. I regularly start by thinking I want to invent something to improve some product I am using continuously but doesn’t work so well.

Realize that inventing something new can either be adaptive (i.e. improving on some existing technology or invention) or completely innovative (i.e. coming up with an invention or solution which is completely out of the box and different from previous inventions).

Task: Jot down several problems you experienced on a daily basis and how you would benefit by improving them.

If you want to know how to invent something new then work out ways in which you can benefit the end-user. This will be immensely valuable for promoting or marketing your products – they should always be of use to some niche or sector of society.

Stuck for inspiration? Try looking at my post about inventions that changed the world for some ideas on how inventors through the ages discovered beneficial new products and innovations.

Incubation – Try thinking of different ways of solving the issue

Try looking at different ways in which products could be improved through:

  1. Adaptation: What could you adapt or modify resolve the problem?
  2. Magnification: How could you to make the product stronger, faster, larger, etc.?
  3. Minimization: Could the product be streamlined or have elements omitted or subtracted?
  4. Substitution: Could materials, ingredients or processes be altered?
  5. Rearrange: Would interchanging components or layout make a difference?
  6. Reversal: In what way can the product be transposed, turned backwards, upside down, inside out?
  7. Combinations: Would it help to combine functions, forms together to improve the product?

Illumination – The goal of incubating ideas and inventions

Einstein said that if you want to know how to invent something new then you have to realize it takes 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Persistence is the key! You may have to prototype a number of different inventions and come up with a vast number of ideas before you find one which can truly help solve the problem.

As regards the thinking processes you need to use, you should keep an open mind to the following when inventing something:

  • Use critical thinking to break down large problems into a series of different smaller issues. When I want to invent something innovative I may start with a large issue but break this down first into the fundamental elements that can be more easily tackled before proceeding.
  • Be fluid in how you invent things. Allow happy accidents to occur and for your mind to wander into different areas or solutions. You should aim to build up as many different ideas as possible (i.e. divergent thinking) before focusing in on some of the key workable solutions (i.e. convergent thinking).
  • Be flexible about seeing different viewpoints. Try walking in someone else’s shoes and viewing your product inventions in a new light. Consider how other individuals would assess your invention. Even ask for opinions from others to gain alternative viewpoints.

Verification – Proving the solution has merit

Now that you’ve worked out how to invent something new, it’s time to establish if the invention has real merit. There are many ways to establish this. You should of course patent your idea if you feel it is of value and then start seeking manufacturers or outlets who may be interested in producing your invention.

Before doing that however you need to ask yourself some serious questions about the product. In particular, does the product have certain success factors?

  • Is it unique?
  • Can it be differentiated from other people’s products?
  • Does it deliver benefits and better value to the customer?
  • How easily can you defend the intellectual property behind your product?

Where to next? My article on how to patent ideas or products shows you how to make the next step on from this post by safeguarding a fresh new invention that you have conceived.

Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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