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Accidental Inventions
Human Resources » Knowledge Management

Chrm Message From: sanjibani Total Posts: 21 Join Date: 04/04/2009
Rank: Executive Post Date: 09/08/2016 10:37:06 Points: 105 Location: India
Many inventors report stories of every day events that triggered them to think of some problem in a new way.
The inventor of VELCRO® reported that he thought of the invention while removing burrs from his pet's fur after walking in the woods.
You may recall Eli Whitney's story of watching a cat pull feathers through a cage -- it was how he thought of the invention now known as the cotton gin.  
A less well-known story involves Catherine Ryan, who invented locking nuts to hold bolts in place. Her inspiration was how her own wedding ring kept getting stuck on her finger. She saw that if something in the nut could expand after a bolt was placed inside a nut, it would hold the two together.
Other inventions come about when their inventors try to think of uses for things - vulcanized (heated) rubber for tires came about that way.
 Have you heard of "yellow stickies" ( PostIt®)? They were the result of a "failed" adhesive experiment which was too weak to market, until the chemist figured out that a weak adhesive had good uses too.
Many times you can come up with a solution for a problem (or find a problem that fits your solution!) by either "turning a problem around" or selecting two or more things at random and using them to "seed" new ideas.
What does "turning a problem around" mean? It means looking at it from a different angle or thinking about it in a new way. 
Example 1 - instead of thinking of shoes as protecting your feet from the ground, think of using something to protect the ground from your feet. 
Example 2 - instead of thinking about how you can carry kumquats home from a store, think of how they can come to you - by delivery or growing your own - or do you need kumquats at all?
Carefully define a problem. Focus on what you are trying to do in the first place - instead of simply how to do things. If you focus on methods, " i.e . "I need a way to use a computer to count apples", you may not to count apples?
Try changing the question - start it with a different word - who, what, where, when, why, how, etc. Change your perspective on a problem - looking for something is not at all the same as finding it, and putting something away is very different from getting rid of it. 
Think about something in an unexpected and way that expresses your creativity. Describe doing something in words for something entirely different - search and rescue your toys; turn your closet into a menu of clothes; or feed a thought. Identify a more basic problem - "I need to have about 1000 apples to sell every week" and miss a better solution.