I have always admired creative people and wondered how they came up with the all the cool stuff they create. The truth is that most people who have been called creative or have invented some of the most popular and used products did so accidentally. The Slinky and Play Doh are examples of accidental creations that the creators have made billions from as almost 1 billion units of these items have been sold since their creation in 1940 and 1955 respectively. Penicillin, the Microwave, fireworks, the Pacemaker and Post it Notes are other examples of accidental inventions. All the inventions that I just mentioned have impacted our daily lives and quite frankly, some of us would be hard pressed to admit that we are not glad that someone stumbled upon them.
The question is though, can I intentionally come up with something creative that can have a worldwide impact, or are we relegated to inventing based on pure luck. The simple answer is yes. Most large companies invest millions in Research and Development (R & D) Departments set aside for the purpose of creating items that they hope will make such an impression with customers, that there already fat pockets will get fatter. I asked a couple of R & D Managers who wanted to remain nameless, who they depend on for creativity and they unanimously said that they depend on young people, specifically those under the age of 35 years old. Ageism I asked, but they said no, the reason why they use younger people is that their research have led them to believe that creativity in mankind generally reduces after the age of 35. There are undoubtedly exceptions to the rule shown with great innovators like Albert Einstein, however they said that they generally get more creative products from their younger members of staff. They use the experience of older members of their staff as the voice of reason, to bring the ideas back to reality as they put it, as the younger members of staff tend to take too many risks. The interesting thing is that I was speaking with managers who were well over the age of 50. Apart from age however, there are a number of other characteristics of a creative mind.
The most important characteristic of a creative person is someone who does not allow reason to hinder his or her creative ability. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that most of the ideas you have come up with are not within reason and in some cases do not seem plausible. Most will scoff at your idea because it seems ridiculous, however, creativity comes out of a mind that is not bound by reason. You should take all your ideas to the extremes, ignoring reason initially. You have to ignore doubt and naysayers and push the limits of possibility and think outside the box society has set for you.
After you have milked out all of the possibilities for your idea, then you should insert reason. This is done after the idea has been fully developed in your mind because reason will cut your creation process prematurely. Most inventions will not look like the initial concept that was developed, so do not allow reason to cloud your creativity initially. Reason at the end of your concept creation task, so that you can bring the idea back to the real world, but even then, be careful not to let reason tell you that something is impossible.
Many will say that you have to infuse reason into creativity at all points of the concept creation stage, as it is time consuming to develop a concept and then when reason is applied you need to start from scratch. The foregoing may be true, however, I would prefer to not limit my creativity with reason and spend more time creating unique things. Which leads to the other character of a creative person. You need to have lots of patient. Creative concepts that can work are rarely developed overnight. You need to have patients and never give up on your ideas unless there is absolutely no way for your idea to work in real life.
You also need to read a lot and know the technologies that are already available. Some technologies may actually assist you in your creative process, as you will not have to reinvent the wheel. So, where research has been done in the area you are interested in, you may need to keep abreast of the results of the research already done.
Good inventors are very thick skinned, that is, they never allow what others say to discourage their creativity or to deter them from carrying a concept to its full development. If you are going to be creative you will come upon naysayers who themselves are not as courageous as yourself to try something new. Never let them get you down.
Never leave an idea undone. Great inventors carry through concepts to the end of the creation process. Get everything from the idea, as this will protect you from others coming up with ideas based on concepts you failed to consider.
An inventor knows how to keep a secret. Never tell anyone about your creation. Keep it to yourself until you can patent it. There are too many sad stories about big companies stealing ideas and making millions from the creators had work. Never let pride get the best of you. It may be very tempting to bang your chest like a Guerrilla to display your might, power and especially your superiority in innovation, but be careful, because as you beat your chest in victory, someone is seeking to piggy back off your idea.
You must be willing to take a risk. Inventions will take funding which is difficult to come by especially in our present financial crisis. However, you will need to spend more than you can afford to lose. You may or may not be successful in your task, however you will have to take a risk if you want to invent something that has never been tried.
Finally, inventors have always sacrificed their time to achieve their goals as innovators. The development of new concepts and ideas will require long hours of hard work. There is a need for good time management. You will need to sacrifice the time you spend on less important things like watching TV and other forms of entertainment. Time is critical, as I can’t count the number of times I have come up with an idea and then a couple months down the line I see my idea advertised on TV. Use your time wisely.